AboutIkon presents the first major UK exhibition of work by Portuguese artists Joà £o Maria Gusmà £o (Lisbon, 1979) and Pedro Paiva (Lisbon, 1977). The pair create objects, installations and short films which they describe as poetic philosophical fiction. Having worked together since 2001, in recent years there has been increasing international interest in their practice, culminating in their representation of Portugal at the 2009 Venice Biennale.
The work of Gusmà £o and Paiva constitutes a deeply curious investigation into the nature of reality, in which there is constant circulation between fact and fiction. Their projects are informed by a wide range of references, including historical literature, mythology and the occult, which they draw into their own pseudo-scientific investigations.
The exhibition at Ikon focuses solely on their short 16mm films, featuring those recently made in Brazil alongside a selection from the last five years. They reflect the artists' ongoing preoccupations: blindness and vision, metaphysics, the void and infinity. Usually set in deserts or other spartan landscapes, some incorporate a strange cast of characters who enact anarchic rituals or demonstrations, while others are unpopulated, their dream-like quality created by the artists' use of slow-motion or multiple exposure of the film. All are silent. Projected in a darkened space, the films en masse operate as a visual essay that evokes anthropological mystery.
In Experiment on the Effluvium (2009), a slow-motion film of a stone skimmed across the water's surface resembles a mythological planetary event, while Astronomy Of The End Of The Boot (2009), in which a man observes the skies through a hole in his shoe, demonstrates a more literal way of experiencing the world.
Different subjective positions are brought together in a complex conceptual narrative that demonstrates a smart humour. This also informs our reading of an accompanying publication, featuring essays by the artists, writers Marcus Steinweg and Sarah Robayo Sheridan and selected excerpts from the Kabbalah tradition, Fernando Pessoa, Pascal and Nietzsche.