Particularly interested in the philosophy of language and the mechanisms of perception and communication, Luisa Cunha develops work in drawing, video, photography, objects, interventions and performance, and especially in the form of texts and sound sculptures, creating proposals that break down the boundaries between public and private, and that take on the intimate tone of the voice that enunciate them, often that of the artist herself.
Words for Gardens (2006/2007) by Luisa CunhaOriginal Source: Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto
Words for Gardens, 2006-2007
Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto, inv. FS 1530
Hello! (1994) by Luisa CunhaCalouste Gulbenkian Museum
Installation with mirrors, loudspeakers, recorded voice dictating text, 22'' (loop)
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Centro de Arte Moderna, inv. 10E1630
The devices of her works are minimalist and contained, and their discretion allows viewers to focus all their attention on the details of the written text or spoken word, filling the space with mental images and creating environmental sculptures. As simple as they are brazenly out of the ordinary, her messages challenge the listener in the form of whispers, murmurs and secrets.
Expressions like "É aqui!" [It's here!], "Shh", "Luisa", "Não, não é ele" [No, it's not him] or "Senhora! Toda a gente sabe!" [Madam! Everybody knows!] surprise viewers during the exhibition, while others such as "Turn around" or "Os visitantes que vêm a esta exposição são gentilmente convidados a permanecerem numa posição erguida e a manterem-se em silêncio" [The visitors who come to this exhibition are kindly asked to stay in an upright position and remain silent] comment on and induce public behaviour and subvert institutional protocol.
Repeated in a loop, these expressions lose their initial emotional charge and sense, and open to the imagination and meaning of the listener.
Madam! (2010) by Luisa CunhaCalouste Gulbenkian Museum
Loudspeaker system (black wood covered with red fabric), sound (recorded voice dictating text), 22'' (loop)
14,7 x 24,3 x 13,3 cm
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Centro de Arte Moderna, inv. 13E174
BC (1998) by Luisa CunhaOriginal Source: Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Elvas – Collection António Cachola
Sound, recorded voice, 20'' (loop)
Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Elvas – Collection António Cachola
Learn more about the artist:
Luisa Cunha – Website
Luisa Cunha | Galeria Miguel Nabino (in English)
Exposição «Ongoing Landscapes», Luisa Cunha | Galeria Miguel Nabinho (in Portuguese)
«O que dizem os artistas: Luisa Cunha» (in Portuguese)
«O Material Não Aguenta: Júlio Pomar e Luisa Cunha» (in Portuguese)
Selection of works presented at the exhibition All I want: Portuguese women artists from 1900 to 2020, in its first moment at Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, within the scope of the cultural program that takes place in parallel to the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021.
Exhibition organized by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture, Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC) and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in co-production with the Center of Contemporary Creation Olivier Debré, Tours, and with the collaboration of the Plano Nacional das Artes (Portugal).
Helena de Freitas and Bruno Marchand
Text by Lígia Afonso / Plano Nacional das Artes
Selection of online resources Maria de Brito Matias
Learn more about Luisa Cunha's works presented in the context of this exhibition:
All I want: Starting Point
All I want: The Word