Been there, Done That

22 July – 2 August

Vernissage 22 Jul with Lume 18:00

You will often meet graffiti writers that make the classic claim “I am not an artist, I’m a vandal”. And that can be true sometimes, because the fact is that graffiti is less about the final resulting piece and more about the moment of painting and the act of transgression. An act that requires investment, preparation, technique, funds and courage and has no guarantee of longevity. The ephemerality of this (art) practice, result of its illegality, reinforces the weight of the act, of the moment when oneself is in and is the city, without mediations.

Etymologically culture derives from the latin verb colo, which means “I live, I occupy the land” and also “I work, I cultivate the field”. Each graffiti piece is (above all) the residue of an action, the action of occupying and cultivating the city. The memory of that action is physically represented by a photo. Thus, the documentation of the performance itself can become the artwork. While the piece is the visual representation of the act of transgression, the photo captures its poetics, it captures not only the byproduct, but the performative gesture of appropriation that the writer makes towards the public space, and preserves lots of informations that can tell about the risk that person ran to make that work, which in many ways can reflect on the aesthetic quality of the piece itself. This performative act contradicts the definition of the ‘modern man’ according to Nietzsche: a man who lost his spontaneity and got used to responding to stimuli instead of taking initiatives. Now, graffiti, as we have seen, is exactly the opposite.

LxVandalsquad is an ongoing and growing project started in 2015, with many exhibits, testifying different phases and aims of this photographic work. With the focus on the railway systems and the parallel graffiti scene, Carlos Cirilo’s photographs shows us the effort to reclaim the city. This is, in order to really understand graffiti, one must understand what it means to be on the move in the city. With this in mind, one can talk about graffiti as being grounded in the exploration and reinterpretation of the surrounding environment, and with the train being the main (and sometimes only) form of transportation between the periphery and the center, the graffiti that appears on it can be thought of as a deviation or contestation of the social order. Born and grown in the Sintra line, Carlos Cirilo questions the moral geographies associated not only with the graffiti practice, but with the city planning and its modern society as well, and isn’t that what art’s all about?

VandalVision 🏃🏽💨🚓🚊🚇🚧 (@lxvandalsquad) • Instagram photos and videos

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