Fernanda Fragateiro
Portugal, 1962
Fernanda Fragateiro’s work, which is in line with the contemporary trend in installation sculpture, is characterised by clear references to architecture. In many cases her works are executed at and for specific sites, and some are permanent outdoor pieces. It is therefore not surprising that her work has a strong relational character: rather than simply viewing the work, members of the public are often invited to interact with it. Fragateiro sometimes works alone but also collaborates on some projects with architects, landscape designers and town planners. The artist draws inspiration from historical, architectural, social and other dimensions of public and private sites. Her works, which are extremely austere in appearance, question absence and presence, emptiness, the memory of places and their amnesia as time passes, the paradox of monumentality, and even the function of the artistic intervention itself. The minimalist pieces she creates reflect her anti-monumentalism and her belief that artworks should blend into their environment. Rather than drawing attention, her works are almost like an invisible backdrop given their modest presence. Social, anthropological, landscape, documentary and performance-related references appear discreetly, intersecting in a way intended to stimulate viewers as they contemplate her work. Spatial phenomenology, with direct exploration of the scale of the work, is another concern that drives the investigation pursued by Fragateiro, for whom space is an incomplete continuum that must be experienced. In Unbuilt. After Conjunto habitacional em Scalaheen, Tipperary, Irlanda, 2005. Atelier Soma, Portugal, we see an example of this exploration of the empty/full, where the container is a call to action, inviting us to think about its relational possibilities. The repetition of modules—with variants that differ only slightly, exquisitely executed in poplar wood, like a collection of models produced by an architectural firm for projects never built (which is in fact what the piece is based on)—explores artistic practice and its duty to society, to our striving towards utopia, and to the sensations we experience as the recipients of the work.
Virginia Torrente