Christto & Andrew

"Glory of the artifice and Liquid Portraits"

Glory of the artifice and Liquid Portraits

The desire to possess wonderful things lead Andy Warhol to collect boxes in warehouses, full with objects that he would never see again. Years before, Queen Victoria, whose possessions were extended over several continents, had sought a subterfuge for her desire to collect things; thanks to the improvement on the newly invented photographic technique, she made photo albums where each and every belonging would appear. Part of the pleasure in reviewing these albums was the possibility to replicate any of these objects, in case of deterioration.
What happened in parallel with the research on the photographic techniques and modern economical transformations was significant. While one tried to capture the fugacious nature, the other provided ways to duplicate and overproduce, so that the photographed object would not only be multiplied in its representations, but also in its very essence. In such a way, that currently, not only we have a greater number of images reproduced, as well as the objects themselves, and even the places and people, were cloned, allowing the acquisition of the replicated originals.
Nowadays, we can ask ourselves where's the artifice, what role is played by the imitation, the recreation of all that was so unique before, or how to identify the luxury in modern times. Where lies the value, in the object itself or in the reproduction that demonstrates its possession? Thus, we are labelled, mapped, we receive a toe tag with our names.
Queen Victoria, looking at picture after picture, to different images of the same object, being delighted by her modernity. What is the difference in regards to our self-centeredness; to our perceptions facing a unique and homogenising modernity crossed by the filters of the decolonial, where we keep using the same strategies back from the 19th century, opposing an alleged authenticity as a way to mitigate the original. This authenticity, that is displaced from images to objects, places, people and their behaviours, and even from the affections. It is curious how illustration led to a change when it concerns luxury, so much that it becomes difficult for us to assume it was a predominantly male domain, given the feminization suffered over the past centuries, easily perceive when observing the actual industry.
Christto & Andrew (b. 1985/1987) created a friction zone in this territory where the objects, identities, and their representation multiply by replicating on themselves. It is not in vein that its inclusion into modernity is presented regarding a conflict territory, as Qatar. A place where there is a desire for hypermodernity, to generate contemporaneity understanding wealth and at the same time preserving tradition. Should it remain unaltered or should it be intertwined to this country's modernisation? How? Besides that, this is the vision of two migrants, a Puerto Rican and a South African, who build an imaginary in this space, and from it. It is in this interaction of modernities where they build their photographic production and installation, highlighting that conflict, that permanent schizophrenia.
Therefore, Glory of the Artifice (2015-2016) and Liquid Portraits (2014-2015) are based in traditional structures of history of art, portraits and still life, over which it is imposed a saturation, not only chromatic but also of meaning, generating crisis on our perceptions... It is not in vein, that Western society has been accused of suffering from chromophobia, hereby adding an extra phobia to the homogenised and proposed structures.
If we consider some of the images belonging to this series, such as An Unusual Request (2015) or Collapse of Time (2015), we will see how easily we can identify many of the items that define our contemporary society: communication, protection, security, ostentation, race... even though each of these elements contain its opposite in an obvious and painful way; it is in the frailty of the costume, in the impossibility to make a call, the every detail tells us about fractures.
Over-produced in excess and in its opposite. Floating in identities, which are still framed in rigid structures. It is no longer necessary to highlight the coexistence of alphabets in The Advance of Absoluted Knowledge (2014), as we are crossed by a multitude of languages. It is possible that the best way to make it clear may be by the use of its own tools. By working with the image, as Christto Sanz and Andrew Weir do, but also with the devices in which the images are presented. Demonstrating that this coexistence of modernity is so artificial as the pictures they use to illustrate that, making it notorious that we keep on being images dressed in the disguises of our identities.
With those clothes we go back to the very beginning, to the Countess of Castiglione, a conquer of the artifice attempting to appease her need for freshness, but at the same time for pleasure, in landscapes trapped by paperweights. It is possible that Christto & Andrew's images are able to produce in us a cruel delight with its wonder, and therefore allow us to surprise the world, questioning it through them.

Eduardo García Nieto
Art critic and curator.

Christto & Andrew

Christto & Andrew are a couple of artists currently living and working in Doha, Qatar. Their images are intertwined as if they were pieces of a puzzle to present through a sedimentation of symbols, the effects of history, politics, economy and popular culture in which contemporary society is based, specifically in the Arabian context. Thus, each object or character portrayed in their photos is converted into symbolic reflections of these stratifications that can be found in the Qatari society. They use Qatar as an example, exaggerating in its colours and compositions; and with a particular humour they signal the constant development and malleable state of transformation this country is facing. Likewise, some recovered objects from the building areas are transformed into concrete moulds, and the workers into models, creating through photography a subversion of the notions of value, commercialization and occupation. Christto and Andrew do not criticize, but show two parallel dialogues, from locals and from foreigners, which together weave this complex network of cultures and subcultures, so present in most contexts of the Gulf and MENA region.
The artistic practice of Christto and Andrew evolves as a symbiotic process reinforced by a cross-pollination of their different backgrounds.

Artists Represented by 

Place of Exhibition

Museu Nogueira da Silva

More information soon.

Institutional Partners

Braga UM DGArtes GovernoPortugal