The work of Pedro Valdez Cardoso (Lisbon, 1974) confronts us with a set of questions that run through the social history of mankind. It would probably be more obvious to talk about human condition, but I believe that, in the work of Pedro Valdez Cardoso, this category is revealed in a series of developments in which his artistic practice is an essential element to the comprehension of some of the interpretation and representation mechanisms the artist uses to produce strong critical statements. On the other hand, this practice is informed by a formal and conceptual lexicon which is difficult to associate with any artistic discipline or aesthetic filiation. Regardless of the topics he addresses in his pieces, they are usually not circumscribed to their topic as an object, but relate to the context in which their topic is inscribed in.
This is the case of the exhibition cada dia (each day), now being presented at the Museu do Dinheiro. Two pieces with the titles “cada dia” (each day) and “em pé” (on my feet) are defined by an austere (but generic) use of the materials, as is usual in the artist’s works. A wagon and a pair of slippers create a temporal and symbolic arch that is reminiscent of religious faith, “Give us today our daily bread.” (Mathew 6:11), “the Lord’s prayer” that has also become a popular idiom. The sackcloth skin wrapped around the wagon and the gold leaf lining the slippers give us the link between the expression of the sacred in human life – bread as the body of Christ – and the vernacular that is the foundation of this universal awareness we identify in “our daily bread”, and whose transmission, from mouth to mouth, translates the value of the food, of work, but also that of scarcity and of means. Poor and noble, these resilient materials offer the viewer an ambiguous dialogue with a pile of gold bread loaves atop the wagon, parked on the choir loft of the old church of São Julião. Once a sacred space, this church was later a garage and is today a museum dedicated to the portrayal of a history of money. The slippers are the memory of the path, of the body that wears them and a sign of an ever transient humanity. The gold transforms them into a relic of the many paths money inscribes on human societies.
These are the reasons why I wrote that, in Pedro Valdez Cardoso’s work, the topic as object opens the context in which it is inscribed into other fields. The work’s overlapping references originate not only in the ones the artist, as a man, puts into his pieces, but also in the ones which exist in and accrue to the history of the place: not just as a connection to the past, but primarily as a reflection on the present.