Talhão, 2019

(São Miguel island, Azores)

The ancestral tradition of carrying and collecting water as been present globally.

Talhão is the name of a tradition vessel made in Azores islands for saving rain water. This object, which had as its essential function to be the water reservoir of the house, was much appreciated and used in domestic work.

Since the earliest times of the Azorean settlement, clay has been an important raw material for the production of various utensils related to domestic activity. The ceramic industrial movement had a great increase in Portugal around the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but just only twenty years ago women were allowed to enter a pottery workshop. This place was exclusive for men, although most of the pieces produced were mainly used by women in the domestic sphere. 

The performance shows two women building a traditional vessel - talhão, around a female body. This performance was made on a pottery workshop turned into a Museum, open to women only twenty years ago. 

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The work of Rita GT articulates a route between two important points of the city, connected through a performance that begins at Paços do Concelho and ends at Museu Carlos Machado - Convento de Santo André. The artist reinterprets the traditional format of a procession, reflecting on its functioning, actors and organization, and extolling the feminine condition, rethinking the patriarchal structure that underlies this type of religious and popular manifestations. In this case, a group of women belonging to a fictional sisterhood carry a set of clay vases and carvings, taking them through the city to be deposited in a museum space, where they remain as a temporary installation. The material (clay) and the shape (receptacle - vessel/carving) with which these objects are worked establish a direct relationship between what is transported and the body of the person who carries it. The idea of receptacle assumes a form and a function that binds to the feminine condition, celebrating the element which contains and holds what is precious; or in the invocation of a historical perspective, where these objects preserved the home sustenance, or in the invocation of the woman's body, which assumes

the possibility of containing a new life in itself. Thus, in the symbolic dimension that the procession holds, the role of power is rescued into another matriarchal sphere, which generates life and subsistence. The performance involves several participants from the local community and develops a choreography that is accompanied with sound, containing choir and percussion, and by a visual record, that includes a new identity, translated in the ensign and on the clothing that is used. The work also involves the presentation of a video at Carlos Machado Museum, that documents the action taken in the construction of objects, in the pottery workshop, and its activation, in procession, through the streets of the city. The performance ends in a ceremony of deposition of the vessels/baskets and other elements that, on their interaction with the video, define the contours of an installation. The installation follows the performance and the project is thought under multiple fronts, questioning the format of the artwork and the place of its presentation. Between the event and the object, between the city and the exhibition space.

Sergio Fazenda Rodrigues 2019

 © RitaGT

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