Grapefruit by Ana Margarida Matos (Mini Kus! #117)

Grapefruit plays a bit like classic contemporary art, in that the aesthetic seems to recontextualize seemingly disparate found objects and juxtapose them to reveal additional meaning. This tension often found in modern gallery settings appears on the page, with hints of an interactive experience – the book is, in fact, eventually billed as a “book of instructions,” pulling the audience in to be part of the exhibit, not merely observe passively. The tension extends into the comics medium, as Matas seems to be playing with the form, examining how text and images are not actually separate entities, but parts of a whole that push the narrative – just as we must consciously, intentionally inhabit our own narrative in life. This extends again from the theoretical juxtaposition of found objects, to comic book components as an example, to real people as they exist off the page. There’s a line later in the book that seems to hone in on the thesis: “I am the interspace. The gutter.” If you’re reading this review, odds are you may be fairly well-versed in comics parlance; the “gutter” here referring to that liminal space between panels where actions and closure can occur in the mind’s eye of the reader. When Matas proffers “I exist without knowing it,” we can ask ourselves if we’re ever fully, truly, engaged and present in the moment? Are we self-aware about the meaning it provides? Most people are good at recalling the past or anticipating the future, but not as adept at being in the now. At times, it feels like we’re just mindlessly drifting along, bridging one part (the past) to the next (the future), without sensing our role in the present, existing only in that interspace, in the gutter. In that sense, Grapefruit plays like a wake-up call to be physically, emotionally, and intellectually present in whatever you’re currently doing, at each individual moment of engagement.


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