Shards is an installation of photography and sculpture that continues the project conceived by Kevin van Braak for the collective exhibition knell dobre glas. A series of sixteen sculptures, which figures characters mainly related to the political and economic power, was produced in clay by a craftsman from the Portuguese region of Barcelos. The heads were then subject to the action of fire, and the exhibition shows the result of that process.
text by Óscar Faria
Shards has its origin in a project conceived by Kevin van Braak for the exhibition knell dobre glas, recently presented in the different spaces of Galeria Quadrado Azul. Within this show, the artist produced, in collaboration with José Esteves, a potter from the region of Barcelos, sixteen heads in clay representing, in a realistic aesthetic, figures intimately related to the economic, political and military administration of the planet.
From the first moment, the idea was that the work would have its culmination in the burning of the heads and that the result of that process would be the shards, here presented as an allegory of the current crisis and of the desire to overcome the present time, dominated by markets, by capital and by violence. The power has also an end: like this one, broken in pieces, devastated by flames.
The idea of death runs through the whole project of Kevin van Braak. The heads were modelled from images found on the internet: from corporate images and other images harvested from the media flow, the artist formed his archive. Figures live in the condition of ghosts: they are men without thickness, flat, hardly identifiable because their action is governed by secrecy in distant spaces from the public sphere and from the control of the voters.
Kevin van Braak also chose to make the heads in a dimension larger than the human scale, emphasizing the monstrosity of the portrayed with this gesture. To the visitor of knell dobre glas the heads appeared in the ground, beheaded, or from the ground, as if the bodies have been buried, like in Dante’s Hell. The will to surrender them to fire made the rest of the job: almost nothing left, just shards, riddled skulls, bits of organs, without identity.
The shards visible at the gallery in a continuous line, a sort of mass grave, also recall the discovery of bodies violently sacrificed by genocide, by ethnic persecution, by several totalitarianisms. However, the situation is reversed because the owners of power now emerge as victims of a desiring, allegorical, and even festive act – the capital devastated by art, is there a more beautiful image?