press release

July 20–October 29, 2023

How Many Worlds Are We?

Artists: Ayrson Heráclito (Brazil), Jonathas de Andrade (Brazil), Pratchaya Phinthong (Thailand), Soe Yu Nwe (Myanmar), Tawatchai Puntusawasdi (Thailand), Torlarp Larpjaroensook (Thailand), Vasco Araújo (Portugal), Vuth Lyno (Cambodia), Wantanee Siripattananuntakul (Thailand), Yonamine (Angola)

Curator: Alexandre Melo

How Many Worlds Are We? explores the notion of East and West in traditional and contemporary cultural practices between Amazonas and Southeast Asia. The transformation of the dynamics of cultural relations between regions, made distant in the past due to geography, is revealed today as an important factor in the decisive mutations in the social landscape of the world we live in. This exhibition shows an array of parallels to be drawn between cultural experiences in an attempt to understand the presence of “nature” and the “spirit” of the “forest”.

According to curator Alexander Melo’s research and reflections made during the past few years in the West, namely in Latin America (mainly in Brazil and in the states of Amazonas and Bahia), and in the East (mainly in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries), this exhibition arose with the aim of gathering a diverse group of contemporary artists active in these regions. Besides a decentering of geo-cultural perspectives, we search for the possibility of a confrontation between different ways of relating to notions like nature, spirituality or humanity.

The approach is not anthropological or ecological, in a strict sense, but still takes “nature” and “spirit”—namely in relation to the “forest” and the entities that inhabit it, in Brazil or in Thailand—as main topics or references to help the audience understand the knowledge, motivations and expectations expressed in the work of the selected artists, namely, in the way in which they articulate an eventual affiliation to a specific cultural tradition with potential insertion in the global dynamics of popular mass culture.

The sculptures, installations, photography, and film in this exhibition investigate how we can re-imagine our relations with nature and the realm of the spiritual within a kind of poetic intelligence as it manifests itself in the work of the artists we present.

How many worlds are we?

About curator: Alexandre Melo
PhD and Master in Economics, Doctorate in Sociology and Professor of Sociology of Art and Culture (ISCTE-IUL), curator and art critic. Since the early 1980s, has written for publications such as Jornal de Letras (Lisbon), Expresso (Lisbon), El País (Madrid), Flash Art (Milan) or Parkett (Zurich). He is a regular contributor to Artforum (New York).

He curated exhibitions in Portugal and abroad: 10 Contemporary, Serralves Museum, Porto; Eduardo Batarda, Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon: Venice Biennial—Julião Sarmento; São Paulo Biennial—Rui Chafes / Vera Mantero; Portugal Novo, Pinacoteca São Paulo, etc.

Recent exhibitions: Liquid Skin - Apichatpong Weerasethakul / Joaquim Sapinho, MAAT, Lisbon; Roi Soleil—Albert Serra, Galeria Graça Brandão, Palácio Pombal, Lisbon; E pluribus unum—Douglas Gordon, Miroslaw Balka, Rui Chafes, Galeria Marília Razuk, São Paulo; 1000 Imagens—John Baldessari, Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner, Renee Greene, Pratchaya Phintong, Rosângela Rennó, Wantanee Siripatananunthakul, etc, Galeria Cristina Guerra, Lisbon; Life, Still Life—Cristina Iglesias, Lia Chaia, Vasco Araujo, Galeria Presença, Porto.

He was curator of the contemporary art collections “Ellipse Foundation” and “Banco Privado for Serralves”. He was Cultural Counsellor in the Portuguese Government (2005/2011).