Carlos Noronha Feio’s broad, often itinerant practice includes actions, performance, video, drawing, painting, photography, collecting, sound, rug works and installation. He manipulates, juxtaposes or re-sites media as poetical research into cultural, local and global identity. His re- inscription of often iconic images and symbols seeks to invite altered readings of culture at large while demonstrating the arbitrary nature of interpretation.
The display at SE8 includes works made across a timespan of several years comprising various mediums, though the exhibition does not set out to act as a retrospective. Rather, it began, prosaically, with works left in storage in a lockup in South London, the city where the artist had studied and lived for a considerable period. These material objects instigated a dialogue between the artist and the curators Nicola Oxley and Nicolas de Oliveira, and, in turn, led to the addition of further works from his Lisbon studio. Therefore, what began as a sliver of the artist’s practice, cut by the knife of chance, evolved into a serendipitous project, punctuated by new constellations of things.
Among these are printed silk fabric pieces and other items from ‘Matter of Trust’, his collection of alternative currency; while not legal tender, they can function as means of payment by exchanging parties and range from emergency currency issued after WW1 and promissory notes that can be exchanged for labour, to adulterated and overprinted banknotes and artists’ multiples.
The rugs – inspired by Afghan War rugs from the 20 th Century, as well as the legacy of pioneering artist Alighiero Boetti who worked closely with local craftsmen in the country from the 1970s on his carpets and embroideries – present a world dominated by images of struggle, warfare, and technological conquest and are produced using old stitching techniques at the Arraiolos workshop in Central Portugal.
The paintings and collages relating to the pacific regions of the world are based on the artist’s research of Western influence on native cultures. Digital photographs are marked with layers of abstracted forms representing dispositifs (so-called apparatuses) to embellish and subvert the image beneath, and in doing so, question the subject – revealing the tensions present in its construction. Here, the artist uses the strictures and rules of art as a hermetic system that
comments on itself, while exerting a powerful influence upon the reception of culture.
The title of the exhibition My Head is my only House unless it rains is taken from Don van Vliet’s eponymous song, and featured on the album Clear Spot, by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band released in 1972, and is suggestive of a dynamic, peripatetic practice taken from place to place, hermetic, yet open to the persuasion of the elements.