CORIUM ABCC (with  Bernardo Simões Correia)

16/Jul/2020

Brotéria, Lisbon

REGISTERED (TRADE) MARKS

The idea of "leaving a mark" has great resonance in our contemporary world of post-truths and possible post-capitalism - above all if apprehended in the context of a global pandemic. Nonetheless, since it has been considered as such, humanity has sought to leave its mark everywhere: from cave wall to landscape, from papyrus to fiber optic cable, from the obelisk to the fresh surface of the chapel roof, from city wall to lunar surface to the ends of the universe, as far as radio signals can reach.

That idea of “leaving a mark” involves movement and abandonment: marks are left in a place because one moves elsewhere. The mark is, therefore, like the record of a presence, of an action or thought, or of an idea of the world; a message, either poetic, artistic, political, apocalyptic, mystical, or ... commercial. Marks persist. Men and women leave. And skin was understood as a carrier for these marks from early on. Archaeological discoveries on different continents confirm that the impulse to inscribe cultural marks of different tribes on human skin has been a widespread practice for thousands of years.

Marks on human skin must have fulfilled different purposes at different times: ritualistic and religious, spiritual, aesthetic, even strategic - with the intention of instilling fear in the enemy. And today?

Bernardo Simões Correia and Alexandre Camarao, artists who present themselves as a duo with the brand ABCC, answered Brotéria's challenge to join the conversation around the subject of tattoos with an exhibition in which they present a set of images originating in the digital whirlwind in search of a particular aesthetic sense.

ABCC's “collages” are part of an artistic lineage anchored in the onset of modernism in the early 20th century. From Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol or Romare Bearden and from visual arts to music, with Pierre Schaeffer or Karlheinz Stockausen, the Beatles, and, later, all of hip hop, there is a long and fertile history of artists who understood that the overlapping, manipulation, recontextualization, alteration, and appropriation of previously existing visual or sound materials could be tools building new visions and ideas, new works, new ways of understanding or subverting the world. New ways of imprinting ... marks.

ABCC’s art, as shown in this set of posters and videos, is made up of the appropriation of the debris captured from the digital whirlwind and rethought as new significant matter from the moment they are confronted with a particular aesthetic, not exempt from a profound sense of irony, but far more critical than their “montages” might suggest at first glance. Like all art, ABCC's is also a commentary on the world. But, apart from that self-evidence, Simões Correia and Camarao’s work also has this strange strength that stems from the very resistance it offers to the eye. What at first may seem familiar and immediately “disposable” - after all, they deal with material we encounter every day in the digital space of social networks or content production, the very territory par excellence for the circulation of “brands” - ends up revealing other layers, true palimpsests of new ideas inscribed on “text”. This applies either for advertising or commerce, journalistic or artistic and of other natures and contexts - pre-existing and, therefore, distorted, emptied of original meanings and available to other interpretations.

What is interesting about ABCC’s work is that it demands an exercise of reflection from its viewers that is at least as important as what the artists themselves have done to the material that has been seized and reorganized: it is as if Alexandre Camarao and Bernardo Simões Correia have invited us to leave the “mark” of our gaze, i.e., of our thinking, in their pictures and videos. These pictures are, in short, mirrors where it is possible to glimpse simple or absurd meanings, direct or obtuse, transparent or opaque - the multiple marks, therefore - that we carry within the depths of ourselves.

Rui Miguel Abreu