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Le monde Diplomatique


Lisbon, December 2022

The refrain of John & Yoko's pacifist campaign, culminating in the sugary song "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" (1971), is hijacked by the old and worn Spirit Of Past Conceptual Art. The other victim is a respectable political newspaper, rudely forced to wear the guise of a sensationalist tabloid.
The scissors and sewing work results in:

• A bunch of altered replicas of "Le Monde Diplomatique", punctuated by the insidious "... is over, if you want it";
• Ten front pages of the authentic newspaper (one for each month of war in Ukraine, during 2022), covered with false titles, painstakingly painted on a light table;
• Half a dozen poorly printed letterpress proofs, with the inscription "Print is over, if you want it";
• A series of  screenprints (70cmx100 cm), bearing the altered image of the couple John & Yoko holding a sign - "War is over" - and a bag - "Trump is over".

Snatching, cynicism, an anemic and tired Art & Language
atmosphere, more than half a century old... None of this seems to be "untimely", transgressing the current "master narratives" or simply "vibrant" (none of this could sweep Knox Harrington of his feet). Still, we don't need to dispatch it with the “no future” stamp (not just yet). It is true that the irony seems cast in a terminal way: overwhelmed by the last days of humanity, the eternal pessimist loses his mind and surrenders to delirious euphoria. The repetition, “... is over... if you want it”, indistinctly poured over capital themes and fait-divers, would reveal the reverse side of utopia. However, the relationship with historical time seems to be a little less abrupt than the punk motto. Perhaps these newspapers on steroids haven't been completely overtaken by the rage of alternative facts. The deviations practiced by the avant-garde and the neo-avant-garde can be twisted by the alt-right memes, but nothing prevents the twist from being taken in a more subtle direction. The latest version of the totalitarian will asserts “All you need is alternative facts”… Yet, absurd sentences like “Birds aren’t real” or “Rashee Sanook is over” circulate amidst the confusion as contrast agents. They may not put an end to crypto-fascism or the apocalyptic vertigo, but they can bring to light the grotesque forms assumed by those bitter twists of the will (if you want it).

Text by Luís Henriques
Exhibition at O Homem do Saco

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