About the exhibition “Strange Objects” and CIAJG

The review I wrote about the exhibition Strange objects: essays on proto-sculpture, held at CIAJG in 2017, has been published in the e-Cadernos CES magazine, in a volume dedicated to museums and cultural democracy. Although, I confess, I had some initial resistance to the CIAJG’s curatorial project the first time I visited it, my interest in the institution has grown considerably over time, and I am now, in general, an assiduous attendee of the exhibitions and other initiatives that take place there. There are three reasons for my particularly enjoyment of the work of CIAJG:

First, is the intersection between the arts and the social and human sciences that the institution provides, both in curatorial principles and in some exhibitions. Concepts and ideas that have been debated in the humanities – non-teleological history, the concept of atmospheres, nocturnal history, to name just a few examples – are often focal points through which some of the proposals are developed. The exhibitions are not only places to feel (side that is not at all neglected, quite the opposite), but also places to think.

Second, is the presence of what can be called the effect of estrangement: it seems there is always something in the exhibitions that is apparently out of place or out of context, making it necessary to look twice to question the presence of certain objects or images. “What is this object doing in this exhibition?” Is the question that comes up frequently when I visit CIAJG. It seems that the exhibition is somehow challenging the visitor, preventing an immediate and total understanding; in its place, tension and doubt predominate, not in a frustrating but in a stimulating way.

Third, the way CIAJG mixes, frequently, objects from different geographic and temporal contexts: the contemporary arts are intersected with historical objects, folk arts, and objects of everyday life, which are generally lacking in the art museum. This solution is not only interesting from a plastic point of view, but, I think, absolutely pertinent to challenge established hierarchies and thinking about the place of the different arts in the contemporary museum. Some of these points were addressed in the text I wrote about one of my favorite exhibitions of the CIAJG: Strange objects, proto-sculpture essays. The text is available to anyone who wants to read it at: https://journals.openedition.org/eces/

Images from the website of the exhibition:
http://www.ciajg.pt/_objectos_estranhos_ensaio_de_protoescultura&ct=581&mop=28