Originally trained as an architect, Soares is fascinated by space, non-space and the interstices.

Much of Valeska Soares’s work deals with entropy: for example Untitled (from Fall) (1994), a room filled with red roses, ephemeral and temporal metaphors for love and beauty. These flowers faded and are slowly overtaken by death and decay, their heady perfume invading the gallery beyond.

Originally trained as an architect, Soares is fascinated by space, non-space and the interstices. For her project Picturing Paradise (2000) she installed a series of mirrors on the border between the United States and Mexico. The mirrors created illusory openings in the border as well as articulating the ideas presented in Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities – a novel based on two cities, existing side by side, each looking out but only seeing itself reflected. Soares’ interest in reflections extended to her 2002 project Detour, where she created a mirrored room – an endless, looped space, a simple yet striking spectacle of false infinity.

Mirrors, having been set at a slight angle in the space, curved reflected images to one side, where they vanished into the distance while voices emanated from hidden speakers related the story of a shared dream. For the artist the narrative, as well as the reflection and distortion of images, echoed the trichotomy she created – fiction and thought versus reality. What a viewer perceives, how a viewer thinks something is and how it is in reality may be very different.

Occasionally described as having ‘Borgesian inclinations’, Soares’ grand-scale projects engage with a complex nexus of ideas, many of them inked to the effects of time – be that evidenced by gradual decay or by the presence of a temporary physical action. In 2002 Soares produced her first video installation,Tonight, consisting of digitally superimposed images of dancers who meet by chance on screen. Simultaneously using and deconstructing the traditional codes of social dance, the video evoked not only desire but also projection and incompleteness.

The time-based aspect of dance and the recurring motifs of mirrors and light appeared in Soares’ project for International 04. Swirl (2004) took the form of a large mirrored ballroom, illuminated by sparkling chandeliers, and activated by the confident and coordinated movement of dancers. The artist considered the physical space of this extravagant installation to be a folly, a partial reference to the English tradition of buildings created purely for the pleasure of the construction. In an interview with the artist Vik Muniz, Soares says: ‘A folly has no sense to it beyond the pure desire underlined in it’s construction’.

For Soares dance is about dialogue and negotiation, not only with the partner, but with space and those objects that may interrupt that space. Intrigued by the continued interest in social dance, particularly in the north west of England, Soares hinted in Swirl (2004) at the social minefield formal dances can be. Visitors to Tate Liverpool had the opportunity to engage with the project, not only through viewing the performances, but also through a series of planned events. These events were an intrinsic element of the project since people are an important part of Soares’ work, their participation was essential in fully exploring the complex mix of allusions she created.

Swirl, 2004
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at Tate Liverpool



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