AUTHOR: IVO MARTINS
EDITION: (Catalogue) Centro Cultural Vila Flor DATE: September 2009
Adelina Lopes constructs her pieces by associating common objects with materials scattered through our
everyday lives. Through this image creation process, the artist establishes a broad dialogue with the viewers of
her work. By producing an imitation of water from an acrylic plaque placed besides a tipped over glass, or by
using a mirror to reconstruct a previously sectioned stone, Adelina Lopes produces a set of perceptive relations
born of the interaction between the materials used, thus creating added symbolic connections over the invented
situations. As a process of illusion, this approach to materials and shape leads the viewer to successive acts of
optical recreation, making them part of a continuous game of meaning.
Each of her works establishes moments of surprise between the observer and the objects, broadening the scope of
possible analyses of the connections evidenced by each situation. As each of her three-dimensional works can be
subjected to several readings, we are invited to be an active part in the creative process of their construction. The
pieces exposed only come full circle and acquire sense and direction once the observer finds the relational key
defined by the associations and arrangement of the materials and objects. When this happens, a door is open, a
gateway to multiple denotative solutions which coexist in each piece.
The works we are presenting here are the guardians of a secret of sorts, one that is revealed only to the careful
observer, placing the viwer in extraordinary situations of confrontation, which are resolved only through a
learning process anchored in each of our individual everyday existences. These works call for an invocation of
lived experiences on the part of the viewer. This hiding process feeds on the subtle transformations and
modulations that, through the repetition of the glances and gestures we direct at the objects, infiltrate the way we
see and perceive them.
In the works Sem Título (dois vidros partidos) [Untitled (two broken glasses)], 2005, Sem Título (dois espelhos
partidos) [Untitled (two broken mirrors)] and Sem Título (dois pratos partidos) [Untitled (two broken plates)],
2009, the artist’s intervention transforms and crystallizes a free, accidental and undetermined moment in a
rational and carefully planned event. With coldly technological precision, the repetition of this accidental,
random moment of fragmentation of materials and plates is taken to the limit, doubling the same division of the
composing elements of each piece. The copies of broken acrylic plaques (glasses), mirrors and plates, presented
side by side, stimulate processes of comparison and attention, transmitting an ironic view on current mass
production models. Aesthetic situations related to such incidents of destruction are recurrent in the work of
Adelina Lopes. Deconstruction and cut are executed in a premeditated and restrained manner, and what appears
to be an object destroyed by accidental division is rather an instant controlled by the artist. This moment of
duplication of the accident refers us to a notion of domination where it is understood that the author of such a
destructive act is fully in control of a moment associated to chance. Through this idea, the artist expresses a
concept of alternation from a state of unconscious effort to one of conscious intent. It is also important to
mention the processes of object reconstitution stemming from the artist’s research on mirrors, in what can be
understood as an allegory to the omnipresence of falsification and imitation systems in contemporary image
production. The degrees of codification of reality face us with relevant questions regarding what is true or false,
the separation of which is ever harder to understand.
In Um Copo [A Glass], 2006, and Sem Título [Untitled], 2009, objects reconstructed through an optical illusion
acquire a coherent, usable image, immediately making them liable to be used and manipulated. As they recover
their original shape after having had their physicality changed, they now contain a new degree of veracity
provided by the reconstruction process, and they recover also their verisimilitude. The work of Adelina Lopes is
essentially a complex, varied and ambivalent process of montage. The destruction and/or cuts performed on
mirrors, acrylic plaques (glass), plates and stones are finished constructs that express a refusal of the
utilitarianism of the original shapes, giving them, at one fell swoop, a new utility and aesthetic function they
wish to fulfil, revealing to us the several different levels of authenticity coexisting in them.
