“Avernus is a lake and the entrance to the underworld, guarded by the Cumean Sybil. It is she who utters the words ‘Facilis descendus Averno’ (‘Easy the way that leads into Avernus’) to Aeneas. What is the purpose of these sibyline words? What meaning does Benjamin intended them to generate? He begins his text with images of ‘woman’ and ‘death’. In Virgil’s verses it is the Sibyl who descends with Aeneas into the underworld - the realm of death. Without her he would be lost, for only she has a connection with the realm of the dead and can bring the hero back to the world above once more. While in the underworld she leads him through the past, through all that has been lost and forgotten, and thereby she helps him to behold a new realm; she leads him into the past, in order to show him the future. Avernus and Sibyl are, for Benjamin, accordingly ciphers pointing to the connection of old and new, death and life.”

Benjamin, Walter. Walter Benjamin’s Archive: Images, Texts, Signs. p.304 

ARENA, KubikGallery, 08 Mar. - 12 Apr. 2014.

For Ana Linhares the typology of an still has peripheric contours yet to be defined. In this show it is evident the author’s expectation and eagerness to define the concept of arena and territory, spaces that turn themselves perceptible through the works presented in the exhibition, which don’t pass exclusively by its geographical definition, but political, conceptual, identitary and personal as well. After a reading through the artist’s body of work, her intentions are latent: the definition of a perimeter of comfort to the transmission of part of the group of image referents and the different fields of research. The arena in this exhibition, contrarily to the roman Empire’s sand enclosures where actors untangle in sanguinary battles, it aims to debate the limits of the geographical and conceptual space, neglecting semantic questions related to the word, or to references that can be evoked immediately. What it is presented to us is a perspective about the work of Ana Linhares while collector of a range of imagetic and conceptual referents truly eclectic. Given this motto, it is proposed to us a new definition of the concept of territory that explores clear references associated with the concept of place2 marked by a certain territorial domain3, that moves itself essentially within hesitations of a past - personal and universal - still to decode. Such intent in representing the real turns itself in a inglorious task and therefore, this Empire in decline watches to the shredding of a map, remaining some fragments of a utopia scattered along deserts, similar to the Borges fable, presented by Baudrillard in his book Simulacra and Simulation4.
Some of the themes worked by Ana Linhares are related to concepts of Landscape, Memory, Archive and Atlas. In her process of creation, it is easily identified the reference to drawing machines, through the proposed clear delimitation of a space or territory, in this case peripheric, through it’s cartography and mapping, not only geographical but also conceptual - in this case, I refer specifically to the show’s “improbable object”, the wooden stick. Considering the processes of construction of the Image, either through its composition, as through its conceptual construction,
Ana Linhares opts for the deconstruction of its original referent - the image that is considered the starting point of the creation of the work - its photographs, transfers, drawings and objects. This deconstruction of the image proposes a new interpretation according to the author’s references, juxtaposing them to the curious person’s image referents, who observes attentively this complex territorial imaginary.
These images contain a resonance caused by a visual noise, but above all, it is latent to them the memory of a place yet to be de ned, shaped in the work on display. The objects reunited in the exhibition come from different origins, sometimes disconnected - internet, family lm archives, objects collected in trips to Norway, library glossaries and one Atlas organised by the author (video presented in the show) - it allows us to penetrate in this universe comparable to the legend of the volcanic lake of Avernus, expanding the territory proposed by Ana Linhares. Inherent to her creative process, it’s visible a reflection and experimentation of the potentialities of Image and Drawing in the manipulation of imaginary and apparent realities. The questioning and sustainability of an image, it’s vulnerability is in this case highlighted since it is almost impossible for us to determine a space and an action to the gures - the photographic image rarely it’s not manipulated, appropriated, or staged, even if through the first intentions by the artist that produces them - concepts inherent to the reflection about the concepts of memory, identity and perception of a space or territory.

Luís Pinto Nunes 2014

1 |ê| / (latim arena, -ae, areia, terreno arenoso, arena, an teatro) / 1. Parte do circo onde se lidam touros. / 2. Terreno (em que se combate ou se discute). [Priberam - Online Portuguese Dictionary]
2 Augé, Marc. Non - Place. 1995.
3 In the article ‘Landscape Representation: Place and identity in nineteenth century ordnance survey maps of Ireland’, Angèle Smith presents a speci c case of territorial domain, describing the strategy of domain over Irish territory by the British colonial troops, whose ‘surveyors’ directed a meticulous study of the space, representing in detail every element and characteristics of the space: “ is mapping project was unprecedent for its detail and for its systematic process of documenting the landscape. Field boundaries, roads, villages, isolated houses, even individual trees were included in this national cartographic artifact. It was an act of colonial domination - mapping was a means for Britain to maintain colonial control over Ireland, making the landscape, its peolpe and past known quanti able.” [Smith, A. apud Stewart, P. & Strathern, A. Landscape, Memory and History. 2003].
4 Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. p. 1