The “Naked On Your Lap” Project by Ivo Moreira Bassanti was officially born in Paris in 2010.The art residency held at 59 Rivoli within the scope of the “Arte Ocupa” Project, which was curated by Carlos Henrich, would become the scenario for these wearable art pieces to be shown publicly within a conceptual framework. Nevertheless, this project’s roots have been set a long time before, both as an idea and as practice.

Actually, the first wearable art piece I ever made was at Ateliers de São Paulo in Lisbon, in 1997, and it sort of “made itself” out of a rag-likeshirt which I had been using for years as a cloth to wipe colour off my brushes, not realizing it was in fact a shirt due to the many layers of paint it already had. The shirt was then finished as a stiff painting named “Jackstrasse”, to which a couple of blue and red feathers were added on the collar.

Several pieces were done after that, on and off, whereas the studio practice would develop mostly in the bi-dimensional field, using more traditional mediums such as canvas or paper.

At the first stage of “Arte Ocupa” held in Lisbon in 2010, at Pav.28 (a wing of the psychiatric hospital Julio de Matos, which was turned into an art exhibition venue), the piece called “Five Steps For The Therapy And Blessing Of My Soul” (a 3x10m acrylic on canvas painting) depicts the jeweller Zambeze de Almeida in real size scale amidst a complex landscape of aliens, cartoons, poems and romantic lullabies. She is portrayed wearing three of her wearable art pieces, the central one being a jewel-dress made up entirely of cut out pieces of semi transparent coloured acrylic plates. This approach to wearable art, still done on a bi-dimensional support would set a direction for future pieces and collaboration works with other artists.

 

The Project NAKED ON YOUR LAP got its name in 2010 in Paris, after a Malcolm McLaren song (from the album Paris, released in 1994). It was then that its contours started to shape up in a more visible and conscious way. Issues such as the portability of an art piece, its function or the frames within which an art piece is to be perceived as such would become constant key notes for this research – a humorous, complex and easy going tune that would later on unfold into many different layers and possibilities.

The continuous exploration of new doors and ways for creativity and expression to expand would lead to live performances where poetry, singing, dancing or even cooking on stage would melt with the outfit worn at the time in such a way that the words, the actions, the sounds and the images being shown would all interact and become a continuation of one another.

Is it a sculpture? Is it a bench once it is lying down? What do these names mean, what do they divide into separate fields of action? What happens when you take away the name of things and you set them free from the functions you perceive them to have?

What happens if a jacket that looks like a jacket is made out of paper sheets, which contain manuscript poems on numbered pages of a book, what do we call such an object, if we do call it an object, is it a jacket, a poem or a book, or all of the above, or none of the above?

What is it then?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s…

Yes, we all know who it is. Laurie Anderson was singing about it in the eighties, a long time before the Twin Towers took their fall, long before the day that would change our comprehension of the world as it had been fed to us since childhood.

Translated into day-to-day life, these wearable art pieces would also bring up the subject of who is the possible performer and who is the public; what are the spaces where art is to be seen and how; when does a wearable art piece become public art; when does it become fashion?

What happens if it is framed inside a glass box, or hung on a hanger, or put on a wall, or worn by someone? And what happens if the person who is wearing it is reading poetry out aloud in a gallery or a museum space? Or if he is just whistling while walking the dog in the park? What name can we give these pieces if they are made with materials traditionally associated with the fine arts practice such as canvas or oil paints? What happens if a dress is made out of wood, what is it? Is it a lumberjack’s hard working day with a flair for cross-dressing? Fuel for the iron stove in a countryside house’s winter cold fireplace?

And Child we must remain, seriously playing in the playground of shape and form. When one’s action is focused on rescuing space and time, Time and Silence where one can actually Be Present in Things as they move around, then one can see and know Things for what they are – things, shapes, forms, which will at some point dissolve into the same no-thingness where they came from.

As Child I have continued to work using the word “artist” to express the same paintings I was doing before, and I have added a whole new bunch of words to go along with it. So I say that “my work” has its roots in the search for harmony and beauty, in the pursuit of awareness.

I say that I do not wish to be chained up to ideologies of any sort, whether political, social, artistic or religious and that such a path is the path to finding one’s own path, one’s own teachings, drinking from others’ knowledge and experiences, interacting with them and, nevertheless, striving for a place of freedom and release, a place of no opinion. The only reason to be an artist is to remain free as a child in an adults’ world, to have no one telling you what to do or how to do it.

Therefore, although I have been working full time as an “artist” since the age of 18, I have never engaged in the “art industry” and I have never bowed to its rules or adopted the colours of its neatly wrapped packages. Likewise, I have never voted for any political party, or for any other party, for that matter (with the exception of the ones playing good music and serving quality red wine and munchies), and yeah, vote cabins are too small and being boxed in gives me the creeps!

Questioning the frames within which we end up boxing things in became perhaps one of the most interesting and challenging guidelines of this project. And even this word “project” has now become just another linguistic convention to me. Ultimately, these names and boxes are there just to help setting us free from labels and from the manner how they all condition our minds and refrain us from exploring our ultimate potential. Words and concepts are like software whose major purpose is to enhance the computer’s ability to go beyond the very same programs with which it operates. And before we do become machines it is perhaps wise to start working more with our hearts and less with our minds…

…SO, to keep a long story short (or sort of short), this is what “NAKED ON YOUR LAP” is all about – the free exploration of ones possibilities and potential hand in hand with the potential of the world. In and out, with and without, spirit and matter, sky and ground and so on, plus some unnameable thing that is third to all the above and does not fit within a dual relation of so called opposite poles. It is rather the merging of opposite poles into something else that truly breathes and is fresh and alive.