by Shraddha NairMay 05, 2021
Inspired by the golden touch of a famous mythological Phrygian king, 'Through Midas' Eyes' is an installation created by Moradavaga for the three-year anniversary celebration of Casa da Arquitectura - the Portuguese Center for Architecture. Located in Matosinhos, a municipality towards the north of Porto, this museum and cultural venue occupies a block that was once part of a wine production facility known as the Real Vinícola. Moradavaga used the structure as a backdrop for its multifunctional, interactive installation that operates as both a perception modifying isolated geometrical exercise as well as a set design for a dance performance.
Currently based out of Kaltern/Caldaro in Italy, and Porto city in Portugal, Moradavaga - derived from a contraction of the Portuguese word for 'vague address' - is a collective formed by the partnership between architects Manfred Eccli and Pedro Cavaco Leitão. Active since 2006, the practice's diverse body of work lies at the intersection of art, design and architecture. They contemplate the problems of vacant spaces, derelict buildings, and the activation of the public realm by developing performative objects and active interventions. These include social workshops, competitions, and architectural events, which function as 'dormant tools' in waiting - requiring engagement from users for their activation.
The installation's title draws upon the legend of King Midas - a man granted the power to turn anything he touched into gold by Dionysius. This extraordinary ability, which at first seemed a blessing to the monarch, eventually came to be viewed by him as a curse on discovering that he could not eat or drink anything without inadvertently turning it to gold.
With the aid of six mobile upright triangular black prisms covered by a golden mirror on one surface, the installation displays a symbolic parallel between Midas' plight and the situation we currently find ourselves in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the risks and subsequent fears of contagion that have taken over the world, previously considered ordinary gestures of greeting - affection, human contact, and the overlying concept of social interaction - are now subject to stringent restrictions.
'Through Midas' Eyes' endeavours to transform the perception of a viewer with a 'golden filter' accompanied by an endless series of dynamic mirror games. The installation's prism-shaped elements can take on several configurations that reflect different levels of confinement - from the installation's initial polygonal arrangement to more linear, abstract orientations. Its mirrors create infinite variations of shadows and reflections that impart a golden hue to the surroundings in the process.
A dance performance, developed and choreographed in collaboration with the Academia de Dança de Matosinhos, and choreographer Sara Silva, uses the installation and its background of the museum's exterior to convey some of the lifestyle changes that we have had to accommodate over the last year.
Four dancers participate in a 'physical dramaturgy' that depicts the hygiene and sanitation measures adopted during the pandemic alongside characteristics of the new normal for socialisation, borne out of restricted public gatherings, isolation and lockdowns. Employing the methods of gestures, movements, body language, and costume design, the performers elucidate how the tragedy of Midas embodies our present inability to express ourselves through touch.
Name: Through Midas' Eyes
Location: Matosinhos, Portugal
Collaboration: Academia de Dança de Matosinhos
Choreography: Sara Silva
Costumes Design: Diana Amaral
Dancers: Francisca Branco, Marta Saraiva, Miguel Pinheiro, Rita Saraiva
Partner: Cavaco & Coquet, Lda
Drone footage: PROPÓSITO | projectos