A large pool with hundreds of sparkling elements overhung by a diving board sets the scene for The Memory of Water, the first joint work by Ricardo and Sandra. At first you think you can see crystal or flakes, blocks of frost…finally this pool is made up of an agglomeration of plastic bags filled with water, placed on the ground. The water is compressed into piles of small packages and attacked by the artificiality of plastic and metal.
The Memory of Water draws its inspiration from the Côa Valley in northern Portugal, known for its Paleolithic cave paintings discovered in the 1980s. The river Côa, (a tributary of the Douro River) was a focal point for many prehistoric communities, water being a precious resource. The starting point for the duo Sandra and Ricardo’s reflections, the latter understands water as a metaphor for humanity, for the birth of civilization.
Water can then be seen as passive and suggest contemplation, but conversely, by stimulating it with external elements and forces, this calm element can pass into a state of excitement and bubbling. As a source of conflict in many areas, water can be a source of disturbance and violence. It is by developing all these concepts, by using water as a metaphor of society that the duo proposes to materialise it through this installation.
The dimension of public art and dialogue with the spectator is important in the artists’ approach, particularly in Sandra Baia’s work, who has for example been able to place a gigantic sphere between two buildings (Entalada, 2018), or aluminium waves in the open air (Imitative, 2016). Her interest in questions of mirrors and transparency is noteworthy. By installing a diving board in the work, the artists invite the visitor to walk through it and plunge his or her gaze into this artificial ocean, perhaps see its reflection and create a face-to-face encounter with the work and its underlying environmental aspects. These plastic bags also evoke the containers used for drinking in some countries, and the ecological havoc they cause since they are regularly thrown on the public highway or into nature.
The Memory of Water suggests an immersion exploring interstitial territories. Water generates life and destroys it, it embellishes landscapes as it damages them, it falls from the sky, soft or acidic. Social spaces and cultures are born from water.