We find a striking quest for simplicity and economy of means in the work of Adelina Lopes, in her choice of
materials and the uses given to them. Within this context, these elements acquire surprising levels of autonomy
and identity. These are, after all, common materials such as acrylic plaques, mirrors, glass, stones, water and a
few sculptural pieces representing letters. By analysing the different processes of conjugation and association
invoked by her work, we understand how the elements of each piece are transformed into simple means of
execution. Through the process of montage the artist uses in different supports (photography and three-
dimensional objects), each work overflows its boundaries, conquering new horizons and expanding its meanings,
no longer confined. The exhibition is both a territory and a device for the dialogue struck between the viewer and
the pieces, amplifying the meanings initially inscribed into the latter. Photographs are an integral part of the
montages that originate them, conferring them a visual memory. The process whereby the viewer, the title and
the organization of the exhibited elements interact completes the work. We should not assume that the result of
this activity is a process of evaluation, in that the viewer is confronted with a totality of surrounding, penetrating
and overflowing meanings. In this sense, the exhibition subjects the viewer and transforms them into an agent,
identifying and taking advantage of their individuality.
Shape is a key element in the work of Adelina Lopes. If sometimes it is defined by the object that contains or
contained it - water in a glass, in a bottle or even a glass-shaped block of ice - at other times its plastic
development is structured in reverse, from the object that contains it, as is the case with Copo Vazio [Empty
Glass], 2003 and Imagem Cheia [Full Picture], 2008. In the latter, the limits of the photography mould its
content and insinuate a shape that is not represented.
In Variações para um Copo [Variations on a Glass], 2004, we detect once again the ambivalence produced by the
many possible readings over the photographed pictures, depending on our gaze’s starting point. We can imagine
that the object started its aesthetic cycle in one movement: the original glass is destroyed and then reassembled.
While it does not maintain its original shape intact, it is present in every picture: the transformations this object
underwent are present in each moment captured in the photographs, and the movement of our own gaze
accompanies it through these changes, providing a constant but strange sense of narrative coherence.
Understanding of the content of the photographs occurs whence we imagine a shifting of the picture from the
intact to the broken glass. This exercise in holistic understanding enriches the piece and allows us to engage
creatively with it. The succession of events is organized by our own experience, deriving a logical continuity,
organizing these moments in a chronological sequence spanning from the intact to the broken glass, driven by
the rational side of our understanding and perception.
This same process of rationalizing by experience when faced with comparable images observed simultaneously
happens again when we are confronted with the two broken acrylic plaques (glass) laid side by side, with the two
broken mirrors on the floor and with the fragmented plates placed on the wall. The question that arises when we
observe these pieces is: which of these elements was broken first? The answer to this question would lead us to a
result framed with the sequential and logic perspective we perceive as most natural. There is however a type of
ambivalence present in the works of Adelina Lopes other than that which arises from the questioning regarding
the chronological sequence of the movement, one concerning the sense of rupture stemming from the
irreversibility of the notion of accident, one which the repetition, arrangement and dimension of the fragments
imparts us. The starting point for these pieces is a process of subtraction of undetermined factors, a numbing of
the accident, and they are presented as a means of planned objectification of the undetermined, and are,
In these pieces, the idea of repetition of the original accident suggests an absolute control over all variables in
play at the moment of the objects’ destruction. Only such a power would allow for the obtaining of the two sets
without resort to some sort of trick. The objects are not distinguishable; they are united by an absolute similarity.
They have no differences which, should they exist, would eliminate the possibility of a univocal determination at
the moment of fracture; they are separated by a bizarre similitude, which is aesthetically changed in its repeated
The work of Adelina Lopes must be permanently interpreted. This compulsion gives rise to moments of cognitive
tension, which lead to processes of suspension and rupture, challenging both previously acquired knowledge and
individual systems of understanding that we all assimilate unconsciously. When a routine is unexpectedly
broken, we are forced to create interpretative compensation mechanisms, which have us searching for new
energies, solutions that amplify our power of concentration, solving questions given rise to by the singular
arrangement of the objects presented. It is by using this energy that we try to improve our grasp of what
surrounds us and, step by step, consolidates our understanding of the world. Banality is dulling; we need an
element of the bizarre, of surprise, a regular meeting with the unexpected, to truly appreciate things.
Concepts of copy and series are both a theme and a formal device in the construction of these pieces.
