The Blade of a Subtle Knife
The works Catarina Mil-Homens presents in this exhibition, On the Blade, emerge from the shadows, from the immaterial and the impalpable, carving their way to the light that resides in the space of the physical and of the nominable. A matter known by its duality, both an ephemeral force and a mark of permanence, charcoal is the protagonist of her works; drawings modelled by the repetition of the gesture and by the superimposition of compact layers of profusely black dust.
Through the dense accumulation of charcoal dust, Catarina Mil-Homens creates areas of absolute darkness, illusory because they keep their true depth to themselves, and trigger the attraction of the abyss, magnetic in its promise of a numbing of the senses. During this descent, matter becomes accessory; we dive into a work to emerge in another and submerge right after, again and again — they are all connected, open doors to sequential abysses. There are close relationships of consecutiveness and simultaneity between the works presented in On the Blade, and it is difficult to establish a chronology of each moment of creation. It is this foundation of an aesthetic unity that transforms the works, all of them, into an installation. They cease to be individual pieces and create an environment that seizes the room and forgoes any hierarchization of the works: they cannot be subtracted or overlapped, they are always mutually and infinitely additive.
Reflecting on materiality, whether that of coal or existence itself, Catarina Mil-Homens overlays the weight of the medium’s visibility, which subjugates through the total absorbance of the light it never reflects, with the measurable physical weightlessness of the medium as object. The cut with the real happens in the asymmetry between actual and sensorial weight, between the palpable and the material — and once again, existence is sucked into a carbonic black hole. This illusion develops in the plasticity of the objects, on the texture we see and in the darkness we feel, in the subtlety of each grain that makes up the space and relativizes time. This is the blade of a subtle knife, one that finds the knot, the flaw in the dimensional plane we live in, slides through the fissure and cuts the way to the other side.
Thinking about materiality, we cannot avoid resorting to that which is closer to the consciousness: the body that it inhabits and that contains it. When we see this relationship as symbiotic but (often) strictly closed, overcoming the physical body through action can establish new connections with what exists beyond matter, and new ways to substantiate it. Through the reiteration of a manual, disciplined gesture, Catarina Mil-Homens takes her body to the limits of exhaustion, to the point that it also becomes a blade, one that cuts new openings into this abyss that only she can see, because she sits on this razor’s edge, over and under the blade, peering over both sides.
When facing the abyss, it is impossible not to feel: because darkness is also vertigo.