Priscila Fernandes - Never Touch the Ground

Priscila Fernandes: Never Touch the Ground 


Shown here at maat ext. Cinema, from 18 January to 28 March 2021. 

Priscila Fernandes 
“Never Touch the Ground”, 2020 
4K video, colour, sound 
11 minutes 26 seconds
Video still 
Courtesy of the artist

Filmed in the centre of Rotterdam and at an amusement park, this short film shows the adventurous and brave endeavours of a TV presenter trying to prove a link between the development of leisure and the emergence of Abstract Art. Her theory explains how modern artists, inspired by the exhilarating leisure activities of the 20th century, started a movement into Abstract Art: they aimed to make art that never touched the ground. 


While tirelessly working on the delivery of such a correlation, absurd as it is, she goes skydiving with paintings, skates through canvases and rides on rollercoasters to make drawings. Even if the correlation doesn’t determine causation, the TV presenter's attempted academic delivery, somewhat fictional, creates the sense that there could not be art without play.  


This work is made possible thanks to CBK Rotterdam, Mondriaan Fund, Creative Tourism and EDP Foundation / maat


Priscila Fernandes

Priscila Fernandes


Priscila Fernandes, video stills from “Never Touch the Ground”, 4K video, colour, sound; 11 min 26 s. With the kind support of CBK Rotterdam and EDP Foundation / maat.



Few artists had as much fun as Priscila Fernandes while creating this work of hers. The artist sent us photographs and videos of her indoor skydiving and hanging out in an amusement park, while we, between Spain and Portugal, were stuck behind our computer screens dealing with an endless barrage of emails.  


One of the most interesting aspects of Priscila’s practice is her capacity for what today is designated as “artistic research”: creating a series of loose historical relationships, which can be formalised in distinct ways. 


The Waterslide of Abstract Art (2018-ongoing) is a large-scale investigation into the relationship between work and leisure and how the former has shaped and influenced our society for centuries. How will we ever resist this tendency which has only become even more exacerbated, with 24/7 digital culture, immaterial labour, and job insecurity? As Priscila Fernandes does things such as ride a rollercoaster or the big wheel of a funfair, we are tuning into the first episode of a new TV show called Never Touch the Ground (2020), a fun look at the historical concept of leisure and the consumer industries that have sprung from it. The artist questions whether the emergence of this leisure culture as part of our working lives since the beginning of the 20th century could have led to new artistic trends and perceptions. Is it a mere coincidence how amusement parks became ever-present simultaneously as the first cinematic works? Could it have been the Game Boy phenomenon, which partially inspired the immersive installations of the 1990s? What ultimately left us in no doubt was how much fun the artist had while filming and exploring an amalgam of different references and concepts related to the theme, not least the crochet works of Joana Vasconcelos and the celebrated Sismofiguras which Mário Cesariny made on moving buses, trams and trains. 


Inês Grosso and Rosa Lleó 

Priscila Fernandes


“The Waterslide of Abstract Art - Chronology of Leisure and Abstract Art” by Priscila Fernandes, 2020.


Priscila Fernandes

  • “Map of the Amusement Park of Abstract Art, Concept for Episode 1: “Never Touch the Ground” by Priscila Fernandes, 2020.




  • “When a Ferris wheel resembles the painting ‘First Disk’ (1913), by Robert Delaunay, Concept for Episode 1: Never Touch the Ground” by Priscila Fernandes, 2020. 

Priscila Fernandes


Priscila Fernandes
  • “When Mário Cesariny goes on a rollercoaster and draws ‘sismo-figuras’, concept for Episode 1: Never Touch the Ground” by Priscila Fernandes, 2020.


Priscila Fernandes


“When the TV-presenter goes skydiving with reproductions of Abstract Art works, Concept for Episode 1: Never Touch the Ground” by Priscila Fernandes, 2020.



  • “Concept for Episode 1: Never Touch the Ground” by Priscila Fernandes, 2020. 

Priscila Fernandes


Priscila Fernandes (1981, Portugal) is a visual artist living and working in Rotterdam. Her practice is rooted in an ongoing research into education, play, and the dialectics between work and leisure. She works in a broad range of media, from video, installation, sound, sculpture, drawing, painting, photography and text. Her work has been exhibited widely: maat (Lisbon, 2019), the 32nd São Paulo Biennial – “Live Uncertainty” (2016), Fundació Joan Miró (Barcelona, 2014), Museo Nacional Reina Sofía (Madrid, 2014), Museu Serralves (Porto, 2014), Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (2014), and Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter (Oslo, 2012), among others. She is the Head of Department of Base for Art, Experiment and Research (BEAR), the Fine Art department at ArtEZ, Arnhem.


The exhibition Um oásis ao entardecer [An oasis at sunset] – a commemorative overview of the EDP Foundation awards’s last twenty years – is also a reaction to the current state of affairs. An unprecedented exhibition which brings together all the winning artists from the two awards, the New Artists Award and the Art Grand Prize, like Álvaro Lapa, Ana Jotta, André Romão, Artur Barrio, Diana Policarpo, Gabriel Abrantes, Joana Vasconcelos, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, Leonor Antunes, among others. Curated by Inês Grosso and Rosa Lleó, with scenography by Diogo Passarinho Studio, and exhibition graphic design by Atlas Projectos, the show is on view at maat (29/10/2020–18/02/2021). 


All images and video © Priscila Fernandes.