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A CADEIRA (The Chair)
Arturo Comas

Text by Ricardo Escarduça
5.05 __ 16.06.2023
© Bruno Lopes

In the middle of the road there was a stone

There was a stone in the middle of the road

There was a stone

In the middle of the road there was a stone.


Never should I forget this event

in the life of my fatigued retinas.

Never should I forget that in the middle of the road

there was a stone

There was a stone in the middle of the road

In the middle of the road there was a stone.


In the middle of the road, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, trad. Elisabeth Bishop


     Meaning is not stable and most importantly, not immanent. It is not, therefore, an immaculate proposition, safe from wound, and least it is, before anything else, an unsuspected preposition, exempted from doubt. It is not the incorporeal attribute that we can group with further sensitive properties, and, in such composite, such being non-nothing, that we can lock the being-in-itself of something; a substance subjacent and preceding to each accident, to the modalities in which an object is as such, in which it occurs every time and in each presence. It is not, in the same manner, the murmur or the echo that, by voice or trace, we can amplify or reflect in face of the model through the resemblance that, in the absence of the model, represents it; an assertion or discourse implicated in the conventions of relations between image and word in which we become entangled when we stumble upon the misunderstanding of the representative bond. It is not even the meaning held by a word, a syntagma or a clause that we enunciate, or we draw, when we refer to something; a synthetic and semantic strategy in which we sustain the indication, the designation, notwithstanding the abysmal dissimilarity between the phonetics, or the spelling, and the being, the existences, the modes of presence that we name.


     In the meantime, how can we doubt that, before us in the middle of our way in this exhibition, insistent as anaphors in the poem, we are in the presence of chairs? Or rather, how can we doubt that we certainly are facing a specific chair – A Cadeira (The Chair) – as indicated to us by the nominative syntagma that constitutes its title, and that represents it, that points us to what we are going to find? Or again, how can we doubt that we presumably are facing multiple representations of this particular chair, even if we do not find it?


     In fact, Arturo Comas brings to our presence a series of objects different from each other, and from any chair in whose presence we have ever been, about which, however, it is impossible for us to declare to be anything other than chairs. Unique in their own way of being and coming into our presence. It suffices their family of resemblances and, in each of these objects, it suffices our recognition of one, more than one, or all the elements that constitute the being of the chair, that which in the chair underlies and always exists, the being of the chair that the chair has in itself. Here is the seat, the backrest there, plus the supports, the armrests as well. They undoubtedly are chairs.


     Particularly, we recognise by resemblance, in each of these sensitive elements, the mass, the hardness, the shape, the colour, the shine of the seat, the backrest, the supports, the arms of the chair Gonçalo – albeit its model, the origin, the unique, is in uncertain whereabouts. By the same token, we recognise – if we could believe we know – the chair of van Gogh and the chair of Gauguin in the paintings that, bearing in their title the sentencing indicator, represent them, no matter how much geometrically distorted and materially implausible they are before their referent. Or we recognise, in the copy of a dictionary entry and in a set-up diagram, some or any chair that such pieces of paper signed by Joseph Kosuth represent, where no chair is.

     And, yet, we are manifestly not in the presence of various chairs. Not even are we before representation of some chair. And, in particular, of the primeval model of the chair Gonçalo, however much more resembling or less resembling these objects may be. Evidently, the eccentricity of the division and organisation in space of their parts withholds the usefulness that we assign to the idea of a chair, and from which it distinguishes itself, comes to our presence, and is a chair. From which it would be the chair. And, so or more eccentric in the arrangement of its parts, so or more impeditive of use under such idea, are that throw of traces that the hand draws, that throw of sound that comes out of our throats, with which we name and, hastily, speak of the idea of chair, and of this exhibition.


     Nothing of any chair is in A Cadeira (The Chair), in the same manner that nothing of a pipe is in a painting and in a word, or in a syntagma that, what is more, tells us that nothing of the former is in all of the latter. Operating through the odd, the absurd, the unstable that we find as a thread  in his body of work, Arturo Comas leads us into a shifting field between sign and meaning, substance and accident, model and representation, that erodes the current relations between words and things, between words and images. That revolves the epistemological dispositive maneuverer by a privileged creature that draws the limits of world.


     Just as a stone in the road, which we do not forget to have come to our presence in the road, we feel pleasure in this bewilderment, there is consolation in this consternation that crumbles the structures and networks of knowledge that are familiar to us in the things, the images, the words of which we grow fond or to which we submit. If we are in A Cadeira (The Chair) as docile contemplators, accepting a barrier, a separation, between us and these objects, seeking in vain within the structure of knowledge of our ways of seeing, of speaking, of moving, Arturo Comas will perhaps invite us to leave, and will invite us and to enter the exhibition again; however, we are to participate, as actors in a magic circle, in which we take possession of our faculties and potentials.


     A theater with no spectators is necessary, we are told by Rancière. In A Cadeira (The Chair), it is the conventions of meaning held by the word inasmuch as the discourses of visual representation that Arturo Comas boycotts, showing us that meaning emerges from experience itself. To look is not to see; it is necessary that we understand the network that models and orients the looking, the speaking, the moving, - the chair as the place of authority; the chair as the place of the indictee; and, after all symbolisms, the chair as the quotidian of mass production and consumption – and to put ourselves into action, to transform such a relation of positions, to annul the separation between the presence and the knowledge of its true. 


     It is at the core of our inseparability from the world that these objects cease to be some chair, some representation, and, simultaneously, cease not to be so. For, in view of their indeterminate character, which sets free our imagination to the unlimited, their being surpasses the being-that-is, and is substituted by the gift of the being, the being-that-gives-itself in its being-there, the being that occurs as the unveiling of an absence contained in the presence, of what is present and hidden, and that, in each occurrence, is the possibility of constituting its subjectivity. The truth of the subjective is not in the proposition that conceals it; it is, in the end, the proposition that is on the truth of the subjective that occurs in itself.


     A Cadeira (The Chair) does not objectify. It does not establish that which is, that which represents, how to name it, how to know it. It proposes that we throw ourselves in situ and in actu, in the interior of the inseparability, in a space of performativity and thinking, in the happening of the revelation, where everything changes with every throw, where everything is movement, as we are told by Heraclitus, offering us the freedom of that burden.

Ricardo Escarduça

May, 2023

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