When looking at artistic practices through the scope of the pairing concepts of materiality and immateriality, a central and reconciling notion emerges, that of plastics or plastikos in ancient Greek. If the word refers primarily to the physics of materials or to their inherent properties, it also refers to the transformative action applied to any concrete material such as the technique of modelling wax or clay, of carving stone, wood or bones, or painting a white canvas…
But beyond the reality of the physical matter, of its presence and it’s becoming, plastics or plastikos additionally refers to the creative and performative imagination which operates in the formation of ideas, mental images or feelings. Plastikos is what gives ideas and forms a visual, a material existence, an aesthetics, but it is equally what gives potential forms and ideas an existence at all. Thus, plastics evokes the questions of the malleability and adaptability and therefore concerns both the realm of the physical with its tangibility and sensuality and that of the spiritual and the emotional, which include various interconnected immaterial dimensions such as culture, identity and memory. The evolution towards less substance and more disembodiment via new technologies reveals on the one hand an active emphasis on a purely ethereal visuality and, on the other hand, a strategic focus on the flexibility of the mind and the brain with the sciences of psychological, behavioural and neurological plasticity.
In 1945, Barnett Newman distinguished plastic and plasmic images. According to Newman, while the first reflects the primacy of form, colours and spatial arrangements, the latter favours thought and dreams. Therefore, by digging into the unconscious and by exploring the mysteries of the world, plasmic images directly act on the human psyche. In that perspective, immateriality in arts would not only concern the nature or the absence of a media (performance, installation, conceptual and digital arts, music, film, literature or poetry), but any artistic process that springs from and transforms the invisible essences of life.
We have long been aware that images constantly affect and alter the human body through desire and a wide range of emotions. The emerging field of quantum physics scientifically shows that what we call nature, the physical environment, the body, all palpable matters and objects are interweaved dimensions of a whole system of varying spectra of energetic vibrations. What is an idea or an emotion other than a vibrational frequency that manifests itself materially via the human body and its diversified external expressions? Aspirations, drives and desires continually create and shape our material reality. Thus, the conceptual division between materiality and immateriality seems somehow an abstraction or a shared illusion.
The current gathering of the selected artistic inputs from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds including Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, RDC, Zimbabwe, São Tomé, Burkina Faso, Namibia, Holland, Germany and Brazil, aims at expanding our awareness and deepening our perception of the living, vibrant and rhythmic substantial world.