Caroline Mesquita at Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lissabon

Press release:
Kunsthalle Lissabon and Galeria Municipal do Porto present Astray, a two-part project by Caroline Mesquita, and the first time the Marseille-based artist shows in Portugal. Presented in a collaborative way by the two institutions, the project borrows its narrative structure from the literary genre of scientific fiction. Astray (Prologue) opens at Kunsthalle Lissabon on December 12, at 6.30 pm, and is open to the public from December 13 to February 8, 2019. Astray, curated by Sofia Lemos, will be presented at Galeria Municipal do Porto, with its opening scheduled for March 16, 2019, ending on May 19, 2019.

In Prologue, Mesquita defines the event that shapes the narrative of the project. Kunsthalle Lissabon’s underground exhibition space is completely transformed from an architectural point of view. In the center of the exhibition the marble floor collapsed completely giving way to a large cavity. Somewhere between a hole and a cave, the collapsed floor reveals a strange large apparatus, an ambiguous machine, simultaneously means of transportation and tunneling machine, which lies inert, half-unearthed and exposed to air and light. It looks old, rusty but its presence is uncertain, inconclusive. Perhaps it is the cause of the downfall of Kunsthalle Lissabon’s floor. However, correlation does not necessarily mean causality, and the two events may not be bound by any cause-and-effect relationship. Nothing is obvious. A closer look reveals that something else is present inside the collapsed floor: bones. Human bones, animal bones, uncertain bones that seem to have come out, or been projected from the inside of the metal body that occupies much of the cavity. They are the remains of dehydrated, fossilized bodies of an ark of sorts, a an unlikely testimony from a distant past or a distant future.

Mesquita intertwines the imaginary of the archaeological exploration with narratives of science fiction literature creating a strange and disconcerting atmosphere in which the visitor is confronted with what appears to be an unusual accident, one that reveals an alternative history, the tentative existence of another civilization or society whose traits one can only have glimpses of. The past they belong to is uncertain. Maybe they come to us from the future, not the past. Maybe neither. Perhaps once exposed to water the bones will rehydrate and reform the beings of which they were once part of. We do not know. Maybe more time is needed.

A bilingual publication documenting the artist’s research around the speculative fable that forms the solo shows at Kunsthalle Lissabon and at Galeria Municipal do Porto will be published at a later stage.

Caroline Mesquita (1989, Brest, France) lives and works in Marseille, France. Mesquita graduated from the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2013 and attended The Mountain School of Art, in Los Angeles. A selection of her recent solo shows includes Night Engines, 19ème Prix de la Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018); The Machine Room, Parcours Art Basel (2018); Night Engines, T293, Rome (2017); The Visitors, SALTS, Basel (2017), The Ballad, Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris (2017); Pink everywhere, Kunstverein Langenhagen, Germany; Cream Sacr/f/ce, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, Scotland (2016); Camping, Union Pacific, London (2015); Les Bains-Douches, Les Bains-Douches, Alengon, France (2014); and Tube, 1m3, Lausanne, Switzerland (2013). Her work was featured in many group shows, namely GRAND OPENING (Summer Rhapsody), KURA., Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, Milan (2018); Loopstar, Mother Culture, Los Angeles (2018); Voici des Fleurs, La Loge, Brussels (2018); COOL MEMORIES, Occidental Temporary, Villejuif (2016); Europe, Europe, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway (2014); The Space Between Us, Fahrenheit, Los Angeles (2014); Memory Palaces, Carlier-Gebauer, Berlin (2014); La Vie Matärielie, 156me Prix Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris (2013); an Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market, Monnaie de Paris, Paris (2012). Mesquita won, in 2017, the 19th edition of the Prix Fondation d’entreprise Ricard.

Kunsthalle Lissabon is generously supported by República Portuguesa – Direção Geral das Artes, Coleção Maria e Armando Cabral and Teixeira de Freitas, Rodrigues e Associados. The exhibition Astray (Prologue) is supported by Pólo Cultural Gaivotas-Boavista /CML and Galeria Municipal do Porto – Câmara Municipal do Porto.

Artist: Caroline Mesquita
Venue: Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lissabon
Exhibition title: Astray (Prologue)
Date: December 12, 2018 – February 08, 2019

Photography: Bruno Lopes.
Text/Press release and images provided by the event.
© Caroline Mesquita and Kunsthalle, Lissabon PORTUGAL E.U.