João OnofreLisboa ¶ 1976
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He studied painting at the Fine Arts School of Lisbon, and completed his studies with a MFA at the Goldsmith College in London. ¶ One of the most successful artists of his generation, Onofre was honoured with a very early international exhibition of his work, being invited by curator Harald Szeemann for the 2001 Venice biennial. ¶ Working exclusively with video, the artist has explored the performative potential of the medium, by a classical disposition of an express time and space unity, the setting of extremely proficient communicational situations, whose efficiency, where the "message" is concerned, is rounded off by quoting strategies. One must not understand this to be quoting in its strictest sense, but rather in its wide cultural consequence, including its emotional facets and the dexterity with which the artist is able to operate it. ¶ Onofre presents an immense nostalgia for Modernity's universe of references, revisiting its myths with a look at one time clinical and sentimental. In this line of thought, the Neo-Realist voluntarism is evoked by the re-enactment of the last sentence from Roberto Rosselini's Stromboli in a casting call full of young aspiring models whose ineffable shallowness is painfully disparate from the sentence's dramatic clout: ''Che io abbia la forza, la convinzione e il coraggio" ("That I may have the force, the conviction and the courage"). ¶ Just as Onofre lines up his actors and extras or draws up his situations in front of the cameras, we may also draw up some of the other themes he has pursued. Among these are the mechanization of the human, in Instrumental Version (2001), a video that portraits a university chorus singing a transcription of Kraftwerk's electronic song The Robots; the sheer hopelessness of communicating in a love relationship, in the video that expands a sequence from Fassbinder's Martha; the unconscious' wild force, taken as a romantic paradigm for artistic production and the ensuing tension with civilizational restraint, in Untitled (Vulture in the Studio) (2002), that shows a vulture flying about the artist's studio. ¶ By making evident Modernity's history of expectancy, Onofre uses video in order to invoke a theatre stage. Adding a meta-filiation level to his production, Onofre accordingly reaffirms at a formal level what is most dear to him in terms of content: the nostalgia for an era irrevocably lost in and for electronics.
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