Sobe, sobe, balão sobe [Rise, rise, balloon rise],

sang Manuela Bravo at the Eurovision Song Contest of 1979, the year of André Gonçalves' birth. The singer's performance can be easily found on YouTube and, on looking at it, we cannot avoid finding ourselves confronted with a certain temporal discrepancy, a nostalgic feeling, a refrence to a time that is no longer ours, that no longer exists, but which is still near enough to be present in our memory. The choice of this subject is no coincidence, as can easily be seen in the song's title and exhibited work, and is not gratuitous either. Most of André Gonçalves' works explore the feeling of discomfort resulting from the lack of adequacy of technological cultural artifacts to a contemporary context, due to their quick obsolescence. Thus, the use (recycling) of outmoded equipment and a work method that embodies autodidactism and the DIY ethics (and aesthetics) as its organising principle are fundamental to our understanding of Gonçalves' approach. The DIY logic is especially important here, not only as a fundamental modus operandi of contemporary culture and, more specifically, of what is termed "digital culture" by a certain academic discourse, but also as a strategy that runs through all the production of this artist, be it in musical or contemporary art terms.

Tape Loop, the piece which openes this edition of "7 artists on the 10th month" is the result of Gonçalves' interest in "dead media!, previously formulated in works like Pong (2008) or Untitled #06 (2007). Tape loop is, in simple terms, a message written on magnetic tape, that relic from an obsolete analogue past when cassettes provided a widely available means of storing information. "New media" states the tape, provocatively: the "old" (or "dead") as the prophet of the "new". However, this connection between obsolete and contemporary is not as clear as it seems: the latter's support is the former and, this being a loop, we expect the latter to unavodably become the former, "dying too". The loop's logic is, by definition, a circular one, acting here as the metaphor for a process that swiftly creates, uses and destroys new technologies/products.

In Of how we have to leave doubts, expectations and the unachieved, a piece created specifically for the exhibition, Gonçalves deals with another one of his recurring subjects: the technological control of natural phenomena on a personal scale; more specifically, the emulation of the natural dislocation of air, the wind. The use of computer fans, originally used for cooling the machine, preventing its possible damaging through overheating, has been a constant feature in his work (I thought some daisies might cheer you up, 2006 or You got me floating, 2007). In the version shown here, the fans are semi-industrial and the ballons remain, but instead of poetically hanging in the air, by means of a controlled air flux, or perpetually ascending, as in Manuela Bravo's ditty, they now move across a firing range, while camera-controlled paintball guns shoot to destroy them, splattering an amalgam of latex and paint across the installatio's space. This apparatus is apparently self-contained; interactivity, which is both a means of distinguishing the "new media" from the so-called traditional art forms and a utopian promise of a new kind of art, is here inexistent and undesired. The ballons' inconsequent lightness and the guns' automatic violence create a perfect dialectic, which needs no elements extraneous to its own condition. However, even though intractivity is out of the question, the same cannot be said of interference, since Gonçalves has conceived his system in such a way that some balloons can escape the guns'computerised aim and reach the end of the corridor untouched, where more uninhibited or curious viewers may, with some effort, take them and put them back into the system, thus disrupting the piece's apparently self-containedcondition, in which no outside intervention would seem possible.
In previous works, the ballons floated; now they are targets of robtised weapons. André Gonçalve's first piece for an institutional context is also his first piece to show a more violent side, in which the poetics of lightness and imponderability is replaced by the noisy roar of destruction. Have all doubts and expectations been abandoned once and for all?

Comissioned by Gulbenkian Foundation and published in 7/10, the catalogue documenting the exhibition 7 artists on the 10th month, held from October 3rd, 2008 to January 11th, 2009, at Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. Translated from Portuguese by José Gabriel Flores.