Text about Miguel Palma work, published in Initiare – Colecção de Arte Contemporânea IAC/CCB – Aquisições 1997-1999 (pg. 67-69). Lisboa: Instituto de Arte Contemporânea, Instituto de Arte Contemporânea, 2000.
Carbon 14, 1994
In this piece of work, the artist superimposes several layers of soil and different miniature objects in an enormous showcase box, thus creating an archaeological reality for observation by the spectator. Notwithstanding the evident tridimensionality of the sculpted piece, we could say that, due to their graphic quality, they are similar to a stratographic record. These sections of the expositor are visually close to the cross sections of archaeological drawings, enabling one to analyse in detail the order of formation and the physical composition of these various sequences. Deposited among the different layers, architectonic structures and vestiges of basic sanitation systems appear, mixed in with automobile vehicles. These are elements which function as 20th century signs, traces of the present which Miguel Palma invests with an archaeological dimension. Such a process, ideally sending the past into the present, indicates a fascination for time and its effects which is recurrent in the works of the author, continuing some of his research projects carried out during the 90´s. In this context, it is useful to refer to the Cemiterra-Geraterra project (1991-2000), concluded this year, when Miguel Palma recovered from the gardens of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation a paralepiled buried ten years beforehand, which contained a terrestrial globe. Here, as in Carbon 14, rather than following the process of physical decomposition of the materials, importance was given to exploring, symbolically, the idea and perception of the course of time. The image of the buried terrestrial globe brings to mind, among several disturbing ideas, that of a hibernation of the world. In its turn, the digging up of the whole structure stimulates questions about its future. In Carbon 14, the future dimension is also explored. On the surface, the plough churning up the fertile soil seems to mark a reference to the future occupation of the space. It makes us think of its use in agriculture, which would undoubtedly contradict the urbanizing tendency of contemporary society, and which opens up perspectives for reflection. Miguel Palma´s «clues» function as the making visible of possibilities that time and its historical record could, as they progress, consider. Thus, whether we are dealing with a remote past which has devoured the present, or a future which the bearings of actuality are making improbable, the layers of time that the author selects and exhibits are visions, virtual fragments of a personal and collective History yet to be discovered.