Reproduction places us before some of the fundamental questions in Art, especially those related to the
proliferation of technical representations of images and artistic objects. Within this context, we are alerted to the
issue of the commercialisation of works of art, in a movable frame of criteria where the borders between art and
design are ever more blurred.
In Copos de Vidro [Glass Cups], 2006, we see several shapes of cups over glass plaques, suggesting a mass-
produced series. Through the montage of the plaques, the artist explores the idea of mutually influenced images:
the transparency of the material allows the viewer to juxtapose the printed images. The viewer is forced into a
process of reading and assimilation, identifying and individualizing each of the printed glasses, so that some
orientation can be found in the amalgam formed by the accumulation of images on the glass transparency.
Looking at the glasses in their meaningless repetition, on several glass plaques arranged seemingly at random
stimulates simplifying choice mechanisms similar to those of the consumer society and its processes of cognitive
facilitation. These processes lead us to dangerous levels of self-indulgence, making our choices shallow and
Repetition as a creative process can be seen as an allegory for the strategy of segmenting consumerism.
Repetition, standardization, specialization and the continuous production increase are some of the elements that
characterize contemporary markets. This growth based on consumerism needs an ever-growing number of
objects meant to broaden the array of choice available to consumers, promoting the multiplication of series and
of products with a successively shorter shelf life. Fashion, for example, aimed at very specific market niches,
proposes a growing variety of products, diversifying consumer choice and assuring the mass customisation of
populations. In this very specific context, we no longer produce in order to sell, but rather we sell in order to
produce. The consumer is, in a way, leading the way for the producer.
Commonly used objects, such as a series of glasses of different shapes and sizes, bundled in a set of small glass
plaques, are now magically imbued of human meaning and qualify for display in a personal museum of sorts,
where the buyer’s desire to possess the object makes them add continuously to the collection. Their purpose is
mere accumulation, and, thus framed, their objects acquire an intrinsic value, masking the primary compulsion
that originates their acquisition and purging their anguish and insecurities. The consumer cannot let these
fetishes go, these objects upon which so much of themselves is invested.
The degradation of the quality of the objects produced, their shortcomings in terms of style, the functional
mediocrity of mass-produced products and the creation of standardized and dull products that offer only a
limited range of stimuli is to be lamented. We can be excused for thinking the work of Adelina Lopes proposes an
implicit critique of the kind of consumerism described by Debord and Goffman, where the forsaking of objects is
not seen as a loss but rather as a mere process conductive to the search for new stimuli. Standardised goods,
made banal by the repetition of their image, are easily discarded.
Plates, glasses, symbols and stones cut in half and then reassembled by means of a game of mirrors and words
repeatedly introduce us to the idea of halves and lead us into a virtual atmosphere of a game where we play with
In the pieces Pedras Simétricas [Symmetric Stones], 2009, Um Copo [A Glass], 2006, Sem Título [Untitled],
2009, and Uma Pedra [One Stone], Duas Pedras [Two Stones] and Três Pedras [Three Stones], 2006, a cut
renders the objects useless and the stones lose their natural shape to fulfil the functions we attribute them. The
halves or parts of the objects that have been cut no longer possess their original organic unity, moving on to a
level of practical uselessness. The artistic treatment applied restores them to an aesthetic function where the
unfathomable distance between an artistic product and any other class of object is self-evident. Here, the
creative gesture is a cut that creates a space of strangeness, a gap between sign and signifier. The title serves as
the sign that establishes a narrative justifying the creation of a new reality, while reminiscent of the space it
occupied before the artist’s intervention. We see this clearly in the dysfunction between the piece’s signification
and the reality of the title. This disturbance cannot be resolved but through an effort of rationalization on the
part of the observer: the object lives now, after its destruction, in a new reality. This process leads the viewer to a
dialogue whereupon the object is subjected to a permanent restructuring of its meaning, and provides them with
an interpretative logic that is multiple in character and necessary to satisfy their want for understanding.
