For his exhibition at Espai 13
, João Onofre has created Untitled (Original orchestrated ersatz light version), a video that continues his exhaustive research into performance, this time using a highly sophisticated piece of interpretative art. By incorporating into the work the famous Portuguese singer Adelaide Ferreira and a symphony orchestra, Onofre provides viewers with new ideas and ways of responding to popular culture.
In the video, made especially for the cycle Implicit Sound, the artist appears for the first time on camera as a tribute to the work of the pioneering visual artists who used their own bodies as works of art. The exhibition is on view from July 15 through September 11, 2011 at Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona
Since graduating from Goldsmiths College in 1999, João Onofre has continued to shine, becoming one of the most interesting artists of his generation. Concentrating mainly on the creation of videos with a strong performative component, Onofre also uses photography and text. His videos show an interest in the effects on individuals of certain extreme physical conditions, usually testing their endurance. He often involves groups of individuals in role playing or group portraits, thus exploring the complexities of group dynamics. His works incorporate gestures and situations that cause anxiety and discomfort and he often makes use of pieces from art history, songs or scenes from films.
Continued repetition of a gesture, an event unable to develop, together with a struggle to overcome, dominate the characters of Instrumental Version (2001), Pas daction (2002) and Casting (2000). In Casting, a series of models continuously repeat a line said by Ingrid Bergman in Roberto Rossellini's film Stromboli, "May I have strength, conviction and courage". Subjected to repetition, the line ends up sounding empty; it loses its original meaning and power, and reminds us of auditions at a casting call - moments of emotional release and an example of a situation pushed to the limit.
Another of Onofre's concerns reflected in his work is the inability to control the body. For Box sized "Die" featuring Vidres a la sang (2007-2010) Onofre asked a Barcelona death-metal band to play in a soundproofed replica of Tony Smith's minimalist sculpture Die (1962). He pushed their resistance to suffocation, feelings of confinement and claustrophobia to the limit by subjecting them to an extreme shortage of air and space.
In his videos, the processes of entropy and degradation created by the physical situations to which the artist subjects the protagonists are heightened and the tension created by the prospect of collapse, decay and disintegration is ever-present.
Finally, his interest in the unpredictable is also palpable in the majority of his works, as in Untitled (Vulture in the Studio) where he films a huge disorientated vulture confined to the artist's studio.