The Dept. of Signs and Symbols is pleased to announce the exhibition: DISENCHANTMENTS, Filipe Cortez’s first solo exhibition. The exhibition will feature a site-specific intervention, whereby Cortez instills his process of ‘contamination’, along with an installation of his new series, ‘Fossils’. In this body of work, Cortez confronts the contemporary cycle of consumption with its own decay. DISENCHANTMENTS will be on view from July 9 through July 29, 2015. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, July 9 from 6 – 8 p.m.

Cortez’s new series, ‘Fossils’, consists of latex casts and plaster replicas of abandoned objects found on the streets of New York City. Cortez collects the discarded objects from construction sites and piles of waste, attracted by their forgotten state. He then castes them in latex, which when removed creates a skin that preserves the object’s shape and absorbs the texture of the surface. Flakes of paint and dirt cling to the latex membrane, embedding the original object within its copy. These skins act as reservoirs of memory, forming an archive of the abandoned objects. The skin is then used to create a plaster replica, with Cortez meticulously duplicating the found object and preserving the traces of human life. The ‘fossils’ are distinct from that which they are records of, yet concurrently retain many of the original properties. They exist as residues of past lives, recalling the passage of time and process of decay.

With the ‘fossils’, Cortez creates visual allegories for lived experience – of history, place, memory and the body. His practice breaks the recycle-cycle and questions the relationship between the ready-made and the object. The skins create an archive of abandoned objects while his replicas act as relics of the future. The poetry of his practice lies within the very nature of the materiality of latex. While creating an archive of abandoned objects, latex preserves the memory of the imprint only temporarily; as its nature pre-determines its inevitable disintegration. Cortez’s process therefore is a mix of rejuvenation and degeneration. For a moment, the fossils are boats against the current, before they yield to their determined fate.

Alongside the ‘fossils’ Cortez will produce a site-specific intervention. He will “contaminate” one wall with graphite powder to reflect disease, adulteration, and architectural disintegration. The intervention becomes a commentary on both the industrial sublime and urban decay. Starting with a white-walled surface, Cortez creates the illusion of deterioration and ruin. The contamination counteracts the practice of his ‘fossils’.

What is the relationship between the representation, the copy and the ready- made? For Cortez, the elegiac nature of the skins and their paradoxical existence reflect upon the New York habit of leaving ones unwanted furniture and waste on the sidewalk. Products of consumption are picked up by the passerby only to, in time, face the same fate once again until their purpose has been fully exhausted. It is those exhausted objects that Cortez finds and replicates; his work is a commemoration to a past life as he creates the fossils of the future, effectively building an artistic language through the mining of subtle beauty from degradation, decomposition, disenchantment and ruins.

Filipe Cortez' multidisciplinary practice (site specific interventions involving performance, painting, drawing, sculpture and installation) examines memory, time and decay. The Portuguese artist investigates physical decay relating to the human body and architecture and the connections between both through in-situ performances. Through an intensive examination conducted with microscopic intention, Cortez succeeds in extracting an aesthetic of beauty from degradation, decomposition and physical disease through phenomena such as age marks, cracks, mold or humidity. As the human body ages, so do the spaces that it inhabits as evidenced by multifold manifestations of the passing of time. Cortez has shown his work in several collective exhibitions internationally. This is his first solo exhibition.