The invisible life

23 April - 17 July 2022

The invisible life

12 artists

With Rita Barros, Carla Cabanas, Bárbara Fonte, Ana Janeiro, Manuela Marques, Brígida Mendes, Rita Castro Neves, Margarida Paiva, Ção Pestana, Graça Sarsfield, São Trindade et Júlia Ventura

Curated by : Raquel Guerra

In the last decades of the 20th century, gender studies mainly focused on artistic practices and theories imagined and created by women. Numerous women authors and artists studied in depth and developed on questions that established their intentions and reflected their beliefs. However their body of work, ideas and thoughts are still not widely known. 

In this context - and curious about the Portuguese scene - the CPIF invited Raquel Guerra* to consider the question. The resulting exhibition, The Invisible Life (whose title was inspired by “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao” by Brazilian author Martha Batalha) presents the work of twelve Portuguese women artists from different generations who use photography in their practice and work with images in the widest sense of the term.

Eva deja de ser costilla (Eva stops being a rib)**


Invisibility is an artificial construct. Let’s consider that our understanding of reality is situated somewhere between what we can observe and the set of values that mean something is actually visible. As such, it is clear that invisibility results from the non-recognition of one person by another for cultural reasons. Contrary to blindness, invisibility is not a physical affliction.

In a contemporary society that is characterised by an insatiable appetite for all things visual, being invisible tends to mean one is insignificant or non-existent. Invisibility either results from a deliberate and conscious decision, or from a subconscious action that is the result of a deeply rooted, structural and almost universally accepted social construction. Contemporary society perpetuates a model of female invisibility. More often than not, it falls to women to adopt a role in relation with their supposedly “natural qualities”. Confronted with an essentially masculine model of action, power and strength, women are still expected to show a certain degree of submission and passivity. A quasi-paternalistic perspective of their body seen from a solely reproductive viewpoint credits the idea that women are unable to think or take action, thereby making them invisible.

Emancipation and social visibility are some of the key points addressed in feminist studies. Women’s right to bodily integrity; the right to express our opinion of (or vision for) the world and the desire to no longer live in the shadow of men drove us to take part in a struggle that we Portuguese women continue to fight. The Invisible Life is a reflection on the female condition and the status of the woman artist in Portugal, a country where the most basic gender rights are still far from being respected.

This exhibition brings together works by Rita Barros, Carla Cabanas, Bárbara Fonte, Ana Janeiro, Manuela Marques, Brígida Mendes, Rita Castro Neves, Margarida Paiva, Ção Pestana, Graça Sarsfield, São Trindade and Júlia Ventura. It embraces the notion of identity and the self-portrait as a means for reconstructing one’s own identity and how women artists question their own condition by representing other women. Finally it engenders a metaphorical exchange about this notion of invisibility. The Invisible Life aims to illustrate the strength of women and, in so doing, strives to counter the invisible life that is often forced upon us and demonstrate that we are so much more than one of Adam’s ribs.

Raquel Guerra

* Raquel Guerra was in residence at the CPIF in 2021.

**An extract from the song Eva by Silvio Rodriguez, 1989


Around the exhibition

• Vernissage Saturday 23nd April at 3 pm

Events in the presence of the artists and curator :

3 - 4 pm : Inauguration

4 - 5 pm : Performance by Ana Janeiro

5 - 6.30 pm : Panel discussion with the artists and curator

Free shuttle from Paris (Place de la Bastille). Reservation required.

01 70 05 49 80 /


Partenaires du projet

Ce projet est soutenu par la Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian - Délégation en France, qui l’a cofinancé dans le cadre du programme EXPOSITIONS GULBENKIAN pour soutenir l’art portugais au sein des institutions artistiques françaises.

Projet conçu par Raquel Guerra lors de sa résidence internationale au CPIF en 2021 ayant reçu le soutien de la ville de Porto.


Graça Sarsfield, Sans titre #2, from the Nem 3 dias o Mundo vê passar series, 2021, pigment ink print from a scanned negative, 82 x 100 cm, courtesy Graça Sarsfield


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