The creative process implied in this practice can be condensed into the image of a glass or of a cut stone. The
cut’s section is made to make these objects incoherent, their use or figuration as a natural object no longer
possible. A title that describes the artist’s approach to the object, disregarding the effects of such a
transformation (Meio Copo [Half Glass] or Pedras Simétricas [Symmetric Stones]), creates a sense of rupture
between the piece’s figuration and the explanation suggested by its title, which describes the executed
intervention evenly. This process, simple in its essence, aims only to accentuate the difficulties faced when
describing these images with the written word. While these are very direct, objective mechanisms, as are those
used in the explanations of the figures, objects and interventions of Adelina Lopes, her works contain nonetheless
countless possible meanings resulting from the confrontation between two very different fields of
communication: images and words. The interaction between images or objects with their respective titles creates
points of discord between assimilated reality and the action suggested by the subtitles.
Pedras Simétricas [Symmetric Stones], 2009, is a work of synthesis where the artist perfects some of the
processes previously applied to earlier montages. By cutting in half a set of stones of different sizes and colours
and placing them on a table, the top of which is a mirror, the artist gives back to these sectioned stones an image
of coherence. The missing half is replaced by the symmetric repetition of the object, created by its own reflected
image in the mirror. The moment represented here expresses a new paradigm in the body of work of Adelina
Lopes and corresponds to a process of integration of several procedures used separately on other pieces,
broadening the aesthetic and formal limits of the conducted interventions. A reflected image applied as a
reconstruction mechanism for the stones becomes an object-changing strategy, with no loss to its original
identity. Thus, the objects are transposed to a new spatial dimension. The surface opened by the reflection in the
mirror, acting upon the stones as an integrating space, creates an effect of suspension. We are led to imagine that
the elements in this piece are subjected to a kind of extraordinary force that keeps the whole set of energies in
play. The tabletop becomes a sidereal space where the stones have no gravity and gain a new plastic dimension
resulting from the formal and aesthetic structure developed by the work. The involvement of the viewer is aided
by their familiarity with the object, since the montage is laid out on a table. These aspects make for a structuring
and integrating result and amplify the connections between meanings explored in earlier moments.
Uma Pedra [One Stone], Duas Pedras [Two Stones] and Três Pedras [Three Stones], 2006, are works that stem
from a simple exercise of correlation between the images and their title. This triptych depicts the same stone:
intact in the first photograph; sectioned in two halves in the second; divided in three sections (one half and two
quarters) in the third and last moment. By choosing for this set of pieces a sequence of titles that establishes a
connection with a number and simply counts each of the parts of the sectioned stone, the artist voids other
meanings. The original stone, successively divided, is far from its original state but still stone, and the only formal
change is a coy move from the singular to the plural. While these stones have been subjected to an aggression that
resulted in their fracture, they show no signs of violence on their surface. Seeing the sectioned elements of this
stone, where no trace of human intervention is noticeable, we are tempted to assume this is a natural state and
create subjective notions to accept the title chosen for this piece. This process is a stimulating exercise on the
problem of language as a mechanism of interpretation of reality. It displays the errors and skewing of meaning
distorting and deforming reality in processes similar to those that make it possible for the stone to keep its
objective identity even after it is subjected to the transformational action that amputates half of its original
In Copo de Água [Glass of Water], 2005, a similar mismatch of meaning is felt when we are faced with the frozen
contents of a glass. The object itself no longer exists, but its presence is suggested both by the shape of the ice
depicted and by the piece’s title. The same occurs with Um Copo de Água [One Glass of Water], 2005, depicting a
bottle with a certain amount of water in it. We must decode this image by a process of interaction between what
we observe and the title we read. We then understand that the amount of liquid inside the bottle equals the
volume of one glass - one glass of water. In this type of work we perceive the game of interpretation and words
that is so characteristic of a relevant part of the body of work of Adelina Lopes.
