The name Alicia Kopf burst onto the cultural scene with the publication, in 2016, of the novel “Brother in Ice”. Two of the peculiarities which immediately made this book stand out were its eschewal of a conventional narrative structure and the inclusion of other elements besides the text the author created for its plot. On its pages, photographs, drawings, diagrams and maps coexist with WhatsApp messages, excerpts of scientific articles and information taken from the Internet, revealing a creative process where investigations of various kinds gather documents whose contents nurture reflections, reflections that generate meanings and meanings that generate artworks.
In addition to books, Alicia Kopf ’s investigations frequently result in the production of other objects – drawings, photographs, videos – which function as offshoots of the same impulse that leads her to writing. They are things that form part of the same stories, but which Kopf knows cannot be read – only seen, felt, experienced. Once arranged in a space, these objects spin webs of sensory relationships that we have grown accustomed to calling exhibitions. This voluntary transit between disciplines makes Alicia Kopf not only a writer, nor just a visual artist, but someone who navigates fluidly and pragmatically between mediums, techniques and technologies, according to the needs of the project at hand.
To a certain extent, Kopf ’s stance is diametrically opposed to the paradigm of the modern artist. What interests her is not necessarily exploring the specificity of the mediums she uses. It is using them to investigate the nature of human impulses, relationships and behaviors; to go beyond the appearance of phenomena, beyond the surface of actions, in search of the unfathomable that might be hidden there.
Somehow, it seems all her efforts converge in the construction of a sort of experimental ontology of affects – something which would explain the recurrence of notions such as conquest, drive, desire and discovery in her work. If this was clear in Articantartic – the project which gave rise to Brother in Ice and which took the history of polar expeditions as a metaphor for this exploratory impulse – in Speculative Intimacy, this affiliation is perhaps more subtle, but no less influential.
Starting with the laws of attraction of celestial bodies and their possible analogy in the field of human relationships, this project provides a diagnosis of the new forms of intimacy in the era of digital technologies and artificial intelligence. More specifically, the pieces brought together in this exhibition construct a dual movement between them. On the one hand, they search the most recent developments of cosmology and quantum physics for glimpses of a definitive law concerning the behavior of bodies: a law so comprehensive that it would explain the mechanics of what propels us towards an Other, which would at last reveal the nature of that peculiar energy we call love. On the other hand, these works bring us face to face with the virtualisation that new technologies promise to impose on the forms and experiences of this same love: the phone screen as the sensual stronghold for interpersonal contacts, the illusion of pleasure at the click of a button, the paradoxical isolation of ultra-connectivity, seduction transcribed in the form of an algorithm.
In the exhibition she is presenting at Culturgest Porto, the artist premiers a film specifically conceived for this occasion and with which the Speculative Intimacy cycle comes to a close. Entitled Historia de mis ojos, [Story of My Eyes] the film establishes a set of relationships between the human eye, the behavior of the celestial bodies and scientific developments in the field of optics. Through them, the artist unravels a narrative that oscillates between two drives pulling in opposite directions: the drive to look outside, towards the cosmos, towards what is absolutely foreign to us, and the drive to look inward, to the inside of the body, to consider its ability to reproduce itself and to originate what should be absolutely familiar to us but that just may be, after all, another way of confronting the unknown.
STORY OF MY EYES
António Sequeira Lopes
CBS – Creative Building Solutions,
Eng. Nuno Abreu