Miguel Palma casts a removed and ironical eye on the art world and the artist’s status. His installations are organized as complex systems combining constructions of moving machines, videos, cameras and documents of different kinds. They re-think the notions of power, ideology, and technological progress, linking back up with the tradition of the artist-cum-engineer, in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci, Tatlin, and Panamarenko. Palma is also heir to Marcel Duchamp’s “bachelor machines” and Alfred Jarry’s “pataphysics” , with the science of imaginary solutions replacing the reality of the world with ironical “decoys”. The infernal and dreamlike machines created by the artist are intended to upset our grasp of reality, as is illustrated by Autofocus (2006), where Palma refers to Google Earth satellite images. In 1993, he invented a prototype vehicle called Engin, a grey racing car straight out of a science fiction film, whose first journey was made between Lisbon and Porto. The project was subsequently shown both in art venues (the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon) and at the International Automobile Show in 1994. L’oeil magique (1992-93) raises the issue of the paradoxical appearance of an image (a waterfall) in a mysterious structure more than seven metres in length. In 1995, the artist singled out the issue of pollution with Ecosystème, whose imperturbable cycle of rejecting and absorbing the dust in the depths of the machine merely revealed an autistic mechanism feeding a world devoid of any trace of dwelling.
The Portuguese artist Miguel Palma lives and works in Lisbon. Since 1988, many solo exhibitions of his work have been held in Portugal, Europe, and the United States, and a major monograph was published in 2005. The CCC in Tours put on his first major solo show in France in 1997. He has had artist’s residencies in the United States (2009), at the Ilidio Pinho Foundation (2007-08), and at the Camões Institute (2007) in Portugal. In 2007-2008, he designed the sets for the radio play RadiOthello by the author Alvaro Garcia de Zuniga (2008). In 2009, he took part in the exhibition Acclimatation at the Villa Arson, and in 2011, Lisbon’s Contemporary Art Centre held one of his major solo shows.