The Parliament of Charybdis

Everything changes and nothing stands still.
Everything flows and nothing abides.
Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.
Everything flows; nothing remains.
All is flux, nothing is stationary. ­­
All is flux, nothing stays still.
All flows, nothing stays.


These are some of the variations on the fundamental premise of the Heraclitian flux which introduces the consciousness that nature is in constant movement and therefore one can never step into the same water twice [1]. This idea can be taken as the lapidary motto for Ricardo Jacinto’s exhibition where, as it is already a common motif in his work, an event unfolds into possible infinite layers and moments. The singularity of each second, as well as the continuous deconstructive dispersion of space and time, thus function as the collective fruition for this plural and multifaceted organism. Introducing a poetic and scenographed microcosm, the artist positions the viewer before a formal limbo that wanders assertively between proto-architecture, sculpture, sound and drawing, in an installation where precariousness, transience and active performativity come together in an omnipresent device.

There is a central drawing – which functions as a point of centrifugation, but we shall return to this idea later – which dictates the dispersion of the other objects that surround it and which, in this sense, positions itself as the focus of the network of coexisting relationships. Circumscribed and opacified with the apparently immaterial iron oxide pigment, this circular background is born from the shape of a threshing floor and of the ruins of the wells around it close to Jacinto and OSSO’s collective studio in São Gregório, and which had once served as a space for agricultural work – and thus for a communitary experience. The mapped observation of the reticule and patina of this situ as a ritualistic process for the suggestion of a Utopian stage/place, is here transfused by pure abstraction in the unfolding of its body and its presence, both physical and invisible, culminating in the immersive dissension of a sonic landscape and a chamber of echoes – to which we shall likewise return.

Returning to the previously declared centrifugation, it exists as a metaphor that enhances the arrangement of the other objects in the space, as well as their activation by the spectator. Let’s see: six large hoops found on site are re-signified in the gallery, positioned on a higher plane above the black drawing and which, simultaneously to their dispersive sculptural form, function as radiating objects of six stereo FM mini-transmitters without input signal, whilst also as antennas in tune with the analogous frequency (104.3 MHz), emitting intimate interferences to their remanence. Now, homologous to the metaphor of the well as a black depth built to emerge water, the title of the installation suggests the mythological nymph Charybdis, who tormented sailors crossing the Strait of Messina – the maritime border in the Mediterranean Sea –, namely Odysseus (or Ulysses, depending on one’s literary preference), whose echoes of confrontation and attempt at dialogue we can perceive in the radioscape surrounding the sculpture. This torment is not innocent in co-signification, but rather positions oneself in an active parliament where a democratic action is reflected upon a phenomenological tumult of a rather violent centrifugation in the sea, resulting in a symbolic whirlwind of reflections and sounds, [235] …divine Charybdis terribly sucked down the salt water of the sea. Verily whenever she belched it forth, like a cauldron on a great fire she would seethe and bubble in utter turmoil, and high over head the spray would fall on the tops of both the cliffs, [240] …while beneath the earth appeared black with sand. So we looked toward her and feared destruction.[2]

In fact, we are herewith dealing with phenomena that conflict between dialogue and destruction, whether it being through the bodies whose silence is suspended by diving into their external interferences and deambulations, or through the third moment of the exhibition – which unfolds into a fourth, and which is projected onto two different planes, that of the floor and that of the walls – with the plaster and the iron dust. Accompanying the imminent destruction there is, simultaneous to the central composition, the suggestion of a piece of plaster split into thirteen fragments whose external outline does not only come from the primary form of one of the iron circles but, internally and after its destruction, is mapped out individually on the walls. This means that each of the thirteen wrecks is drawn in iron oxide pigment on the lateral and frontal walls of the space, projecting the memory of its own destruction as well as intuiting its new resignification and existence.

We find thus established a scenic place, a misty one, devoid of time and space; a sensitive parliament, paradoxical in its meaning. There is a narrative of infinite resonances moved by the drift of the spectator, each sound – each intimate echo – is the result of walking in the sonic space, visible and manifested through forms but far beyond the single object and which, despite its apparent silence, is involved in an electromagnetic storm. There is also a tectonic dimension to it, an intuitive and natural construction of the exhibition, which multiplies itself in every look and which is deduced from every thought, allowing the viewers themselves the power and possibility of putting the pieces of the puzzle together, hence reconfiguring and pluralising each sign visible in the space. The sensibility of a spatial and sound narrative that varies according to the perception of the depth and the plane, the emptiness and the vertigo, from where one enters and from where one leaves – concomitantly, the confrontation between the abstract and formal relation at a distance and the sensitive variation to the approximation and immersion – similar to a labyrinth whose parts endlessly unfold into others [3] – is tested. A certainty of infinity is palpable, regardless of its unconcreteness, it is lived as an unrepeatable and diffuse experience, eternal and expanded far beyond the exhibition space – relative to the autonomy of the broadcasting arena. The cognitive experience is released from the constraint of the spatiotemporal condition, and the objects are freed from their proto-aesthetic condition.

The border is thus abolished and water will pass once between all – everything flows, panta rhei [4].

Eva Mendes


[1] Plato, Plato’s Cratylus. Cambridge studies in the Dialogues of Plato, 2003. 402a.
[2] Homer, The Odyssey, Translated by Robert Fagles. Penguin Classics, 2003. [235-240].
[3] In the way established by Gilles Deleuze (The Fold Leibniz and the Baroque, Translated by Tom Conley. University of Minnesota Press, 1993. p.3).
[4] Everything flows. Pre-socratic thought attributed to Heraclitus (Plato, Plato’s Cratylus. Cambridge studies in the Dialogues of Plato, 2003).


Production: OSSO
Assistants: Ana Bento & Nuno Morão


Recording of any audio-walk inside the exhibition space. The sound corresponds to the live electromagnetic interferences between the 6 FM transmitters, with no signal input, present in the installation.