Ponto de Partida [Starting Point], 2005, is a photograph depicting a black suitcase on a white background. Just
by looking at it we feel the absence of any element that could give us an indication of scale or location. The
process chosen here intends to amplify the symbolic effect of the object depicted and establish an idea of
beginning, the starting point of a journey without destination. Framed within an intense whiteness, the suitcase
is shown as a very clear, suspended object. It relates to notions of movement and travel and in this work is the
only reference point from whence we can start our own process of understanding. Approaching this odd image
lost in the white space that surrounds it is best done in successive moments of observation. We start by seeing a
black dot over the whiteness of the picture and find, as we approach it, another shape that gradually develops a
symbolic body and weight inversely proportional to our proximity. We’re walking towards a sign, which, as the
distance decreases, becomes the image of a suitcase.
Ponto de Partida [Starting Point], 2005, is representative of a way of understanding art, reminiscent of Oscar
Wilde’s preface toThe Picture of Dorian Gray. The author states, “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those
who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.” In this sense, each discovery is the sole responsibility of the
individual, and this may lead to resounding failures in our ability to go beyond the merely observable; they are a
consequence of the fact that a work is richer if capable of inciting different interpretations and arouse a desire for
There is a clear connection between Ponto de Partida [Starting Point] and Sem Título [Untitled], 2006, a
sculpture of a suitcase, made of iron and concrete. Although a perfect replica, the type of material used renders
the object useless, setting it far from its original function. Shape and texture are conjugated to seduce the viewer
who, coming closer, will feel inclined to pick up the object - a gesture so often repeated - only to find that its
weight makes it immovable. The suitcase is clearly associated with the notion of mobility and the frustrated
attempt to pick it up results in a feeling of incapacity. This impossibility can be compensated by analysing the
object, opening new fields of aesthetic understanding to the observer, made easier and suggested by the general
context of the exhibition. Thus, the orientation field provided by the exhibited works and the quality of the
location where it now exists grant it new functional foundations. A displacement towards an aesthetic notion
occurs, one that is radically different to the one we had at first glance, when all there was to be seen was a
This strangeness transports the figurative suitcase to the realm of subjectivity. As we identify the situation as
something outside our everyday experiences, both by the space that frames it and its old-fashioned design, we are
led to perceive the object in a different way, setting it definitely apart from the where our first impressions had
placed it. From this point on, we have all we need to begin a process of understanding and approximation to the
work from this new perspective, made possible by the artist’s creative arbitration. The use of materials in their
natural state, such as water and stones, and the minimal use of colour, where white, black and shades of grey are
dominant, denotes a will to simplify and bare all. The patent economy of means reveals a desire to remove the
author from the communication process implicit in each piece and follows a strategy of subtracting any
chromatic elements and formal structures that might create a background noise to the original intent. These
elements and structures would lessen the impact of the work on the viewer and render any connection to the work
This strategy of restraint intends to promote a closer and more direct link, a filtered connection if you will,
between the pieces and the viewers, allowing for the development of dynamic dialogues that continuously
broaden the limits of the viewer’s understanding in their search for new meanings and interpretations. This effort
defies the totalitarian logic underlined by the vast majority of consume relations, fighting the unidirectional
sense of communication in market-driven societies. This resistance is akin to the refusal of the notion that people
no longer need to speak to each other, and is set in clear opposition of a model of communication in which people
live numb and isolated in a world of words without answers.
Water is a profusely developed plastic element in the body of work of Adelina Lopes. Even when playful processes
of integration into images and the written word are not representing it, this element is always present, even if
indirectly, by referencing accessories associated with it. By evoking a set of symbolic connections, this process of
cognitive induction is a constant reminder of its presence. Pieces structured around opposite concepts such as full
and empty or half and middle, which are never explicitly present, compel us to use the same mechanism of
In some of the montages of Adelina Lopes, books appear as supportive elements of creation. It’s a foreign object,
an anti-product conceived as an anachronism and framed by a global system of commerce characterized by an
intensive production of publications donning the outer signs and status of consumer goods.
In Sem Título (Um ano / Um mês) [Untitled (One year / One month)], 2003, 1087 prints are assembled in two
volumes. This piece establishes a confrontation between two books/ objects that have been stripped down of all
the characteristics needed to their identification as consumer goods. These objects still have an individual
identity, although the information contained in them has been reduced to a minimum.
