Alena Alexandrova
João Norton de Matos SJ
Rosa Maria Mota
Moderated by Kadri Mälk
17 September, Friday
«Unclaimed Images», 2021. Ongoing project by Alena Alexandrova and Johannes Schwartz
FREEZE! Images are still. Sometimes they have the power to pause us, to make us still. Fixed to our place, we are reduced to the act of looking, we become petrified. One could say that in this moment we become an image. The story of fear, freezing, and petrification is a fertile visual motif is associated with the mythical Medusa, the beautiful, or very ugly monster decapitated by Perseus. This story puts together the gaze, decapitation, frontality, averting of the gaze, invisibility. It is also a motif of production of images as a result of intense fear. Medusa’s gaze maintains its power to petrify even after her death. Her face is persistently depicted as frontal, and frontality is a mode a direct address of the viewer. A daring address, she dares us to look and freeze, or we have to avert our gaze, avoid hers, and stay alive. It is a story of the gaze of images and of our emotional entanglement with them, of the deadly spell of looking. It is also a story of carrying the head around as a weapon that simultaneously kills and makes images. Sounds familiar? This is a story of something that belongs to photography – the image produced in the interiority of an apparatus whose blank gaze freezes living things into still images. Medusa’s head, or the gorgoneion appears on armour, architecture, jewellery, clothing, pottery. This motif and its transformation into an object that can be worn, marks simultaneously our desire for protection, and acknowledges our fear. It is also a motif of iconopoiesis, a special moment of instantaneous creation of images that does need a hand to shape, mould or form. The two contemporary protagonists that will be discussed in the talk are the photographic act, and our desire to wear objects on the body, which among other things, is still our archaic desire for protection.  
ALENA ALEXANDROVA (Amsterdam) is a cultural theorist and an independent curator based in Amsterdam. She lectures at the Fine Arts and Photography departments, Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. She holds a PhD from the University of Amsterdam. Currently she is writing a book Anarchic Infrastructures: Re-Casting the Archive, Displacing Chronologies. She is the author of Breaking Resemblance. The Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art.  (Fordham University Press, 2017) and has published internationally in the fields of aesthetics, performance and visual studies, and regularly contributes to art publications and catalogues. She has curated exhibitions around the conceptual figure of anarcheology. Previously she taught  at the Master of Fine Arts, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen, Norway and  the Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem. She was a visiting researcher at the Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University, Atelier Holsboer, Cité des Arts, Paris, and a guest lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg.
JOÃO NORTON DE MATOS (Lisbon, 1963) became a member of the Society of Jesus in 1990 and was ordained a priest in 2002. Guest assistant professor of Aethetics and Theology at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, he also works at Brotéria (its journal and cultural centre) and is the parish priest of Igreja da Encarnação, Lisbon. In 2018 he defended his doctoral thesis in fundamental theology - on the modern crisis in sacred art - at the Centre Sévres, Facultés jésuites de Paris, where he completed the second cycle in the same field of studies after earning a licentiate degree at the Faculdade de Teologia da Universidad Pontificia de Comillas in Madrid. He earned a DEA in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art at the Université catholique de Louvain, after completing a licentiate degree in Philosophy from the Faculdade de Filosofia de Braga da Universidade Católica Portuguesa and a licentiate degree in Architecture from the Faculdade de Arquitetura da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa. He did a course in artistic drawing at Ar.Co – Centro de Arte e Comunicação Visual, in Lisbon.
Rosa Maria Mota: «Amulet», c. 1960, Suspension ring for amulets by Fernando Martins Pereira Lda. And religious medals of various origins inserted by the owner (gold, enamel and organic materials), Ø c. 5 cm. Courtesy and collection of Ourivesaria Quilate, Viana do Castelo. Photo: Vítor Roriz
the night comes restless with cyclical winds, fishes sparkle on the bedroom walls,
I sleep on water, and I feel fear (...)  
A noite chega-me, Al Berto in O Medo
Fear is inherent to the human nature. If, on the one hand, it was fear that allowed species to survive, on the other, many architectural fears served as a means of population control. In addition to these, there are cyclic fears, which, with different intensity, frighten us all: the fears of diseases, pests, penury, unhappiness, everything that threatens and destroys us and over which we have no control. And there are also fears of the irrational, of ghosts, of evil eyes and of witchcraft, based on ancestral myths that pass from generation to generation and that form the imaginary and magical sense of each society.To combat all fears that plagued man, amulets have always been used. Despite the traditional Portuguese culture being strongly conditioned by Catholicism, the pieces of a religious nature were mixed with others that conveyed magical beliefs and all were used together with the ornaments of the human figure. The meaning and mystical power of these amulets would be linked to the apotropaic materials, forms and their inherent symbology, and, for centuries, against all odds, appeased atavistic fears.
ROSA MARIA MOTA (Lousada, Porto, 1959) is a researcher at CITAR–Center for Research in Science and Technology of the Arts, at the Catholic University of Portugal. At the same University, and as a scholarship holder of the Foundation for Science and Technology, she obtained a PhD and a Master's degree, after graduating in Art and Heritage. Her research work focuses on traditional gold jewellery and its path, in the 19th and 20th centuries, in Northern Portugal. On the subject, has published books articles and has been a speaker in congresses in Portugal, Spain and Brazil. She was a guest professor at the Portuguese Catholic University, produced videos and participated in documentaries and television programs related to her research. 
KADRI MÄLK (Tallinn, 1958) iniciou os seus estudos de Pintura na Tartu Kunstiakadeemia em 1977, e formou-se na Eesti Kunstiakadeemia, em 1986, com a professora Leili Kuldkepp. Entre 1986 e 1993 trabalhou como artista independente. Em 1993, entrou para o Instituto de Design de Lahto, na Finlândia, para estudar Gemologia com Esko Timonen e completou os seus estudos no atelier de lapidação de Bernd Munsteiner na Alemanha. Colabora com a Eesti Kunstiakadeemia desde 1989 e é diretora e professora no departamento de joalharia desde 1996. Realizou numerosas exposições, a solo e coletivas, e proferiu conferências, tanto na Estónia como internacionalmente. E a sua obra integra várias coleções públicas e privadas. Autora e editora de livros e textos sobre joalharia desde os anos 1990, incluindo: Millennium (1994, 1997), Kadri Mälk (2001), Metal 1, 2, 3 (1999, 2004, 2014), Twilight (2005), Chroma/Monochroma (2006), Just Must (2008), Õhuloss (2011), a edição especial sobre joalharia (2005, 2012) e os livros de artista Testament (2016) e HUNT: Kadri Mälk’s Jewellery Collection (2020). É joalheira de profissão e metafisíca por ocupação. A marca estética de Kadri é negra, esotérica, poética e sobrenatural. Uma das suas paixões é colecionar joalharia. Vive e trabalha na Estónia.