Gabriela Albergaria

Gabriela Albergaria
113 (Brooklyn Botanical Garden), 2016
Green colour pencil on paper and inkjet print
75 × 100 cm

Making Soil

Gabriela Albergaria
December 2, 2022 – January 28, 2023
Rue de la Concorde, 1050 Ixelles, Brussels

This will be Gabriela Albergaria’s first solo exhibition in Belgium.

The drawings and the sculpture presented here by Gabriela Albergaria were inspired by Wendell Berry’s book The Work of Local Culture (1988), the story of a bucket hanging from a fence, collecting rain, snow and leaves. Over the course of time, those natural inputs have created a wet, rotting base, producing an entirely new layer of soil. Making Soil, the title of the exhibition is a phrase from the book.

The drawings play with the idea of an imagined landscape, since the two parts of the work, one of them a photograph, and the other a drawing, do not necessarily actually combine into a whole. However, they are complementary.

The central piece, Pinch Pinch Pinch, refers to permaculture and to the fertile soils disappearing gradually all over the planet because of all sorts of misuse and overexploitation. The support, made out of the soil gathered in the Fa woods, uses an age-old technique of trodden earth construction. This base is covered with a multitude of cubes of earth, some of which contain seeds of non-GMO beans. This reminder of intensive agriculture, which exhausts the soil, can also be found in the very dimensions of the sculpture, since it is made up of twenty-five 30cm by 30cm squares, corresponding to the size of the machines seeding agricultural land. The thickness of the support, between 20 and 25 cm of soil, corresponds for its part to the average thickness of fertile soil on the planet. Each cube at the centre of a 30cm area contains one seed.

Nature all around Brussels plays a pivotal role in this exhibition. The places where the soil is collected have a significant role for the artist. The north of Portugal of which she is a native, the Foret de Soignes (Bruxelles-Capitale and Region Wallonne) and the Bois de Fa (Grez-Doiceau, Belgian), all these are not mere sources of materials, but places that are deeply involved in the artist’s creative process and in her inspiration.

—From LMNO’s presentation

FOR MANY YEARS MY WALKS HAVE TAKEN ME down an old fencerow in a wooded hollow on what was once my grandfather’s farm. A battered galvanized bucket is hanging on a fence post near the head of the hollow, and I never go by it without stopping to look inside. For what is going on in that bucket is the most momentous thing I know, the greatest miracle that I have ever heard of: it is making earth. The old bucket has hung there through many autumns, and the leaves have fallen around it and some have fallen into it. Rain and snow have fallen into it, and the fallen leaves have held the moisture and so have rotted. Nuts have fallen into it, or been carried into it by squirrels; mice and squirrels have eaten the meat of the nuts and left the shells; they and other animals have left their droppings; insects have flown into the bucket and died and decayed; birds have scratched in it and left their droppings or perhaps a feather or two. This slow work of growth and death, gravity and decay, which is the chief work of the world, has by now produced in the bottom of the bucket several inches of black humus. I look into that bucket with fascination because I am a farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts, and I recognize there an artistry and a farming far superior to mine, or to that of any human. I have seen the same process at work on the tops of boulders in a forest, and it has been at work immemorially over most of the land surface of the world. All creatures die into it, and they live by it.

The Work of Local Culture
by Wendell Berry, Mar o4, 2014 (excerpt)
—In Daily Good

Land Fill

Gabriela Albergaria.
Land Fill, 2019
Various materials collected on the abandoned underground line connecting Coimbra to Lousã, and clay slip (liquid mud) 500 × 400 × 100 cm

Using garbage and local liquid clay (clay slip) from one built but never used metro line (Metro do Mondego) one financial scandal and once more total disrespect for the people who need public transport in the region of Coimbra, Portugal
This art piece is a result of the invitation by the students of Laboratório de Curadoria (curatorial studies) at Colegio das Artes from the University of Coimbra, Portugal.

Gabriela Albergaria.
Land Fill, 2019
Various materials collected on the abandoned underground line connecting Coimbra to Lousã, and clay slip (liquid mud) 500 × 400 × 100 cm
Gabriela Albergaria.
Land Fill, 2019
Various materials collected on the abandoned underground line connecting Coimbra to Lousã, and clay slip (liquid mud) 500 × 400 × 100 cm

—more on this project on the artist’s website

About the Artist

Albergaria’s work involves one territory: Nature. A nature manipulated, planted, transported, set in a hierarchy, catalogued, studied, felt and recalled through the ongoing exploration of gardens in photography, drawing and sculpture. The artist views gardens as elaborated constructs, representational systems and descriptive mechanisms that epitomize a set of fictional beliefs that are employed to represent the natural world. Gardens are also environments dedicated to leisure and study, cultural and social processes that produce a historical understanding of what is knowledge and what is pleasure.

More generally, the images of gardens and plant species employed by the artist are used as devices to reveal processes of cultural change through which visions of nature are produced. Mediated by representation systems they generate different versions of what we see as landscape—itself a complex system of material structures and visual hierarchies, cultural constructs that define the framing of our visual field.

Since 1999 Albergaria has exhibited regularly around the world.

Recent solo shows and installations include:

Nature Abhors a Straight Line Fundação Culturgest, Lisboa; …an adventure in which humans are only one kind of participant… at Galeria Vera Cortês, Lisboa Portugal (2019); Natures’ Afterlives, Sapar Contemporary, New York (2019); Ridge and Furrow (Vala e Cômoro), curated by Filipa Oliveira, Painters Garden – Botanical Garden of de Art Center Casa da Cerca,, Almada/ Lisboa 2019; Pinch Pinch Pinch, Projecto Intervenções, Museu Lasar Segall, São Paulo, Brasil (2018); Ah, Al Fin Naturaleza, Flora ars+natura, Bogotá, Colombia,(2016); Ah, Finalmente, Natureza, Fórum Eugénio de Almeida (Évora, 2015); Two Trees in Balance, Socrates Sculpture Park, New York (2015) and in 2013 in Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo and Hacienda La Trinidad Parque Cultural, Caracas, Venezuela.

Group exhibitions include:

Tudo o que eu quero / All I Want – Artistas portuguesas de 1900 a 2020, curated by Bruno Marchand and Helena Freitas, 2021/22 at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal and centre de création contemporain olivier debré, Tours, France; Zona da Mata, curated by Ana Magalhães, Cauê Alves, Marta Bogéa, Part I MAM, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, 2021; DRAWING POWER – CHILDREN OF COMPOST, curated by Joana Neves, Frac Picardie, 2021; 2018 Amazônia: Novos Viajantes, MUBE, Museu Brasileiro da Escultura e Ecologia (São Paulo, SP), curated by Cauê Alves e Lucia Lohmann; Wave Hill Garden, Glyndor Gallery, New York, 2014; Do barroco Para o Barroco – Está a Arte Contemporânea, Casa da Parra, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 2013.