In the book titled One Year, the artist divided this time frame in days and gave to each printed page a number
corresponding to a day, creating a book with three hundred and sixty-five pages. In One Month, time is divided
into hours and each page represents one of these units. The ensuing result is two books differentiated by their
respective number of pages. These two pieces are intended to strike a process of comparison between them and
incite a confrontation based on proximity and dissimilitude. The fact that the piece corresponding to the shorter
time span is more voluminous perplexes the viewer by thwarting their expectations. This game of sorts generates
a process of logical dysfunction that forces our reasoning to integrate new ideas, in an effort to restructure our
ability to understand both objects. Once again, the titles of the pieces are contradictory with their shape, creating
a moment of weirdness forcing the viewer to find a solution that allows themto integrate this new experience into
their general understanding of things.
This approach to the book’s content, reducing it to a writing establishing only a modicum of communication is
enough to transform any deduction we may reach a posteriori, while keeping the quality of the object
unchanged. Each book, however bared of a substantial part of what characterizes it, retains its functional
identity. Both volumes preserve the image that pins them as utilitarian objects within the frame of the viewer’s
These books contain, essentially, time. Inside them, time is presented in countless shapes and different scales: the
time the author took to write it, the time each reader took to read it, the time needed for it to be understood, the
interval between the moment when it was written and the time when it was read. The possibility granted to each
individual to organize their time inside each book according to their own rhythms and sensitivities, gives the user
absolute freedom and a very rewarding experience of solitude. The greatness of this subjective dimension created
by such freedom allows the reader to compose their own narrative and be an active party in the written content of
each book, imagining the possibilities of adaptation which, endless as they are, make of the reading experience a
task performed within time itself.
Sem Título (Um ano / Um mês) [Untitled (One year / One month)], 2003, presents a will to supply minimal
interpretative references regarding its content. The year or month represented in each of its pages, subdivided
respectively in days and hours serves as the guideline that makes the degree of natural criteria applied in its
conception. By observing this configuration and by understanding that they are void of the commercial signs that
are characteristic of consumer goods, we feel that these books are no longer dependant on brands, or hostages of
the search for technical excellence characteristic of the current publishing industry. A book, in what concerns its
appearance and as any other product, goes through a thorough process of quality control that assesses its
compliance with industry standards, however, there are no rigorous criteria of cultural evaluation to assess and
avoid the proliferation of vulgar content. This construction of books without apparent signs of marketing and
design sets it apart from commercial techniques and uses minimal amounts of information to explore its core
It is by trial and tentative construction that each book allows the accumulation of new communicational skills,
solving errors along that journey of growth. The work of Adelina Lopes is evidence of a search for freedom better
understood when we perceive in her work a defence of a book conception and construction practice that is
opposed to the rushed processes of mass production, suggesting a learning model that refuses to fit into a brief
and fleeting time span its most imaginative elaborations. Richard Senett states that the new world of labour is
too mobile to permit that the will to do something well for the sake of doing it right takes root in an individual’s
experience through the years or decades. The educational system reiterates this cruel reality, preparing
individuals for a work model that favours immediate goals in detriment of depth. By reproducing this type of
culture, pervasive in every institution, a political reformer behaves as a consumer in a permanent quest for what
is new, uninterested in understanding the proud craftsman who is master of their labour.
Livro Partido [Broken Book], 2003, represents a fractured book in a way that makes us think of loss of unity.
Faced with the staging of the accident, which we see as a failed attempt at ordering chaos, we tend to read an
apology to the inevitability of chaos and randomness. This is, in fact, the only available road, even if we imagine
an all-seeing, all-knowing benevolent witness. The disappearance of the improbable would be the final moment
of our history. Individual responsibility is dependant on the impossibility to calculate every consequence of our
actions. As Paul Ricoeur put it “because someone is counting on me, I am accountable for my actions to another”.
