Delfim Sardo
Delfim Sardo
Ivo Martins
Mark Gisbourne
By Joana Neves
Mark Gisbourne


Delfim Sardo

Gardens are the main material of Gabriela Albergaria’s work. She uses them as a tool that is simultaneously narrative, aesthetic, anthropological and mnemonic. In any of these terms and these functions, gardens carry out the role of a speech within her work, a speech that is declined according to the specific conditions of each project, using a journey through the issues of landscape, its importance within the context of the construction of social experiences and the memory of the colonial process in the migration of vegetable species.
In the diversity of the supports she uses in her work she defines situations that call upon the spectator to the rediscovery of the place through references to the collective memories that pass through them.
Gardens are in themselves powerful metaphorical constructions, in essence alien to the romantic idea of landscape in the sense that they do not stand out as a fragment, but as an allegory of a world. It is from this configuration of the garden as a world that Gabriela Albergaria’s work arises, much more than from an idea of landscape. In other words, her projects are developed more from the idea that the place of a garden is that of a device that generates an articulation of experiences taken from a historical and social configuration and less from an aesthetic of landscape as a visual ordering of a fragment of the world. Her method is that of understanding the operational mechanics of that micro-cosmos and promoting an intervention that comments on botanical procedures that define a lexicon, a grammar from these methodologies that possess names: grafting, biocenosis, classification, cutting.
The result of this spurious cloning between the universe of botany and artistic devices is always guided according to the memory of artistic genres, to the use of drawing, of sculpture – or more recent ones, like photography, installation, or performances. Thus her interventions are centred on the defining within the exhibition space of situations that feed off a world that in itself is allegorical, and which is produced from a technique and from a culture in order to define a new situation devolved to the beholder’s share (to use Ernest Gombrich’s term) and to his share – as landscape, now fragmentary and bearing a clear determining aesthetic and, one that orders the field of sight.
Thermal, the exhibition that she is presenting now, is made up of two sculptures and three drawings that occupy the whole of the space of the White Pavilion. Starting from the situation of the garden of the Palácio Pimenta, Gabriela Albergaria takes the relationship with the typology of the leisure garden, the echo of the practices of storing and development of natural species and the fictional capacity of the space of the garden as her subjects in order to produce a system of internal references and connections to the architecture of the pavilion. On the ground level a redesigned tree occupies the first room. The methodology of this sculpturising of a tree uses violent and particularly crude processes such as driving steel spikes through the trunk of the tree, the suspending of the tree on cable that lift it up from the floor, the eliminating of the foliage and the grafting of a giant galvanized steel screw which, ironically, would allow it to be mechanically replaced in the ground. There is an echo of extreme violence in the process that goes from the erasing of its botanical identity to the sacrificial system of its suspension, transforming its conversion into a sculpture into a painful and almost brutal process, reinforced by its being imposed onto the space.
In the next room there is a sculpture made of soil, on an almost minimal scale of mass, which repeats the operation of conversion of a now sterilised thermic soil bed, with the upper floor working as an inverted repetition of these process through a didactics of the representation, produced through drawings of landscape and drawings that as a whole produce an explanation about the heat retention produced by soil in a greenhouse: the bigger the greenhouse the greater the heat it gives off.
The exhibition (apparently) makes it explicit how the conversion of the space of the White Pavilion into an enormous hot-house takes place, with the title referring to the process of thermal preservation of fertile land – which, possessing a reference to Joseph Beuys, constructs a machine that that shifts through the metaphor of heat and fertility, now subverted through processes of sterilization and museumisation.
This conversion of the Pavilion also takes place through a performance work that Gabriela Albergaria has specifically built for the inauguration of the exhibition – which can only be used on that day by the spectators – which consists of a structure that provides a specific and outside view on the exhibition room, articulating the antinomy between nature and artificiality, reality and representation, aspects which form the centre of her work.
In the final analysis the process of this complex device lies in an ironic machine about the artificiality of nature, about the process of artificialisation that is inherent to garden architecture, as it is to art.
Let us imagine that some garden peacock, in the baroque caricature of the excess of its feathers, might understand this conversion and, naturally and confined, let out its shrill cry.