Carolina Ponte

19/Nov/2013 – 21/Dec/2013

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    Carolina Ponte: Tangled Webs

    Carolina Ponte exercises art as a state of extension for bodies in the world. Departing from the use of lines or arabesque forms, she composes tangled, endless forms. By almost instinctively observing the associations between colours and webs, volutes come to create presences, jewels and embellishments, which simultaneously remind us of the gestures of building up and throwing away, just like in everyday life and its banalities, such as the mundane act of removing the petals from a rose, opening up a newspaper, or peeling fruit. Carolina Ponte’s works go beyond, exceeding themselves and turning the obsession with tracing drawings or knitting lines into gestures which are muscular rather than ordered. However, it is precisely in this act of creating random associations rather than elective affinities where the conceptual tear running through the artist’s work lies.

    The actions of making something and throwing it away, or sewing something and dismantling it, invariably lead our thoughts to Penelope’s ostentatious gesture of weaving and undoing her work, but I do not use this cliché as a point of comparison, rather simply to highlight the potential for trickery, for sheer nerve, and for an attempt to cheat time itself and expectations as conceptual conditions for the character of Penelope and the works of Carolina Ponte.

    The use of perpetual motion, perpetuum mobile and of machines which will never stop working is one of industrial civilisation’s reveries. Never stopping working would produce a kind of infinite slave, a servant who would never take any time off. Obviously we are aware of the ethical implications of this understanding. If we consider machines instead of human beings, we would be faced with another question: why? Why not turn them off? Or, to reply with one of Marcel Duchamp’s axioms: “why not sneeze?” We are constantly subject to mistakes, to flaws, to hiccoughs, to fatigue and to sneezing. All the while, art weaves infinite webs, Möbius strips and critters, adorning altars to the gods, as it shouts and vanishes without expecting an answer. We direct ourselves to everybody and to nobody, as Nietzsche’s philosophy has taught us. Carolina Ponte’s actions in perpetual motion, drawing of endless arabesques and weaving of overflowing webs therefore seem to direct us towards these tasks, which paradoxically make the perpetual into a point of arrival, a goal which rather makes us, right at the beginning, conscious of the impossible. Our fate is thus to challenge the body through these tasks, exhausting it until we gush fluid, milk and honey.

    At this point the thread, or the filigree, seems to us to be part of this outpouring. The attempt to offer up gold to the gods leads us to the plethora of Baroque altars, but also to a simple leaf of gold placed on the floor of the gallery, making Roni Horn’s contemporary gesture into an influx towards these thoughts. In terms of arabesques, Carolina Ponte’s drawings are directly linked to calligraphy. It is not just an act of creating compositional images: repetition, the use of labyrinth-like lines and the plethora of colours create writings and deeds. Ponte performs the role of an artist-enlightener who has harnessed the potential to adorn pages, constructing sacred deeds. Hybrid exercises are now published without a destination. Still, the artist’s drawings retain a “love for swirling lines”, to use Julian Bell’s term for the activity enlighteners undertake in monasteries. Such drawings could be prolonged to serve as work for over a decade, drawings without text, work and adoration.

    In naming the exhibition Filigranas [Filigrees], Ponte also touches the place, the materiality upon which such arabesques will be transferred, the metal. However, what we now witness taking over the space is not metal but rather woolen sculptures. In the history of material culture, we observe sculptural gestures in civilisations which polished thunderstones, sharpened lithic hammers, developed embellishments with the finest of threads, golden filigrees, even transposing these filigrees to the so-called “Plateresque” of the sacred Baroque constructions, challenging stone to receive the same entangled metal thread.  

    Carolina Ponte’s sculpture strives for sinuosity, the lazy accommodation of the net, the web which adapts to the orthogonal planes of architecture. Her sculpture produces reliefs and counter-reliefs such as those of Vladimir Tatlin, assuming dependency and the subordination of the form to the resources of tightening and extending. They are constructions, just like the narratives of Scheherazade’s nights, or Borge’s book of sand. They are narratives like Soto’s kinetic constructions, and as infinite as Brancusi’s column. This is Ponte’s means of narrating and constructing, aiming for the endless. And the white cube of the gallery is adorned with jewels and relics which swing between art and prayer, rites and eroticism. All the while, embellishments and adornments frequent the logic of subversion, scratches, invalidations and traces. It is the same logic which guides Daniel Buren’s parallel stripes through the streets of Paris or the powder-marked paths of the miles walked by Richard Long.

    Carolina Ponte thus leads us to these revelations, looking at imprecise yet excessive gestures, drawing and adorning, creating almost random combinations, removing from forms what makes them familiar or desecrated, and ultimately goes beyond. Vanity cases, toys, paths, regalia – all of these embrace us – but the artist observes the exact point where we make the domestic more complex. And she extends it to the ground, stretching it across the walls, as though willing to erect monuments, reach the Earth’s highest summit and its innermost layer. What we are left with nevertheless is our body, a mundane and sacred condition, which may be tossed in the gutter or transcended, mysteriously, through the gestation of other beings.

    Marcelo Campos, 2013  

    Critical essay