The formation of an individual’s character, like an unchanged attitude before the troubles of existence, is faced
with a radical challenge in modern capitalism, a system that irradiates indifference, where people are shattered,
not unlike the Broken Book. The configurations of humanity achieved by the dispersal of the several morsels of
individual responsibility, which society shatters by means of work specialization, give rise to incoherent beings
constructed by reengineering the institutions wherein they are integrated. In this new reality, individuals are
treated as disposable beings when they are no longer necessary. These practices reduce a person’s value and their
worth before other in a clear and brutal fashion. A shared narrative cannot be found in the fragmented book, as
it cannot be found in the current systems of social organization. We all know that when difficulties are not
shared, there is no experiential room for history and, unable to conceive a collective destiny, we are left to our
own exploits. Such an individual has lost all their existential substance and leads an empty, hollow life, inside a
fully charged machine-time purged of unpredictability. Devoid of all risk, we are deprived of the conflicts and
antagonisms needed to solidify our memory mechanisms.
Fragmentation is a recurrent element in the work of Adelina Lopes and it holds a critical relation to the
permanent need for answers that is imposed upon us by the consumer society. A social model that hungers for the
stimulation of a search based on market segmentation, the multiplication of references and the successive output
of products whose sole purpose is to fulfil individualist whims. Notions of full and empty serve as a rhetorical
structuring aid, sometimes ironically and occasionally subliminally, presented in some of the exhibited pieces. In
Um Copo de Água [A Glass of Water], 2005, the use of an idea of measurement in the shape of a half-full bottle
intends to create an ambivalence of meanings by arousing the need for reinterpretation and a sense of familiarity.
Each work needs closure so that the contradiction between image and title may be resolved. In this sense, the
work of art acquires its own dynamic that stimulates the observer and forces them to structure a personal
narrative that makes what is observable possible and integrates all the elements in the image interpretable.
We are faced with the same processes of comprehension when we try to interpret images composed by words or
letters arranged in a way other than usual. We must restructure our speech patterns to accommodate the
intellectual solutions for atypical arrangements suggested by montages formed by letter association. This is the
exercise proposed in Four Letters,Untitled, Piled Word, Half Word and Variation on a Letter. This photographic
set faces us with distinct organizational models and letter sequencing that introduce a new symbolic reality,
different from the written language. Through the interpretative effort underlined by the title of each image, we
are led through successive processes of exegesis and understanding.
Marc Augé reflects upon the opposition between full and empty as shades of the concepts of place and non-
place; a placeshould be essentially full. Replete with social meaning, the reiteration of such abundance leads us
to define an ideal place as one where everything makes sense. The fact that all movement is - in the case of spaces
where a sensory overload is present - immediately interpreted and understood results in a lack of freedom: the
creation of an emptiness. The opposition between empty and full can also help qualify non-places. Let us
consider, for example, places that have something already seen, because they are repetitions, yes, but also
because we have seen them on TV, in magazines or elsewhere. The concepts of full and empty bring us constantly
back to the evidence of the now - evidence of what is borne of the too full of images of the too empty of night.
Large commercial spaces, including airports, parking lots and highways are in direct contrast with the too
emptyof night and relate clearly with the concept of full.
The white background that pervades all of the photographic work of Adelina Lopes is revealing of a notion of full
that relates to the light of day. However, empty is also present during the day: in empty lots, barren lands, more
or less active building sites. These are zones in waiting, which exist only as a function of what is yet to emerge.
The fullness of communication, circulation and consume spaces is a fullness of functions associated with
emptiness. Adelina Lopes proposes a glance over this relationship between full and empty. The transparency of
the materials used (glass, water, acrylic plaques, mirrors) and the use of white express an aptitude to look at the
problem of excess and lack of information as if it were a game of contrasts and symbolic deviation. The pieces
developed around these notions of full and empty are representative of a return to a reality that is not yet
inhabited, where these concepts evolve from the most elementary sensory experiences. This is a world where
“full” and “empty” cannot be felt, as we do not occupy the spaces where we move in; only thus can we aspire to
feel our body in its vast dimension.
