Maria Eduarda Duarte - Seeing the first frame of this video with a hole, like a well or a cave, made me think like an archaeologist. That can also be related to the "excavation work" that you’ve done for this video, searching your archive, could you please share your thoughts on this process of returning to old footages and creating new work with them?
Joana Patrão - I really like that analogy, I like how an archaeological approach convokes both the materiality of the earth and the act of entering it while it is a way of digging history. There is a very tangible relation between the layers of sediment and the layers of history.
In this project, the process was quite peculiar as it was not about producing something new from scratch but to dig for things that were put aside for some reason. It was a slow process of going through the archives of other projects or footage of casual phenomena that I felt the urge to record. The process of isolating and combining was a very intuitive one as I was not searching for something in specific, it just allowed me to revisit the places and times where that footage was made. It was a kind of voyage (maybe more like a drift). Going from one place to another, to one folder to the next, picking a few recordings that resonated somehow. This process gave me great liberty to work, merging places from afar, and thinking of the new combination of images as a place in themselves.
Looking at my choices I started realizing there were some recurrent images, archetypes. Elementary images shared by many cultures from different places and times. This video happens in the subsoil, maybe also in the sublayers of experience and shared imagination.
MED - In the video, there is shadow and light, there is immersion and matter, a past written in stone, and in all this an almost meditative and transcendental lightness. In your works, I often find a narrative dictated by time, a slow and long time. How is this reflection on time decisive in the construction of your stories and investigations?
JP - In this case, and even though the video is very short, I am precisely trying to address that slow and long time, an idea of a cycle, something that keeps happening beyond our presence. I also thought of a place where the dichotomies are fluid, the micro and the macro are interchangeable, the water is stone and the stone is water.
Also, the idea of a past written in stone is really important. In a way, it is about acknowledging other kinds of participation in the world, acknowledging a story that is not written by us.
I believe that idea is almost always present in my works, I tend to enhance a sense of natural time, aiming to slow down our patterns of interaction. It is a way to convey a dissonance with our time (a quick life on earth), but also a dissonance with the pressure that we put nature on, on the point that it has no time to regenerate. It is a way of proposing a readjustment of times.
MED - This video reminded me Alberto Carneiro’s work - Ser árvore e arte [Being Tree and Art], 2000/02 - when it is displayed around a tree seven holes covered with glass panels, like a cosmic drawing that transport us to different times. Our reflection on the glass can be similar to the one that we search on the water, leading to a communion of man and nature.
JP - I am really glad that you made that connection. I admire Alberto Carneiro’s work greatly and his thought and poetics resonate a lot in the way I aim to embody a dialogue with nature. The complete identification between body and nature, nature and art.
I am also quite interested in the idea of a material imagination, derived from Bachelard, which was a great reference to Carneiro, as well as the relation with the four elements as sources of poetic and material energies. Alberto Carneiro pursued the tree as the total image, growing in both directions, inside the earth and to the sky, a microcosm calling the elements to itself. I think that the beautiful work Ser árvore e arte is pretty effective in convoking our image inside that microcosm. The superimposition of our reflected image with the branches of that tree is also an identification with any other tree, with the whole nature. In my video there are some fundamental experiential differences: it is mainly visual, the body is not involved in the perception of it, but it might be immersed, projected onto that space. Instead of spatial experience, there is a temporal one, potentially cyclical (the video can be seen in loop, there is no beginning and end, everything returns).
As I have said before I am also really interested in these symbols, the water as the possibility of forms, the fluidity, with the potential of dissolving or destroying.
The mirrored image in the water has that meaning of communion that you referred to through the visual connection, the fusion of images, but it also has another dimension, the possibility of disturbing that superficial image and actually immersing in the depths of water.