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Tomás Colaço
"Pension Palace - Room 11," 2009

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"Pension Palace—Room 11" is a continuation of Tomás Colaço’s August 2009 installation in Tangier of the room of an unknown – imaginary - writer. Here, the 17-meter long painting that is installed in one piece and that covers the entirety of the room pictures the district of Gibraltar, including parts of both Portugal and Morocco. Through the painting, Colaço reconstructs the environment of the “writer” who could be the “guide” the artist followed in order to arrive in Tangiers! A collection of books and found objects are set up in the room, as well as a film playing perpetually on a video monitor, informing visitors about the supposed intimate details of the life of this fictionalized writer. In fact, however, the work offers more about the artist himself through its imagined story. "Pension Palace—Room 11" is a physical realization of the space of creation, reconstructing in it as one the two places to which Colaço could possibly belong.

The walls of the space that houses Colaço’s work at the Marrakech Biennial became the backdrop of the stage for the ‘montage’, an essential part of the adaptation of the work displayed at Pension Mansion. A grey landscape painting of the Strait of Gibraltar covers in its 360º all the walls and evokes the panoramic paintings of the 18th century, as well as recalling French ‘grisaille’ wallpaper from the same period. The central point in the room coincides with the geometric centre of the panoramic painting, which, in turn, is the strait that is a bridge between Europe and Africa. The painting’s line of horizon is about half way up the wall, and on the right the Moroccan coast appears with the mountain of Jbel Moussa and Tangier, on the left is the European coast of Gibraltar, and straight ahead is the entrance into the Mediterranean, viewed from the Atlantic. In the middle, between seas and continents, the writer’s room No. 11 from Pension Palace in Tangier reappears, a reference to the appeal of Tangier for foreign writers and poets such as Jean Genet, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Mohamed Choukri and others. Two tables and chairs, a bed and a desk with books, clothes and a file, all, except for the desk, with the ‘grisaille’ shades of the painting, occupy the central area between Africa and Europe, between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Like the walls, objects are also used as support media for Colaço’s art: the two tables become canvases for grey paintings of images derived from photographs with colonial themes; the bed and the pillows also appear to be covered in grey cloth and become part of this three-dimensional painting, while the desk stands out as an ‘untreated’ object, being used only as a support for photographs and papers, some books and a file. The books, on emigration/immigration, southern movements, south/north and vice-versa, as well as novels about Tangier’s past, were chosen by the young French writer Simon-Pierre Hamelin, the manager of Librairie des Colonnes in Tangier. In the file, the public can find newspaper cuttings on the same subjects; these correspond to an essential part of current research by the Moroccan artist Yto Barada. The television showing excerpts from the black-and-white film Viva Zapata (Elia Kazan, 1952), with Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn – a western with a ‘typically Mexican’ plot – completes the accumulation of political issues ‘directly’ formulated and combined with ambiguously tendered clichés into which this ‘montage’ of Tomás Colaço’s is transformed – realities nostalgically celebrated as inventions, as hyper-realities, capable of establishing strange relationships with the very notion of ‘dis-location’ and with references relevant to current views of our worlds.
Jürgen Bock


* Jürgen Bock is a curator and Director of the Independent Study Program Maumaus in Lisbon. Exhibitions he has curated include the CCB Project Room (Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Eleanor Antin, Nathan Coley, Harun Farocki, Renée Green, Nuno Ribeiro, Allan Sekula and Heimo Zobernig, 2000/01), Andreas Siekmann, From: Limited Liability Company (Triennial of India, New Delhi, 2005), Ângela Ferreira, Maison Tropicale (Portuguese Pavilion, Venice Biennial, 2007), Drawing a Tension – Works from the Deutsche Bank Collection (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, 2008), Ângela Ferreira, Hard Rain Show (Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon; La Criée – centre d’art contemporain, Rennes, 2008); Heimo Zobernig, Heimo Zobernig and the Collection of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Modern Art Centre (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, 2009), From Malangatana to Pedro Cabrita Reis – Works from the Caixa Geral de Depósitos Collection (Centre de Artes, Sines, 2009).

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