2023 – Matter of Kinship / Matéria de Afinidades (Mateus Foundation, Portugal)

Artist Anne Marie Maes installed her mobile studio on the grounds of Casa de Mateus. She carefully observed the different ecologies and responded with interventions to the specific aspects of the vast domain. With her work, she subtly introduces angles that show the site from a new perspective. Her interventions break the daily routines of the site and make others look at the environment of Casa de Mateus with new eyes. The expo “Matter of Kinship / Matéria de Relações” highlights certain processes and results of her interventions.

All images: MATTER of KINSHIP / MATERIA de AFINIDADES, Mateus Foundation, Portugal.

“I learned about the forests and wildflowers along the side of the road, I observed the beehives hidden among the old spruce trees and studied the river that, as the seasons progressed, released a little more of its bed each time. I wandered through the vineyards and gathered work materials in the vegetable gardens and orchards, and I look forward to the mushroom season ahead. Nature continues to reveal itself through constant microactivity where bacteria, insects, lichens and other organisms communicate with each other through mutual exchanges and symbiotic relationships. I meticulously scanned the various environments, studying the interrelationships and complex layering. In the baroque gardens with their vast rose beds and hidden boxwood corridors, I felt like Alice in Wonderland. The time I spent in this residency made me look at things again and again and discover new particularities. The details in a leaf, the smell of sheep’s wool, the touch of a tree’s bark, the exact moment of the day when a flower opens its nectar glands, the specific flight path of a honey bee, the growth of a pear through the seasons, the wealth of color pigments that can be extracted from all of this. A million colors, a million forms a never-ending activity and even so much more than what is visible to the human eye…”

Together with the other artists, makers and scientists who are involved in this project, I have implemented these impressions and observational data into artworks to tell new stories about this extraordinary place, the Casa de Mateus. The exhibition is a start to spread this new knowledge. A publication with contributions from Teresa Albuquerque de Souza, Jonathan Minchin, Margarita Maximova, Luc Steels and Anne Marie Maes will conclude the project in April 2024.

‘O Tiger-lily,’ said Alice, addressing herself to a flower that was
waving gracefully about in the wind, ‘I wish you could talk!’
‘We can talk,’ said the Tiger-lily, ’when there’s anybody worth
talking to.’ Alice through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll.