Alberto Giacometti – Peter Lindbergh. Seizing the Invisible
Giacometti Lindbergh are greater than the sum of their parts. The MMIPO is showcasing a rare exhibition where the two artists have collaborated, until September 24th. The show is curated by Charlotte Crapts who, in incessant communication with the Giacometti Foundation, managed to get this exhibition to Porto.
Sculptures, drawings and photographs are joined together in an adjacent atrium to a church. A myriad of representations of human-like beings. The fascination of an artist with another. Both setting and subject contribute to the feeling of staring at a pantheon of unknown deities, paying tribute to an antique culture which through their tokens lets you know they were not that different from us.
"If someone were to ask me what the five most beautiful days of my life have been, that day with Giacometti's sculptures would be certainly in the top three”, said Lindberg when interviewed about his collection of photographs.
Giacometti sculpts like he draws, the process is left on the bodies of his creations. There is something raw about his sculptures, as if he intently left his fingerprints on the malleable surface, just so an attentive spectator could later find them and share this little secret with him. On a room off the main atrium, there is a video shot of Giacometti at work in his studio, where with both thumbs he sculpts the face of one of his creations. In symmetric motion, he pushes the clay inward to accentuate the being’s features, as if caressing it. There is an innate desire to touch his work, to lay your fingers on his.
Lindbergh lays it all flat. He takes away the process, the physicality, the submissiveness. The sculptures become people, entities of their own, giants even. Many of the photographs look like portraits, hinting at a backstory, a single moment that was captured in the whole of each of their lives.
This idea of portraiture is interesting to tinker with because it pays homage to the museum's origins. The MMIPO was established as a space to flaunt portraits of people who had donated to the adjoining church. The bigger the sum, the bigger the portrait.
And what big sums they must have been. The encompassing word coming out of this dialogue between sculpture and photograph is scale. Despite the object being the same, the way in which it is communicated is defining. By changing the size, the crude statues are either subdued to us or bigger than our reach. The play on scale was surprising even to Giacometti scholars as zooming in on the bodies allowed for a more scrutinised look at the sculptures, they saw details they had not noticed before.
The invisible is seized, not only on the particulars indiscernible to the naked eye, but as well on Lindberg’s appreciation of Giacometti’s work. It is often hard to explain to another person how one interprets an artwork or what it might mean to them, Lindberg makes it all the more visible.