Catarina Mil-Homens’ exhibition We Are Also The Ghosts at UMA LULIK__ actively explores the dynamics of corporeality, intending to go beyond the physical dimension to question the relationship between mind and body. This exhibition is in line with the investigation developed by the artist about the human mind linked to its material dimension, exploring the relationships between matter and non-matter.
Having returned to Portugal after eight years in Australia, Catarina Mil-Homens (born in 1979, lives and works in Lisbon) has developed and produced a new series of artworks, now presented in the new gallery space.
Here, she displays sculptures, installations and a video that, at first glance, are highly physical and sensitive in detail. Giving tangibility to her vision of abstract preparatory drawings, she traces, produces and finally combines them in the space. Her research of forms results in a language that accumulates and superimposes three-dimensional elements, which she suspends on the wall.
It is with great precision and delicacy that she uses tough industrial materials (glass, charcoal, resin, metal) and natural elements from her environment (wood bark).
These transformed materials, such as glass, capture and diffract the light in the space. The exhibition is displayed as a dynamic score based on the rhythm and repetition between various densities revealed by the light’s transfiguration.
Her show begins with a black shape that absorbs and passes light through the vertical glass. This installation investigates the relationship between inside and outside, and ultimately between the self and the world, to invite the visitor to become an active participant. An empty triangular shape that produces perspective through its floating charcoal surface is like a path that opens new possibilities to engage further with the work. This single floor piece questions its own vulnerability and how to maintain its integrity.
The main room introduces four new works, including the large wall piece We are Also The Ghosts, as the translation of a drawing that looks like a vibrant grid.
This installation is composed of vertical cables that support thirty suspended and mainly horizontal cut-out glass elements to play with the intense superpositions overlapping each layer. This accumulation can be explored as a variation of the natural green glass colour in which our reflection is fragmented, and our perception is multiplied. With a composition that assembles different shapes, the artist considers this gesture as an open question. It could be a way to gather different facets of oneself, and give space to an awareness in a moment, even if it remains an incomplete perception of ourselves.
On the opposite wall, Lâminas, a series of five works placed on top of each other, reinforces her obsessive and meditative research that relates to an accumulation of different layers of materials. The long glass slats are cut by hand and stacked horizontally on top of a metal bar and preserve their imperfections. In this way, the irregular glass strips and breaks the light. This vertical column of cantilevered structures runs along a wall to define the space by alternating positive and negative volumes of equal size in homage to Donald Judd’s stacks.
In the same approach, relating measurement and repetition, her double piece In Between floats on the wall parallel within itself. A study of gravity, the work relates to water and the horizon line and is composed of agglomerated charcoal dust, liquid resin and crushed solid glass.
The process of piling up a series of cut out elements also appears in Mortalhas / Shroud. Based on the bark of a huge tree the artist visited every day, her project started by collecting its lost skin relating to the paper used for her drawings. She was inspired by the fragility and finesse of the wooden slats appearing like linen textiles or rolling paper. The character of each of these slats leads her to photograph them like nostalgic shrouds to create a slide show video, also exhibited upstairs, before assembling the ensemble as a sculpture.
Catarina’s voice is transported into her artworks along with her intertwined set of values. We haven’t met in person, yet we have a natural understanding of each other. Each of us holds a space beyond our mere physical presence, and the conditions of our conversation only amplified her core belief. She was present with her mind through our exchange to enhance my physical presence. In her unique way of perceiving, her artworks are the result of accumulations that identify us without entirely defining us. Her process is rooted in spiritual and philosophical research yet remains instinctive and intuitive.