us Text

    us – 2014

 

Inkjet printing on cotton paper
Suggested scale: 140 x 210 cm

 

I hope that the work contained in this rehearsal is sufficiently expressive and dispenses explanations, however some reflections are necessary, even considering that analyzing photography is to reason a posteriori (post-mortem, Henri Cartier-Bresson would say) through the living filter of the present.

I prefer to name my work “image” rather than “photography”. I have always drawn and painted and consider these as tools for producing images.

Despite working intentionally, the complexity of some images, often only reveals itself over time. In a long journey of more doubts than certainties, I wonder if life is random, a succession of accidents, or if there is meaning(s).

The first memory that I have of buying something for me happened when I was seven years old, when I bought a camera. At that moment I could not afford the film and revelation costs so I could not use it much.

I started studying architecture, but I dropped out of college in the first year. Later, through drawing and painting, I professionalized myself as a painter. Painting was part of my life to the point that I started perceiving the colors of landscapes by association with different inks. However, at one point, this activity no longer satisfied me. Looking for new ways, I went back to university, to the graduation in visual arts at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (a region at the west of Brazil). My dissatisfaction only increased, as the course was not engaging. But, at 2006, living in that region and intending to find a new path, it was the best that I was offered. The photography department was the most airy place. The equipment: cameras and lenses, analog still, had excellent quality. I found in photography more than a path, a pleasure.

A succession of complications took me a little further away from painting; the scale of my works put me in permanent difficulty with logistics and, furthermore, I lost the physical space I had to work. With photography, my space has become the world and the memory card or film I carry with me, in my pocket.

I did my first photographic rehearsal in 2008. At that moment my goal was a formal production. Through the cut, I sought to transform urban scenes into flat and abstract images. I had as reference the North American art of the mid-twentieth century, the post-pictorial abstraction. My intention was to do with a picture what they did with a painting.

However the complexity of the visual capture process led me to another place. I see with my eyes, with my body, with my soul. I am a being immersed in the world. The range of my visual field went beyond the formal compositions provided by the lines and colours of the buildings. The pulsating reality of urban life struck me with an intensity impossible to ignore. Thus, my first photographic rehearsal was a portfolio of elderly people who lived on the streets of the city.

In its realization, I perceived things that, for me, were fundamental, principles that started guiding me. The meaning of everything, the essential, was the relationship I established with the object portrayed. I was not a spectator of a scene to be recorded. Each image demanded an involvement. Before looking through the viewfinder of the camera, I needed to look into the eyes, to talk at length, to know the lives, to hear the stories. Through the photosensitive device I captured life and became part of it. My photography was realized in the experience.

“To do an experience means to let us board in ourselves by what challenge us, entering and submitting to it. We can, thus, be transformed by such experiences, from one day to the next or in the course of time.”
Martin Heidegger

The desire to better understand what was perceived intuitively, made me, once again, go back to study; this time at the University of São Paulo. However, after a few years at the university I feel like when I was looking at the landscapes and seeing the inks, I think of the authors I have read and often doubt that I am the one thinking, maybe I am just processing ideas of others.

Photography is a physical process, a recording of the light effect on a sensitive surface. Just as the steps of a person leave marks on the sand, in the photo remains the traces of what is pictured. In this way, the photographer starts from a physical relation that establishes fundamental unity with the sensible world. But, I ask myself what is the sensible, the real, since reality is relative, depends on the position of each individual within it. As Nietzsche said, “there are no facts, only interpretations”. The photo is not a transformation of reality into picture, but its abstraction. Therefore, my photograph contains the vestiges of what I have seen, revealing my position and, above all, my interpretation. It indicates what I sensibly and rationally see.

“The space … is a space counted from me as zero degree of spatiality. I don’t see it as an outer layer, I see it from within, I am in it. Above all, the world is around me, not in front of me.”
Maurice Merleau-Ponty

The photographer is inside the world and beyond this there is his world. Behind his eyes there is not a white screen, but a complex emotional and imaginary repertoire more or less current, virtual or potential, that is activated or neutralized according to the stimulus. I like when Merleau-Ponty use the term “chair”, flesh; expresses the force of a carnal experience. There is the flesh of the body and the flesh of the world and in each one of them there is an interiority that spreads to the other in a permanent reversibility. Things touch me like I touch them: flesh of the world distinct from my flesh: the double inscription inside and outside, thus overlapping and crossing between the visible and the seer.

The University gave me the opportunity to study in another country. When I travelled, I already had all my credits fulfilled, allowing me greater tranquillity and freedom; I participated in several classes and could take the most out of them.

I produced the images that compose this rehearsal for a class of sociology: Déambulation urbaine pour une quête de sens et inversement. In it, besides the theoretical part, we went for walks around the city. We chose a region, researched it in class, we philosophically discuss it and went out to the city. In a group of about 15 people, a few others and I carried cameras. During several weeks we worked in a neighbourhood that deeply touched me, where I took most of these images. At the end of the course, a classmate that also took pictures in the group showed me her photos: beautiful images of the sky. She told me that nothing in that place had attracted her attention so she decided to look up to the sky.

I have intimately confirmed what I felt since my first rehearsal. Photography is not made at the taking, it is not a point of view nor its representation, neither its impression on the paper, but an aggregation of all the complex relations established between the photographer and the photographed; it is the fruit of the thickness of that meeting, its flesh.

This verse by João Cabral de Melo Neto summarizes much of what I feel:

“…Thick,
because it’s thicker
the life that fights
each day,
the day that is acquired
each day
(like a bird
that goes each second”
conquering its flight).”

I used it as an epigraph in a paper two years ago. The dog without feathers, also speaks of a region, of a river, more than this, of life around this river.

I have already lived in faraway places and with no connexion with the urban centres. Today I live in the city, I walk the streets (remembering Walter Benjamin), I think about my place in the world; this immense, multiform, fragile and chaotic world that actually escapes me. I use the camera as a penetration tool. I photograph in Campo Grande, São Paulo, Paris, in Recife of João. What I seek is independent of the place, but dependent of the intensity of the relationship I establish with it. It is in the thickness of this space that I encounter the density of life, its essence. In the urban substrates that pass through the fissures, in the acts of vandalism, I perceive cries that exude the oxygen of dissatisfaction, of the constant demand of revision of the concepts. I seek experience as a path, making of it my work.

“What I try to translate is more mysterious, it is entangled in the roots of the being, in the impalpable source of sensations.”
Gasquet