Traces of anonymous creativity1
Bronze pearls strung together by the sea, their sheen indicates the fiery spotlight of the collective dream. We thought that their lights were comparable to their shadows but we were wrong. Behind the delicate and ephemeral appearance are hidden the lives of those who want more . New constellations offering to the elements, stars drifting in the winds and the currents, for such is the compass that imposes itself on their domains, and nothing that we do will stop its necessary advance.
Footprints in the sand left by the first inhabitants, these indomitable jewels adorn the southern edge of the world 2.
1.- When laziness plays and creates
Work and leisure appear as separate activities in the structuring and specialization of time under the spectacle. However, this is quite an obvious split, since both share the same substrate of utility and profit.
But in that grave hiatus when the sun sets by the sea, the Great Schism gives way to Harmony. During the meager respite that work grants to rest – alienated time as the opposite of slavery, but nevertheless a passage that permits one’s arrival at promising lands – we attend the uncontrollable awakening of the fertile application of the human being. This is about a chore without any specific purpose, and free, at least from those urgent productive requirements. As long as it isn't raising a fence of reeds and shells to deter the fury of fishermen hungry for moss, is it considered an exercise in military engineering. Or of civil construction, molding the algae that shelters the cannibals who would be kings...
2.- To burn the ships
One leaves the factory or the office in the same state of mind as when entering them. We are hurried along by the consumption of pre-catalogued experiences that are equipped with mechanisms that impede any extensive relationship with the world.
However, during the sovereign display of creation, desire lays siege, snakes its way, through the air, and obliterates all technological euphoria. Any initiative ready to be implemented in well-trained leisure remains hopelessly shelved. To dress up in seaweed and set the stage of the new existence are all that remain to be done by the survivors of shipwrecks, divers who carry on their backs the islands of hope, while within the sand-dunes the fingers of children become longer.
3.- The scale is ours
The works of men, those arrogant factories without proportion, defy gravity and dislocate the bodies that contemplate them. They are harmful consequences of technological black magic. Abandoning all contact with their creators, they start a lonely journey that completely breaks all order in the world. Curses that distance themselves from the diminished ones, they retain no relations with anything human.
Now it is imagination that does the building, and desire or need guides it with skill: to summon a strong pirate or offer a towel to someone with a sunburn. Now we look face to face at what our hands have lifted and equality is the scale. If the job of cloud-maker didn’t exist, then it does now. But the sea-spray is ours. Although it doesn't evaporate without permeating one’s bones. And if we decipher its alphabet of water droplets, it is because, using the moisture as a primordial material, we imitate the atmospheric laws. Thus we build dark vaults that shelter the observers of the horizon.
4.- The joyful crime of ornament
Efficiency is containment, an imposition of limits and an impediment to overflow. It is the instinct toward self-preservation and sadness. It corresponds to a neat existence polished by the rhythmic repetition of the mechanical and deadly gesture of paralysis.
With the ease with which a child scribbles, and from an inner impulse that completely pervades him, there appears this exposure of chaos, this unavoidable fluidity of being. Such a waste of time and vigor reveals the absence of self-control, the foaming violence that solidifies in “cultural regressions” that overflow with joy. The sand gleams brightly with deposited ornaments for which, at least for a moment, have proven to be the ignorant and the obsolete of the present world. Those who stop and contemplate. Those who waste, the useless ones.
The unconquered ones who offer themselves in the fire of all the altars. Above them, the pendulum of the tides.
5.- Common compulsions
The creative impulse is exposed to the real protagonists, professionalized and transferred to the cultural sphere. Until the so-called “coarse” or “eccentric” expressions go straight along the path that leads from the edge to the art academy. Then inexcusably,
for what has been petrified needs new blood, and it returns to the street – or the sand. Thus the outsider artist of Isla Deserta plunges his sculpture into the beach and continues to “interact” with the public.
However, the seductiveness of the fundamental expression of the mundane is found in the lack of artistic ambition. Its barbaric significance lies not in the final result, but in the state of mind that it has managed to summon. When descending the stairway of inspiration, the various imposed and delineated strata of existence are crossed and liberated, and the human being reaches the threshold of yearning freedom.
He plays then, lost in thought and having conquered something for himself, completely fluid and natural, without any exhibitionism or the desire for permanency, and much more typical of the “artistic aristocracy”. In the happiest anonymity, pounding on the machinery of the cultural institution, there emerges the childish, visionary, marginal or self-taught part that pulsates in all women and men. The ultimate reward of such rapture is the pure crystallisation of a “compulsory community”, in the sense that the creative urge is common.
Such is the complexity of these primary gifts that, if they don't speak in the aesthetic sense – although with a carefulness in their arrangement and a certain theatricality that do not go unnoticed – they strongly imply, and so are, above all else, a primary presence. Such is their transgressive tension, which does not state the established but subtly breaks it. Such is the community of primitivism that they offer in order to overcome a merely apparent loneliness. This is poetry made by all3.
6.- The ephemeral silence of the human
The noise and the crowd – the noise of the crowd – preside over our dazed and weary world. Interferences between man and his environment, they keep away from the essence, in the unstoppable flight into emptiness.
Much to the contrary, the ancient rhythm of nature inspires, as does the absolute presence of the elements. And that solitude both intrigues and terrifies, which precedes and outlasts the fleeting existence of people.
One can feel the echo of the mystery, the grandeur – and a certain nostalgia – of the childhood of humanity.
Through its own traces humanity shines, with a sad and fleeting brilliance: soon they will be swept away by the ebb and flow of the tides. Radiant vestiges of nature that, after the ephemeral and dislocated pause, will return to their inescapable eternity in full communion.
Finally we remember the secretive language of the world. Finally the abandonment of the earliest times is absent.
1The title of this text refers to the expression used by Bruno Montpied, “The inspired from the roadside” to refer to the common women and men who in a self-taught way develop their creative impulses, and whose expressions have been catalogued by mainstream critics as “art brut”, “marginal” or “naive” art.
2The surprise and the seduction before the encounter of such so-called constructions that mark out the coast of Ilha Barreta, also known as Deserta, belonging to the Portuguese town of Faro in the Algarve region, led to this photographic documentation during two consecutive summers. Of varying complexity, and although most of them are small and simple, they were made by people who enjoy going to the beach, and are assembled from the different materials offered by the environment such as shells, seaweed, stones, pieces of wood, reeds or fragments of scrub, but also from the not so natural ones that the tide deposited in the sand. Isla Deserta forms part of a system of barrier islands that define the coastal lagoon known as Ría de Formosa and protect it from the sea. The nickname “desert” is derived from the fact that the island is devoid of houses or buildings, as is the case with others in the estuary, except for a jetty and a small lighthouse. The beach infrastructures are also scarce. It is also the most remote island from the dock of the town of Faro, which explains why it doesn't receive any excessive amount of visitors. These objective considerations, together with the fact that a half hour boat journey is required to get there, combine to increase the subjective sensation of the mystery and solitude of the place. Despite what has been noted, we are very much aware that the place can’t avoid being part of the system of tourist escapism.
3Confirmed by the fact that not only were many constructions devised by the group, but furthermore that they were taken over by other people who transformed them according to new desires.