Due to the pandemic, Vhils was unable to travel to London to create his site-specific works for disCONNECT. So instead, the original doors from the library were dismantled, packed and shipped to his studio in Lisbon, whilst the city was still in lock down, where he created remotely using his bas-relief carving technique his Omnipresence Series, transforming the house’s library doors. The set of portraits carved directly onto the old library doors are very simple pieces that play with the house's material and immaterial heritage, its fabric and texture, its history, making symbolically visible that which lies beneath the surface of things, inviting viewers to reflect on the intimate relationship between people and the places they live in.
As for people that are portrayed on those pieces, Vhils normally portraits anonymous figures that are symbolically becoming "everyday heroes". He bases those portraits on series of photographs that he takes while travelling to different cities around the world. This is part of his ideology and interest in "global city" where he finds connections between cities and their inhabitants, giving them new meaning and allowing their portraits to travel through different media and appear in collections or walls around the world.
‘The stand-up piece with carved billboard posters is part of an ongoing body of works, exploring the concept of reciprocal shaping and seeking to reflect on how human identity is both formed and conditioned by the city's imposing visual discourse present in its public spaces. Carving into these thick layers brings an assortment of random elements to the surface creating a physical manifestation of the constantly evolving visual identity of urban life.
Each of these artworks depicts an anonymous person, someone all of us can identify with, representative of the way in which we interact with the forces shaping our contemporary world’ (Vhils, 2020).
Click here to see a short clip of Vhils’ works installed in the house.