Mauro Cerqueira & Pedro Wirz – Irmão dos homens todos

For the exhibition at David Dale Gallery, the artists have created a site-specific environment that merges the symbolism of the architectural ruin, maze or spiral with the haphazard situation of a flea market; we face several rows of knee high walls which spiral in and out of the space, each wall constructed of bricks made of a potent mix of earth and humus, some containing cans and other debris. This series of bending walls, partly broken, partly offering an opening to pass through, draw curves, like a radiant throughout the space, providing a saturated surface for snail shells, cocoon like eggs and other small lifelike vessels. This is the work of Pedro Wirz, handmade objects which suggest a weird, organic life-form but yet are strangely artificial mini cosmos that speak about the very essences of life. Where do we come through and what structure gave us shelter when we grew up, what traditions influenced us, and how does our body, as a vessel, function in regard to our own experiences relating to the natural world around us? This very experience of entering and leaving a space, may it be of a physical or emotional nature, is life on repeat. It draws images of poetic grandeur within their microcosmos and simultaneously it inevitably also suggests an emptiness and absence these vessels and encounters represent, they are temporal loopholes, where we choose to inhabit something or not. Where we value someone or neglect another.

Cerqueira and Wirz build narratives that weave in and out our lives, they are talking about similar objects and re-coding them in their own manner, they look at the shit we produce; the ephemeral recycled stories that batter our minds numb and the lost quality of things with the hope to re-ignite a discussion that needs to happen, not inside the philosopher’s home, but on the streets we walk.
Mauro Cerqueira and Pedro Wirz both live in Porto where they share a large studio in the historic city centre. The artists have each developed a diverse body of sculptural works for many years, which circle around how narratives are formed through language and objects. Both use the historical potency of any given object, from the mundane to the instinctual, by observing the everyday. Cerqueira is interested in a sort of modern day, contemporary archeology of objects, while Wirz is more drawn to the superimposed folkloric qualities which imbue our collective thinking and thus influence our everyday actions. What happens once an object is stripped from its original use, what gives value to one thing over the other whereas a third loses his altogether? How are words and oral traditions still embedded in our Western Cultures and how do they influence our social behavior which in turn describe our relationship to the objects we surround ourselves with?

Irmão dos homens todos, the title of the show stems from a poem written by Valdemar Lopes and Verreira de Castro, celebrating the Portuguese-Brazil connection, it heralds the commonly shared ‘universal’ experience, essentially making us all brothers and sisters. This cultural and linguistic ties that have existed between Portugal and Brazil are also felt in the artist’s’ works and allow for a more homogenic, culturally defined reading. Mauro Cerqueira’s method of working is multidisciplinary and it includes photography, drawings, sculpture, painting and video. Recently his work has been more and more inspired and lead by his environment in which he lives and works, the old city district of Porto. It’s an area which is undergoing constant changes, where derelict buildings are in make-shift use or being torn down, where his neighbours are burglars and thieves as well as normal families minding their own business. Cerqueria has filled the room with objects he found, re-arranging them, reactivating them. There is a strong felt presence of people through his objects and one seems to get the sense that he is trying to record the things around him before the city cleans up its act in the changing light of the tourist influx.
In another corner of the room, a TV Screen lays on the floor, it’s a film about the artist’s neighbour, a junkie who gets by, by stealing and re-selling stuff by day but in this video we get to see him from another side as he wanders through the night, Cerqueira who is capturing his invisible actions, his good deeds on his streets, his house. Leonel is his name and as he cleans away trash from streets and waters flowers in neighbouring gardens, he tells stories about his life, at one point he starts to fix the cobble stones on the street by inserting missing stones, crouching down like a stone-mason completing a puzzle. It’s a touching portrait of a man who lives outside the societal structures but whose understanding of a city he calls home is synonymous to what we know as friendship.


Irmão dos homens todos by Mauro Cerqueira & Pedro Wirz
Curated by Samuel Leuenberger for SALTS (CH)
David Dale Gallery, Galsgow
Through October 9