“Promessa de Cera” (Wax promise) is a staged re-enactment of collective trauma as a physical memory. Inspired by the events of the Pedrógão Grande Wildfires (Portugal) in 2017, which took the lives of 66 people, injured 250, and destroyed nearly 500 homes. The installation is comprised of wax sculptural copies of objects taken from the scene of the national road N-236, where 47 of the victims were either suffocated or burnt alive by the flames. The event was preceded by a series of shortcomings and failures to mitigate environmental risks and proper evacuation procedures.
The wax objects serve as physical triggers. They emulate materials like rubber and metal, which are often perceived as durable, but are instead subverted into fragility; rendered impermanent, and inevitably melting away unless they are actively cared for.
Illuminated by spotlights and placed on pedestals, the objects are re-arranged by performers throughout the duration of the exhibition, acting as stagehands for processing such an event, which is in constant displacement. The work becomes an act of remembering and re-mapping the traumatic as a collective and deeply ingrained experience, questioning the infrastructures of safety we believe keep us secure and how we cope when they fail us.