THE GREAT ESCAPE, 2023
Comission work for FENDA at Fundação Eugénio de Almeida
Curated by Francisca Portugal and Joaquim Caetano
To begin a contextualization of the piece, I have to start with the place where we find it: in the Sala do Tribunal, one of the only memories of the primitive function of the Inquisition (or of the Tribunal of the Holy Office), under a baroque ceiling that presents the emblem in the center of the Cross flanked by the sword and the olive tree. What we see, then, is a sculpture I called The Great Escape (which shares its name with the 1963 film, based on a true story that took place in World War II, directed by John Sturges, in which hundreds of Allied prisoners try to escape from a German prison), a kind of saddled dragon (tamed monster?) crosses the room and offers space for five riders to escape and some space for their objects (both weapons and flowers). Thousands of people were sentenced to death for “heresies” (translated into “choices”, conscious gestures, therefore, condemnable) in this place. My work here has, in part, sought both to pay tribute to these victims and to create a contemporary commentary on the modes of alienation and abstraction in the face of the prisons and sentences of the human condition today (not so radically different from the conditions that made erect this and other similar buildings). This piece, in this place, makes me think that any utopia or fantasy that allows an escape (individual or collective) – a religion, political ideology, psychedelic drug – or that, at least, fits the term “opium of the people”, has its value and space of resistance.