The mirror of words
Once upon a time there was a set of poems, images and words that, unintentionally or perhaps not, reflected feelings, anxieties and events common to the life of any of us. From the infinite list that is known as the universal library, we choose books whose common denominator is this object of fascination, the mirror.
Doug Aitken, de Daniel Birnbaum, Amanda Sharp e Jörg Heiser, Phaidon (2001) € 39,95.
Hall of Mirrors. Roy Lichtenstein and the Face of Painting in the 1960s, de Graham Bader, October Books (2010), € 8.
The Magic Mirror of M.C. Escher, de Bruno Ernst, Taschen (2018), € 15.
Sobre os Espelhos e Outros Ensaios, de Umberto Eco, Relógio D’Água (2016), € 15,30.
Beyond The Mirror, de Leif Sandberg, Setanta Books (2018), € 34.
I'll Be Your Mirror: The Collected Lyrics, de Lou Reed, Hachette Books (2020), € 39,95.
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, de Mika Yoshitake e Alexander Dumbadze, Prestel (2017), € 45,95.
Mirror Mirror, de Ryan McGinley, Rizzoli Electra (2018), € 54.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, de Oscar Wilde, Penguin Books (2008), € 16,82.
Picasso and Photography: The Dark Mirror, de Anne Baldassari, Flammarion (1997), € 35.
The mirror of movies
Mirror, mirror ... The mirror is as friendly to the main actor, and to his vanity, as it is to the director, who uses it to create different perspectives and tricks that we can only perceive with the help of the rewind button. In this very short list can be found the film that reflects your life, or the one that transports you to a brand new world.
In cinema, as in any other art, mirrors are used as objects of manipulation. When it comes to the seventh art, they are the ones that clarify moments, that accentuate moments through their reflection, and that allow to reach points of contrast, comparison, distortion, as well as climax, the ones who end up solving the action - and that present characters. Such is the case with films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), where the Evil Queen repeatedly looks in the mirror to ask if there is anyone more beautiful than she, Taxi Driver (1976), where the protagonist, Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, repeats the phrase “You talkin’ to me?” in a spiral of madness, or Nightcrawler (2014), where Louis Bloom, a magnificent Jake Gyllenhaal, has what popular culture has become accustomed to labeling a “mental breakdown” in front of the mirror - the scene is so intense that the actor cut himself during filming and had to be hospitalized. In what is considered one of the best horror movies of all time, The Shining (1980), Stanley Kubrick uses the mirror as an instrument to incite fear, to project reflexes, and to bring out hidden messages about each of the characters in the story. The same happens in Black Swan (2010), where mirrors play a predominant role in the action - they are present in most of the scenarios, expanding a dimension of madness. Immersed in a numbness of paranoia and obsession, ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman, who won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance) is constantly in doubt as to what is real and what she imagines. Such is the importance of mirrors in cinema, that there is, in fact, the term "complex mirror shots", which can be defined as the filmic complexities and the effects that mirrors can have in the way a spectator interprets a scene. An example? Inception (2010), a visual orgy by Christopher Nolan, or the entire Black Mirror series (2011-2019). Everything is possible. Just turn off the lights and shout "action", or better, press play.
The mirror of imagination
In troubled times, it’s by the dream that we go, even if everything seems impossible. Therefore, let us hold on to the exhibitions that allow us to imagine the reflection of a brighter future.
Since the 1960s that Yayoi Kusama (Matsumo, Japan, 1929) has been gaining prominence in the international art scene thanks to her vast work, which reaches such different areas as painting, sculpture, installation and fashion design. After a long wait, one of her best-known (and applauded) works, Infinity Mirrored Room - Filled with the Brilliance of Life and Chandelier of Grief, arrives at Tate Modern, London, UK. The exhibition, which will be on display at The George Economou Gallery, will present Kusama's fascinating imagery to the public, as well as videos and photographs (some of them unpublished) of the first pieces made by the artist, offering a historical context to her most recent works. A unique experience where it will be possible to experience the infinite reflections that are created in Kusama's inexhaustible mind. Curated by museum director, Frances Morris, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms, opens on March 29, 2021 and will be on display until March 27, 2022. More information at tate.org.uk.
This multimedia installation, which extends over two thousand square meters, uses the main characteristics of the building where it is held (Reservatório da Mãe d’Água, near Amoreiras, in Lisbon), creating a colorful spectacle that starts in the water mirror, crosses the columns, and ends up in the vaulted ceiling. The 360º light projections create a virtual show, where there is a new interpretation of famous works of art, from Monet's impressionism to Klimt's romantic art. A production by Atelier Ocubo, made in partnership with Museu da Água and EPAL, where, from the artists' paintings, other perspectives are unveiled and the themes of their works are explored. An immersive experience that seeks to show the other side of the frame, like the eternal search for light, so typical of Monet, or the romantic dazzle of Klimt. Impressive Monet & Brilliant Klimt can be seen until February 28, 2021. More information at lisboa.immersivus.com.
The mirror of the world
There are images that are worth a thousand words. But there are magical places to which not even a thousand images can do justice. Because you need to see them, live. We choose those you really have to visit (not now, it’s true, maybe in the near future), because the brightness of its mirrors gives them an aura that is impossible to forget.
Cloud Gate, Anish Kapoor, Chicago, United States of America. The enormous sculpture, made of 110 tons of stainless steel, created by the artist Anish Kapoor, is recognized worldwide as the “bean” and one of the main monuments of the city of Chicago. It is located in the center of AT&T Plaza, in the Millennium Park, and its ten meters high reflect the entire surrounding landscape, attracting crowds of onlookers who can “touch” the piece and observe its image in the depth of the gigantic mirror. Maraya Building, Florian Boje, Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia. The Maraya building (Maraya means “mirror”, in Arabic), was designed by designer Florian Boje, from the Giò Forma studio, and inspired by the surrounding environment, the architecture and the art of the country's civilizations. It is a cultural space, awarded in several categories for its unique shape and impact - 9,740 square meters and 26 meters high - and in 2019 entered Guinness as the largest mirrored building in the world. Mirage Gstaad, Doug Aitken, Gstaad, Switzerland. This installation by Doug Aitken is, in fact, a house entirely covered with mirrors, which reflects a harmony between the natural environment and the building. Entrance is free and inside you can also find mirrored objects, which promotes a sensory experience that unites the outside with the inside. Blockhaus Réfléchir, Leffrinckoucke, France. The defensive structure, built by the German army, had been abandoned since World War II. In 2014 it gained a new image, being conceived as land art by the artist Anonyme (no, the name is not a mistake). Since then, it has become one of the most visited works in the area, largely due to the beauty provided by the impact of the thousands of small pieces of mirrors that, together, create a surface that reflects the sea and the sky, keeping alive the memory of the events who took place there at the time of that world conflict.
Translated from the original on Vogue Portugal's The Mirror issue, published january 2021.