“Carlos Amorales. Black Cloud” - an amazing art installation, now on display at MNAC Bucharest

September 15, 2023 | Cosmina Marcela OLTEAN ArtPage

Mexican artist Carlos Amorales brings to Romania a part of his enchanting world. Thousands of black butterflies took refuge in the Marble Hall at MNAC Bucharest.

An art space in the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest is dedicated to an amazing art installation, entitled "Black Cloud", inspired by the story of the migration of monarch butterflies.
Photo credit - MNAC
The unique creation contains up to 25,000 hand-made black paper butterflies, inspired by 30 different species.

This surreal gathering of butterflies and moths, created between 2007-2018, brings the raw beauty of nature into the museum, in a sight which is both wondrous and foreboding. Artist Carlos Amorales describes the insects as a ‘plague’, which rises to envelop the viewer. (1)

The art installation has traveled the world, being displayed in many art galleries, shops, and even churches and trams. Now it is located in Bucharest. “A sea of black butterflies invites the viewer to explore the interplay between fantasy and reality in the Marble Hall of MNAC Bucharest. <<Black Cloud>> serves as a cautionary tale, going back to the British Industrial Revolution of the mid-19th century. During that period, rampant coal combustion cast a somber environmental shadow, triggering a natural selection process favoring black moths in cities. Prior to industrialization, light-colored moths thrived, camouflaged against pale trees and pristine walls. However, coal soot, widespread in northern England, spawned a new dark moth variety. As pollution ebbed with clean air regulations, the lighter moth form returned, possibly signaling the dark moths' impending extinction, revealing nature's vulnerability to industrialization's impacts”, we learn from MNAC (2).

“A famous Chinese parable tells us that Zhuangzi fell asleep and dreamt he was a butterfly. When he woke up, he didn't know whether he was really the man who dreamt of the butterfly or the butterfly who now dreams that it is a man. Which would you choose: man or butterfly? How does fantasy work when you're surrounded by a cloud of black butterflies? When you identify with a butterfly, how do you perceive yourself from the outside?

The butterfly or moth has a strong symbolic charge in understanding our subjectivity and fears: from the butterfly effect in chaos theory to the traditional representation of the soul or the undead (striga/molia), from the Greek term for butterfly (psychē) to the moth and lamp memes.

The black cloud, the sublime manifestation of the monstrosity that haunts us all, plays in everyone's mind with real fictions, fears, desires and forbidden places. Amorales creates an alternative world that transforms in every space, encouraging new forms of interpretation. Together we will take his proposal further and performatively explore the dark clouds of butterflies within each." (MNAC)

Since 1998, Carlos Amorales has been gathering a digital collection of vector images depicting various elements like birds, spiders, trees, and wolves. Titled Archivo Líquido (Liquid Archive), the images are sourced from books, magazines, downloaded from the internet, or from the artist's own captures, in order to be transformed into black, often hybridized, silhouettes. “Black Cloud” is the tangible 3D translation of the archive, materializing its capacity to evoke fear into a powerful installation.

From the initial idea, inspired by a dream, Mexican artist Carlos Amorales invites us to follow the journey of an installation that has travelled around the world and metamorphosed over the past almost 15 years.

Using his extensive collection of digital images, titled Archivo Líquido (Liquid Archive), Carlos Amorales recreates 36 moth varieties as thousands of life-sized, black paper cut-outs in his “Black Cloud” installation. Meticulously hand-glued to both walls and ceiling, the intricate creations have been transforming spaces across the world since 2007 into a breathtaking display. The dark swarm has set Bucharest as its home for the summer of 2023, via Timișoara, where it poetically infests a tram line.

“In his Black Cloud installation, Amorales embraces ambiguity, blurring the boundaries between beauty and wonder, good and bad, serenity and chaos. The artwork prompts imagination to reconcile diverse interpretations, calling upon mediation of enigmatic narratives.

Carlos Amorales' haunting paper butterflies reveal the ominous reality of their extinction, evoking an imbalanced and delicate ecosystem. With blackened wings as a forewarning, “Black Cloud” invites us to confront the escalating devastation of invertebrate populations disrupted by climate change.

Amidst the shadows of thousands of insects, you’ll find a mesmerizing blend of beauty and awe, fantasy and darkness, serenity and chaos. “Black Cloud” showcases esteemed Mexican artist Carlos Amorales' gothic sensibility, while untamed nature's raw allure finds its place within the museum's walls” (MNAC).

The exhibition “Carlos Amorales. Black Cloud”, part of the ArtEncounters Biennial, “My Rhino is Not a Myth: art science fictions” (Timișoara, 19.05.-17.07.2023), can be seen in the Marble Hall on the ground floor of the museum until October 1st, 2023.
Based on "Black Cloud", a satellite exhibition of the 2023 ArtEncounters Biennial, Mihai Lukács, together with Răzvan Leucea, also presented a video-performance workshop "Butterflies in the Head, Butterflies in the Stomach".

More about the artist

Carlos Amorales  works in a variety of media, including video, animation, painting, drawing, sculpture, and performance. He is a multidisciplinary artist who studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. His most extensive researches are Los Amorales (1996-2001), Liquid Archive (1999-2010), Nuevos Ricos (2004-2009), and a typographic exploration in junction with cinema (2013–present).

He has participated in residencies with Atelier Calder, Saché, France (2012); Mac/Val, Val-de-Marne, France (2011); and the Smithsonian Artists Research Fellowship, Washington, D.C. (2010). (3)

Știri și povești din lumea artei, a jurnalismului și turismului cultural. Recenzii de expoziții, prezentări de film și file de călătorie.

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