(Catalogue) Centro Cultural Vila Flor/ Escola Superior Artística do Porto      DATE: January 2009 

Over the last years art has undergone significant alterations related to the market and to the idea of value, which
has made us reflect on its current function. Not that art has not presented several curious developments
throughout history, which have become apparent at the time of the appearance of artistic currents, and in other
movements and tendencies adopted in the most different areas of knowledge. These manifestations were all
ephemeral, and efficiently served the aesthetic orientations, the fundaments and manifestos behind the works,
the critics’ opinions, the buyers’ options and the general environment of what was projected outwards. However,
underlying all these circumstantial elements that have skilfully refined what we today understand as the past,
and which have established margins and delimited styles, there has always been a subjective dimension intrinsic
to art, a charge that has to do with emotions and affections, so often determining in the notion of value, but,
contrary to the mutating and unstable dimension of that which has structured societies and taste, has been able
to persist in a subliminal and continuous manner.

One day, like the individual who believed that nothing that exists is so big that it cannot be measured
(Archimedes), someone invented the Formula of Profit, to synthesise a reasoning capable of incorporating the
calculation of value on all things, in a simple rule, resumed to a mathematical equation. The invention of the
formula MV/C+V - which synthesises the relationship of the total added-value with the sum of the constant
capital and of the variable capital - reinforced the hope that one could await the most sought-after changes in a
society marked by social and economic disintegration, in which any idea of transformation was embraced within
a redeeming viewpoint. This concept was deepened further by the Marxists, involving a major theoretical work
on the functioning of Capitalism. What they did not foresee, in keeping with so many clever and preponderant
men who challenged and rewrote the most significant parts of what we have learned to identify as collective
memory, is that the more one tries to discover an idea capable of containing a solution that is sufficiently all-
embracing for a determined problem, the more its content is specialised and redefined into particularities.

There was a time when mathematical formulae took us over like paternalistic entities; religion and science
confronted each other in their task of reiterating a trust in the dominion of nature and of time, reinventing
solutions, until societies discovered the degree of illusion in which they found themselves, enmeshed among so
many wrong turnings and deceiving reasonings, and replaced them by others. Despite all the problems of profit
and all the formulae that ever claimed the possibility of turning something into something measurable, a
permanent media action was granting a certain currentness to its substance.

In the specific case of the Formula of Profit, nowadays one realises that it makes no sense: if MV/C+V were not a
rate of profit on capital, but a rate of profit on the number of business deals carried out. Just as the object of
study disturbs scientific experiment, the results obtained and their later condensation into a mathematical
equation, in ignoring the reality from which the object comes, reveal that all thought is independent of the
context that it describes, and that no sequence of events and answers manages to escape from a deconstruction
through the method. Curiously, and despite a short time after having been found becoming obsolete, easily
decomposed and understood by specialists as a childish method of analysis and solution, its discovery caused
enormous impact on all those who lived beneath the powerful force of capitalism. Its spectre managed to survive,
redefined in a fetish singularity in the context of a mass communication that insists in overvaluing all the possible
accesses to knowledge through a set of tasks of systematic uniformisation The changes introduced by progress
seem to have accelerated its decomposition, without ever corrupting an exemplary and very human interest as to
the way we perceive the world and the most varied productive activities that we have been carrying out in it.

The damage resulting from this form of equating that which surrounded us for so long, summing up and
including decades and decades of transactions and movements of capital in such a simple account is extensive
and perverts alienation towards the error. It is known that no one solves anything anymore through the stating of
formulae, although the search for a final norm, the ultimate of all formulae, might still manage to bring us a
soothing feeling. In a market context that is increasingly open to the public in general, art cannot remain
separated from this inclination that grants a hierarchy to all the objects of desire, more than through the
fulfilling and satisfaction of the beautiful, through the fundaments of some theory capable of providing a
definitive and correlative calculation about its real value and about the future value of artists’ works.

If formulae were in fact a solution, the art market could already have solved all the problems of the calculation of
the value of the artistic object, starting from the principle that there is a natural propensity for balances to be
established between supply and demand. With this fact being the case, many of the parallel situations that
actively contributed towards the redefining of a price over time, and which were always based on strategic
diversions into much more mundane terrains of ostentation, expurgated from the rigorous tasks of calculation
that gave rise to all the scientific models, would never have happened. This superficial dimension of the work of
art as a source of speculation and advantage has increasingly stood out in the visible part that involves and
determines it as a space of global communication, using all kinds of opinion expedients and devices in order to
cover over the emptiness and cultural poverty in which we exist. Art is dependent upon certification by the critic
in order to set itself up in the market; it is at the mercy of the narrating of arguments that unite formulae to
theoretical dissent, in a strange profusion of social words and acts that include, in the pith of their own darkness,
systematic and permanently failed attempts at elucidation of the world.

