Intersecting stories

Intersecting Stories [Histórias Cruzadas] is the title of this exhibition by artist Sofia de Medeiros (born 1975); it combines, in a space filled with meanings (the Roman ruins of Villa de Milreu, Estói, Algarve), two sets of works never shown before together, Brincos de Princesa – Nem Princípio Nem Fim [Fuchsia HybridaNeither Beginning Nor Ending], a 2010 project, and As Outras [The Others], from 2012.

Looking back to the peopling of the Azorean archipelago, handmade tasks were almost all performed by women, and played a fundamental role in household economy. Popular handcrafts, as weaving, sowing, knitting and embroidery, were part not only of everyday household tasks but also of the islands’ cultural and social growth. Thus, Sofia de Medeiros’ interest in the role women play in the Azorean society is here quite clear, for her works are simultaneously a continuance of these ancient techniques and homage to all these women who sought in the popular arts the improvement of their abilities and a place in society.

The first series of the trilogy Brincos de Princesa[1] [Fuchsia Hybrida], called Nem princípio Nem fim [Neither Beginning Nor Ending], carries us into the woman’s imagination, for the artist subtly combines the erudition of the themes – knight-errantry tales, children’s fairy tales, religious, musical and gastronomic traditions – with popular art. She mixes new concepts, techniques and materials with ancient wisdom learnt from generation to generation. Sofia de Medeiros is recipient and recreates her cultural heritage through an original output filled with aesthetic and symbolic references.

In the project As Outras [The Others], the artist creates five floating skirts – an iron cast structure covered in cloth, weaving, plastic, cut paper, Azorean aprons, in some cases reminding us of the old bedspreads or the traditional outfits, bearing iconographic motives of the Azorean popular culture. ‘It was in the bosom of the rural families that the bedspreads were woven using linen and brightly coloured wool threads…’ [2]

This project is born from the fusion between art and dance, the female body and the garment pieces. Once again, Sofia de Medeiros enhances the importance of the different social roles played by women, the different ‘skins’ they have to wear.

The others inside me, the other women I have inside me…[3]

The exhibition Intersecting Stories at the rural house built (sixteenth to nineteenth centuries) on top of the ruins of Villa de Milreu in Estói, a place withholding one, two or more stories. From the intersection of these stories, new narratives come to light, new relationships between the objects exhibited and the livelihoods created by the audience. The works intersect space and time. The objects communicate and prolong the dialogue into the audience, who revisit their own narratives, their stories and History in them. The universe of the woman which, after all, is the universe of every person, and which turns and turns, as in an eternal dance, in brief moments of everyday life.

 

Contemporaneousness in the work of Sofia de Medeiros arises from tradition, joining these two concepts. The artist recreates the understanding of the works as objects of contemplation and perception. The game of symmetry in her works shows and seeks in the image of the other the identity of a people made up of so many and only one at the same time.

Tânia Alegria

August 2012

[1] A hybrid South-American plant with pendulous teardrop shaped flowers.

[2] Tecelagem antiga dos Açores – elementos para o inventário artístico e técnico. CRAA.

[3] Sofia de Medeiros