JANUARY, 23, 2014


The pieces: Corner Shelf (PVC maquette), Corner Lamp (Valchromat and fluorescent lights), Corner Drawing (graphite and Ecoline on wall), Horizontal Shelf (birch plywood), Vertical Shelf (birch plywood), Wall Chair (steel plate). (2014)


Exercise as a model

Miguel Vieira Baptista is a designer, and it was in this capacity that he conceived this edition of EMPTY CUBE, whose title, “Aula de Ginástica” [Gymnastics Class], seems to cast a somewhat ironic gaze on the practice of a traditionally physical and spatial exercise. In fact, Vieira Baptista chose to approach this project as a specific exercise program, using a different, mental typology to reflect on exhibitive conditions, here in particular on the delimitation of the presence of the space, at once exhibitive and identity-defining, that characterises EMPTY CUBE. This space has already been the object of interventions by other artists, but the present project ushers in a more radical development: to embrace that space's absence as a means to reintegrate it into the space of the Appleton Square gallery through the geometric disposition of models and maquettes that were specifically conceived for this event via the language and vocabulary of his work as a designer.
The objects that make up the cube's geography are placed and mounted on the gallery's spatial limits, close to the walls and floor. These objects are indicative of a studio-based approach, combining handwork with the mechanics needed to achieve the finished form the prototype must present, as is the case with the laser-cut, press-bent steel plate wall chair. This piece, currently at a study stage, confronts the viewer with the possibility of occupying a unique space. In other words, this, one of the pieces that can be actually be used, has been installed in one of the vertexes of the imaginary four-sided structure that brings us into the gymnastics class and leads us to follow a series of exercises proposed to us by Vieira Baptista, somewhere between the project's ephemerality and the perenniality conveyed by the yet-unfinished models.   
The notion of time, of moment, all the complex unity that the concept of 'class' comprises finds in this project a performing synthesis, in the sense that everything displayed here will undergo an a posteriori transformation, perhaps a finishing, so that the drawing-turned-object may take on a more lasting path, rather than just this single, unrepeatable moment as an exhibited conceptual project.

The pieces: Corner Shelf (PVC maquette), Corner Lamp (Valchromat and fluorescent lights), Corner Drawing (graphite and Ecoline on wall), HorizontalShelf (birch plywood), Vertical Shelf (birch plywood), Wall Chair (steel plate). (2014)

The above list describes the materials, but also the use of some of these objects, and is included here because one of the elements in this set transcends the utilitarian purpose that follows their industrial production, regardless of the number of copies produced. I am referring to the 'Corner Drawing', a piece traced and painted by hand, a specific object in a space evocative of another that will only exist during this exhibition's brief stretch of time. A vertex that represents a geometric surface, an expression of a solid that permanently marks that exercise of thought in a veritable mental gymnastics class, unrepeatable but indelible by time.

João Silvério
January 2014