Today we restrict ourselves to recognizing that all the formulae of the present will be questioned and altered in
the future, and that every year new possibilities of interpretation of the same subject appear as science moves in
closed contexts of comprehension, seeking out strategic ways for us to get out of the vicious circle of the market
and of the crisis of values in which we find ourselves.

In choosing a formula for the title of this exhibition, we intend to react on the small portion of space determined
by the freedom for us to move away from this medium. The centre of art may be stated as an epicentre of
creativity of the being. The feeling of enclosure in the schemes of functioning of a system that is sells itself and
publicises itself makes our history be shown through a major general history in which there is no reference to all
the great silent processes of freedom that are born out of lack of determination on the psychic part of each one of
them and in the lack of determination that belongs to each conscious individual.

This exhibition celebrates the ruin of a formula - MV/C+V. The present situation of the art market reveals the
more aggressive facet of going against everything that is presented as the creation of spaces that generate
imagination. In the validity of the processes of choice throughout the history of man, there is a strange confusion
between the act of buying and that of being able to acquire freely. We are left with the contingency of all
formulae and the certainty of their destruction, so that we may be able to rebuild from nothing among the
minimum ruined spaces of autonomy.

                                MV/C+V =

This exhibition intends to show a group of twelve artists, which lives a particular reality that may be projected
onto many different dimensions, ranging from a framework of a more geographical nature to the language or
form of expression that refers to an idea of global identity.

MV/C+V or the Formula of Profit is a possible approach, among many others, to the condition and work of these
artists, and its choice as an agglutinating image for this project has to do with pressing and current issues in the
context of the arts. An idea of profit that has evolved towards patterns that are increasingly abstract and
subjectivised can only be counterpoised by an abundance of proposals capable of seeing it ironically.

It would be far too obvious to state that nowadays art is subject to processes of speculation and investment, in
acts that structure presuppositions little or in no manner related to the values intrinsic to artistic practices. In
making a choice of young artists we see how it is difficult in terms of economic value to establish any kind of
threshold or hierarchy, as they all are in a situation of equality in relation to the future. Thus, we have managed
to deflect any type of problem in relation to selection criteria, given that the material values to take into account
are manifestly intangible.

The most interesting aspect in this exhibition is the fact that the artists are willing to show their work, to have a
will to produce, to risk entering a system that is so often regulated by conveniences and according to highly
debatable patterns in the arguments and justifications it states.

It is obvious that when one observes the list of invited artists one may state that this is a selection with clear links
to Guimarães. This choice is justified, primarily because there is a sufficient number of artists active in the city to
permit a careful choice; secondly, because for several years now there has been the development in Guimarães of
an important work in the field of training and divulging contemporary art, which it would be inadmissible to
ignore. So this exhibition intends to commemorate all the work carried out up to now by the Oporto Higher
Artistic School - Guimarães, by the galleries and by the independent groups of artists.

This project, in accepting its status as a close collaboration between the Vila Flor Cultural Centre (CCVF) and the
Oporto Higher Artistic School - Guimarães, has shared the joint responsibility of conceiving and carrying out an
exhibition and a document that illustrates the potentialities of the city and of this nucleus of artists in particular,
formalised in the elaboration of a careful and sufficiently informative document about the works previously
produced by each one, capable of carrying out a comprehensive synthesis of the different curricula through
photographic and textual registers, with the aim of completing the exhibition part of the project as much as

The CCVF wishes to continue to periodically venture onto this kind of strategy of action in a natural and
spontaneous manner, taking into consideration the several different local sensitivities in order to make
Guimarães a reference on the contemporary art circuit in Portugal and to be able to grant the artists the
opportunity to see their works published.


We will always be between other things, each of us a child of his
time, a man who speaks this language and not another, who has this
past history and not another. But, in relation to these facts, an
autonomous individual is capable of taking on a certain distance. Let
us see for example Socrates and the Athenian who simply follows the
ideas of the mass: they have the same language and the same
experience at the same time, but Socrates is something more, not
just a simply Athenian from the mass. Today there are also
individuals who are capable of assuming a difference in relation to
their own inheritance - this is autonomy. It is subjecting what we
receive to a lucid exam, to a thorough exam, and saying: I’ll keep
this, not this.

- And would freedom be in that choice?

Yes, and it is an exam that can never be total, we can never modify
everything we think, and we can’t modify it all in one go. It is a
perpetual work, and that work is what defines autonomy for me.

Cornelius Castoriadis
A Drifting Society in Interviews and Debates, 1974-1997