Susana Mendes Silva

PHANTASIA, 2007 | DIGITAL C-PRINT, 113 x 200 cm

The eight pictures that compose Susana Mendes Silva’s series Phantasia show several layers of research. In the first image, the confluence of two artists, two epochs and two manners of communication presents the question posed by the work: the reality of the hand that holds a notebook (a sign for research, inwardness, and thought). On the open page we see the image of a painting, the self-portrait of Aurélia de Sousa (1866-1922). Susana Mendes Silva chose to use photography in this work as a reference to Aurélia de Sousa’s work process – this artist painted from photographs. But it is the framing – very close to the framing used in the self-portrait painting – in the photographs that show the body of the artist that suggests the idea of appropriation, not only of the work process, but also of the subject of self-representation itself. The Phantasia series brings back to mind another work, Polaroid (2004): a video that shows the time it takes for an image – a portrait of the artist – to develop and become visible in a Polaroid. The image was repeated in an unending loop, until the border between appearing and disappearing merged as the remains of reality. In Phantasia, the artist repeats the possible movements that precede the artistic process of Aurélia de Sousa – dressing up with a red jacket –, and in doing so she amplifies a past process, transforming it into a performance, and integrates another character, another process and another time, retiring herself from her own reality. If we look at its etymology, one of the meanings of the word is phantom, a faint, ephemeral and evanescent figure; and thus a link is established with the delicate self-representation that tragically ends necessarily with its own absence. In the last photograph of the series, the presence of two figures representing the same one creates a third presence, arising from an undetermined time, with the ambiguous expressiveness of someone who shares with us something unintelligible, in a fleeting unintentional moment.

Born in Lisbon, 1972


2007 PhD candidate in Fine Art (Studio Based Research) Goldsmiths College, London
1997 BA in Fine Arts/Sculpture Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade de Lisboa


2006 Did I hurt you?, Zoom, Galeria Carlos Carvalho, Lisbon
2005 Words in my mind, Casa d’Os Dias da Água, Lisbon
2005 Life-cage, Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon


2007 25 frames por segundo: vídeos da Colecção da Fundação PLMJ, Cinema São Jorge, Lisbon
2007 Entre a palavra e a imagem, Museu da Cidade, Lisboa; Centro Cultural Vila Flor, Guimarães
2007 Deslocações, Braga Parque, Braga
2006 (Re)volver, Plataforma Revólver, Lisbon
2006 Entre a palabra e a imaxe, Fundación Luis Seoane, A Corunha
2006 Manicómio Dr. Heribaldo Raposo – Interpretações, Museu da Cidade, Lisbon

Performance and other projects (selection)

2006 Art_room #3, networked performance, Upgrade! International, Oklahoma City, USA
2006 Sheet, in E-zine Vector
2006 Bare Life conversation!, organized by Empyre in collaboration with Documenta 12 Magazine
2005 Art_room, networked performance, Identidades Virtuais,Lisbon
2005 Person with t’shirt #2, by Maria João Garcia and Susana Mendes Silva, Festival Número, Lisbon
2005 Um beijo (na face), Loja do Lopes, Lisbon

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