“The Broken Shell of the Hermit Crab”
              Bruno Marchand
              Seclusion, misanthropy, and asceticism came to my mind when I first saw the title of curator Samuel Leuenberger’s group show at Galeria Vera Cortês, featuring the work of four international artists. Contrary to my initial belief, however, the hermit crab does not get its name from being a loner but by virtue of its appropriation of empty shells to protect the soft parts of its body. Dragging its makeshift armor along as its body grows, there are times when the hermit crab requires a bigger, safer, better shell—the kind of strategy and necessity on which many of the routines, expectations, and symbolic exchanges of capitalist societies are based. The arrangement of works in Vera Cortês’s otherwise sparsely occupied gallery results in a feeling of congestion. Four meters in length, Teresa Solar’s Nut (2018) is primarily responsible for this effect. Based on the stylization of a nude elongated female figure lying on one side, painted pale orange, and decorated in star-shaped circus patterns, it draws a diagonal line through the middle of the gallery’s main room, establishing a barrier that is both physical and conceptual. The pieces distributed on either side of this body-come-bench form two distinct constellations: clean-cut, allegorical, two-dimensional on …

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