In Four Letters, Untitled, Piled Word, Half Word and Variations on a Letter, we find an implicit game of
sophistry with some similarities to common IQ assessment tests. As in other works of the artist, the viewer
assumes a complementary role to the work’s structure. The piece’s ultimate meaning requires an apt
collaboration on their part to solve the apparent discrepancy between title and picture. Without this decoding, it
remains in a sort of existential limbo, a state of interpretative suspension, which prevents it from reaching the
absolute moment of aesthetical consummation.
As we discover the connection between the picture and its title, we acquire the necessary skills to undertake other,
future tasks of cognitive approximation, from whence we may complete our process of individual perfecting and
access other levels of understanding. This knowledge is the result of the realization of the strangeness of the act of
seeing. From the moment we see something for the first time, our perception of such a moment is changed with
time through a complex process of adding and subtracting where subsequent experiences and the relation we
establish with these objects are fundamental agents. This mutation does not need to be rationally understood.
According to Wittgenstein, it is the speed of this process that allows us to realize of the unpredictable glow that
now hovers over a new feeling, fortuitous as an undisputable imposition forcing us to question the seemingly
illogical possibility of, suddenly, an image being seen in two ways. This apparent division of the object,
understood as the result of wholly subjective processes, is a revelation that shines a light over its appearance.
It is perhaps worth noting that this quest for meaning by word is surely doomed to fail. We are at a loss from the
moment when, in order to access the conundrum “we do not know what is felt, by whom it is felt and why it is
felt” we cannot know what is written, who writes it and why it is written. The photos that compose Imagem
Cheia [Full Picture], 2008, present the viewer with an image fully taken by the transparency of water, an effect
enhanced by its acrylic coating. The flimsy water line defining the top of the picture informs us the piece is
transformed into a vessel that blends in with the boundaries of the photo. We are led to believe that this is a
depiction of a glass container of sorts where an unstable environment has been artificially created, suggested by
the convulsion on the liquid’s surface. Through the decoding of its elements, we continue to establish broad
dialogues with these pictures. It is this idea of full that fills the emptiness of this transparency. Taking in the
whole surface of the picture, this idea imposes itself to all situations that we might find inscribed on its
background, such as the purity of water, the natural environment where it exists or the ecological concern it
expresses. Full here comes into view as the powerful white background of the place represented by the photos. In
these pieces, being full is an affirmation of transparency. Space refuses us the visual embodiment of our concept.
Without body or density, it excludes all other perceptions from our field of analysis. Full and empty resolve each
other in a drive of improbability, coercing all other forms to their game of opposites.
The piece Objecto Líquido [Liquid Object], 2009, resumes itself to a glass plaque placed on the floor. Through
this object, Adelina Lopes works on an idea of plasticity, associated to a process of minimum intervention.
Noticing that the plaque follows the contour of the wall corner where it is placed, as well as all details of the
adjacent baseboard, we perceive the glass as a plastic impression. This work requires an adaptation to the
specific characteristics of the place for which it is produced; it is a work that derives from a practice of intensive
depuration of form and feeling previously alluded to.
Reducing the space of interaction between the artist and her media, we open a broad surface of plastic visibility
that can only be credited to the materials that compose the work. Glass and its transparencies do not wish to
dispute the space where they are placed. We feel a desire to go back to the principles of minimalism, and the will
to develop methodologies that relieve from objective action an artist trying to reduce all procedures to a
minimum. Within this pause the author deposits references that establish an aesthetical program for the future.
Cancelling the tasks already listed in the artist’s usual protocol - registered in previous pieces - we witness an
attempt to achieve a new degree of minimum intervention. Represented by the series Objecto Líquido [Liquid
Object], 2009, this moment establishes an effective synthesis of the body of work of Adelina Lopes and
announces a new project, one focused on the opposition between instrumental language, hetero-referential and
subjected to what we wish to communicate, and an autonomous and opaque language, the main characteristic of
which is self-reference.
TRANSLATION: DAVID ALAN PRESCOTT