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ALTER EGO 2018 - Macau

Words:

Edd Norval
March 29, 2019

Macau, a city of many faces, some ancient and traditional, others modern, contemporary and looking towards the future, played host to an equally multifaceted artistic event. Alter Ego gave artists a chance to explore not only their art, but themselves, in a unique location with an equally unique concept.

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Divided into separate exhibitions, various conceptual entities for the artists to work with, The Self, The Other and From Language to Travel were the first three banners which art and ideas would march under.


Intended to be as much of an aesthetic showcase as an introspective occasion, Alter Ego is a platform of conceptual phases. Firstly, The Self. This exhibition delved into self-awareness, how we see ourselves and how that affects the way we interact with the world around us. It's through understanding ourselves - the pearl that we all search for, where we can begin to grow and help others do the same.


Then came The Other, an exhibition as a means to see what we really know about each other, after we've first examined ourselves. It isn't the 'other' as a body independent of ours that we have consciously viewed as different, rather it's about how we can and do rely on others, how other 'selfs' come to rely on us. The Other is relationships, bonds, common ground and moments shared.

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Although all could be seen as experiences, From Language to Travel stands out as a particularly poignant example of experience as lived - ones that we have had and ones that we can give others. The artists were able to examine language in the broadest sense, as symbol, as words, spoken, thought, imagined, dreamed.


Language is part of the discourse that links the previous two - self and other, it's the communication and land of shared ideas. All three together offer a holistic look at what exactly it means to be human, to be alive and perhaps more importantly, what these words themselves mean.


Deeply explorative, the exhibitions, curated by Vhils and Pauline Foessel, is at once a mirror image and reflection of ourselves and the societies that shaped our place in it - our behaviours and actions. The world around us comes into play in the fourth exhibition, Culture Clash, where we see the effects of what we think, feel, believe and create. How do our ideas function? How does our art influence? How do others interpret these ideas with their own cultural inflection?

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Within this realm comes barriers and miscommunication - not all cultures coalesce, not all ideas bind. Zooming out further, aiming to encompass an even more rounded view is the fifth exhibition Globalisation, which 'broadens the spectrum of analysis' looking at larger cultural bodies and the interchanges that occur between them in a world that is subsequently growing smaller as it is growing upwards and outwards.


Finally, the eponymous exhibition Alter Ego is a means of wrapping up the personal and introspective with the global and holistic. Us, them, the world. This thought-provoking exhibition looks at the fundamental similarities that we share. In essence, Alter Ego, as a whole, takes us from the elementary particles of being and thought, to the complete perspective of humanity and all of its plethora of feelings and emotions.

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It was through the artists, representing China and Lusophone countries, where the event came alive and left its lasting legacy and impact on all those who attended. The complete roster includes:


Herberto Smith (São Tomé and Príncipe) | João Ó & Rita Machado (Portugal) | Li Hongbo (China) | Mauro Pinto (Mozambique) | Vhils (Portugal) | Wing Shya (Hong Kong) | Abdel Queta Tavares (Guinea Bissau) | Ann Hoi (Macao) | Fidel Évora (Cape Verde) | Pedrita Studio (Portugal) | Ricardo Gritto (Portugal) | Tony Amaral (East Timor) | Xisto Soares (East Timor) | Yiu Chi Leung (Hong Kong) | Zhang Dali (China) | Gonçalo Mabunda (Mozambique) | Kiluanji Kia Henda (Angola) | Miguel Januário (Portugal) | Nástio (Angola) | Guilherme Gafi (Brazil) | Wasted Rita (Portugal) | Francisco Vidal (Portugal & Angola)


Individually, these artists are strong, but Alter Ego marries them into one complete and complex unit, each exhibition, likewise, working both as a standalone and a larger interplay between each other. Alter Ego was a voyage of the soul, an artistic journey that went as far in as it did far out. It shone its spotlight on humans alone and as a group, underpinned with the fundamental notion of what makes us so.

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