Submitted by WA Contents

BUREAU-designed "X is Not a Small Country" at MAAT looks at post-global conditions in the pandemic

Portugal Architecture News - Aug 03, 2021 - 09:58   2627 views

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country exhibition was opened at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) to look at today's post-global conditions that have accelerated and distorted during the current pandemic.

Curated by Aric Chen with Martina Muzi, the exhibition is designed by Geneva and Lisbon-based architecture studio BUREAU and features nine newly created projects from top international practitioners working across the fields of design, architecture and art, including Liam Young, Ibiye Camp, Wolfgang Tillmans, Bard Studio, Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen.

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, installation view: Bricklab, Tactile Cinema, 2021. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

The main theme of the exhibition explores the processes of de-globalisation and geopolitical realignment at different scales – territories, cities, infrastructures, platforms, bodies and objects – which have constantly been seen in rapidly-evolving cycles of flux and revision during the current pandemic.

X is Not a Small Country was opened to the public on 18 March and will be on view until 6 September, 2021 at MAAT in Lisbon, Portugal.

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, exhibition view. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

The title of the exhibition takes its name from "an iconic 1934 poster by Henrique Galvão (“Portugal is not a small country”) that promoted the then-nationalist government’s idea of Portugal as a “pluricontinental” nation whose overseas possessions were not colonies but rather integral parts of sovereign territory." 

"The ways in which many of these former colonial relationships have now been upended formed a starting point for the show," MAAT explained.

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, exhibition view. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

Designed in an oval layout, the exhibition examines an interesting hypothesis of post-global presences in a fragmented narrative freely distributed in the exhibition space. 

These narrative includes the engagement of a performative intervention on the US-Mexico border, the presentation of an archaeology of mass objects traded between China and India, a journey of travelling digitally through the devastating effects of oil extraction in the Niger Delta, or the issues of global migration, disenfranchisement and post-colonial capital on the outskirts of Lisbon - which are all observed with the fluctuations in access and restrictions.

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, installation view: Paulo Moreira, Jamaika Model, 2021. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

The exhibition is enriched with video displays, objects, posters, screens, architectural models, 1:1 interventions, to directly present a sense of physical experience of the current issues. 

In the exhibition design, BUREAU focused on five elements: Fieldwork: the resurrection of Henrique Galvão’s 1934 map, a complex referential transnational framework, Translation: the very actual and misused topic of borders, peripheries, nations dictating conventions on one side of a line against what might happen on the other, Lines: suggested by a deformed, half invisible grid offering potential narratives of referential diversity, blurring north-south orientations, Geography: an insinuated three-dimensional space grid eludes any clear belonging and Choice: “if I had to choose between The Doors and Dostoyevsky, then – of course – I’d choose Dostoyevsky. But do I have to choose?” (Susan Sontag in Jonathan Cott, The Complete Rolling Stone Interview, Yale University Press, 2013).

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, exhibition view. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

The studio used a universal grid system that has a particular power that extends way beyond its graphical presence. According to BUREAU, in art, grid "appeared as an optical device for visual explorations on perspective, particularly intense in the times of Paolo Uccello". "In cartography, Cartesian coordinates have occupied extensively the world of maps as a reference system since the 17th century."

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, exhibition view. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

The architects explain the power of grid with these words, "What it reveals is what might appear over the grid once it is laid out. What it masks or occults is a pre-existing condition that its own laying out has covered, as an erasing action over a prevailing context."

"The discussion about the validity of the grid as a referential system is thus naturally complex, even more so in an exhibition dealing with post-globalism conditions that have placed its pivotal line of thought on a map (Henrique Galvão’s 1934 Portugal não é um pais pequeno - Portugal is not a small country), opening the door to cartography as a colonization tool," the firm said.

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, installation view: Liam Young, Planet City, 2020. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

BUREAU's fragmented exhibition design unfolds this complex and long history and moves the grid system to a three-dimensional level to address the contemporary issues of mapping the world and its transformation in data-based realities.

With this new physical attribution, the exhibition also confesses a certain degree of convoluted confusion in referencing the world.

The studio asks that "Once the power game of north-south or east-west classifications has been blurred, as the geopolitical state of the world obviously indicates currently, what grid system could faithfully order or re-order the geolocation of physical and virtual presences?."

"Is the Cartesian coordinates grid still politically acceptable? Was it ever? Indirectly, the endless nature of the grid opens a discussion as well on borders, frontiers, and domination agendas."

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, installation view: Liam Young, Planet City, 2020. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

In the exhibition, the space follows a division traced for the visitors to somehow confront them with an itinerary choice. The design and art pieces tackle quite openly this sense of dis-belonging following the conventional understanding of national identities.

In the exhibition space, the objects are scattered “freely” on one side or the other of a physical and fictional line: a border wall. They appear and disappear in relation to each other, the museum’s architecture, and exhibition design.

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, installation view: Liam Young, Planet City, 2020. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

Through a scattered layout, media, physical presence and virtual are organized in a unbounded space that is impossible to classify. It becomes the choice of the visitor to re-arrange north-south-east-west logics and to recompose them in a contemporary condition, a renewed historical fiction.

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, installation view: Wolfgang Tillmans, Anti-Brexit Campaign, 2016 - Protect the European Union, 2017. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

The visual identity and graphic project were developed by Joana Pestana, with Max Ryan, reflects the challenge of articulating the complexities of the global order through the use of different data sources drawing upon different planetary phenomena and the seeming randomness of colliding systems at scale.

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, exhibition view. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, exhibition view. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era. Installation view of Real San Fratello, Teeter-Totter Wall 2019-2021. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

BUREAU-designed

X is Not a Small Country - Unravelling the Post-Global Era, exhibition view. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (Lisbon), 2021. Image © Francisco Nogueira

BUREAU-designed

Plan

BUREAU-designed

Section

BUREAU-designed

Furniture

BUREAU-designed

Axonometric drawing

BUREAU-designed

Axonometric plan

BUREAU-designed

Axonometric partial drawing

The works presented in the exhibition are: Bard Studio (Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty), Bricklab (Abdulrahman Hisham Gazzaz and Turki Hisham Gazzaz), Ibiye Camp, Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen, He Jing, Liam Young, Paulo Moreira (with Chão - Oficina de Etnografia Urbana and José Sarmento Matos), Rael San Fratello (Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello) and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Project facts

Project name: X is Not a Small Country

Curator: Aric Chen, with Martina Muzi 

Exhibition design: BUREAU (Daniel Zamarbide, Carine Pimenta, Galliane Zamarbide, Jolan Haidinger, Loïs Weber, Chiara Pezzetta)

Graphic design: Joana Pestana and Max Ryan

Location: MAAT, Lisbon, Portugal 

Date: 2021

All images © Francisco Nogueira

All drawings © MAAT 

> via MAAT