Maria Eduarda Duarte - In our conversations, this video has always been described as "the sap", sap represents vitality, strength and energy. In a way, the beginning of everything, of growth. I think that our final day on this project could have also been the first, the beginning.
Joana Patrão - You are right. If we think of that symbolism of the sap, it could have been the first. But I thought more about its cyclic dimension and how it is connected with a vital rhythm, the circuit of the sap, flowing up and down, merging the profoundness of the earth with the energy of the sun.
I thought of this video as the last one because I was searching for a kind of synthesis of the ideas behind this series of posts. In spite of not having a linear narrative for the videos, there is a progressive simplification from one video to the next, involving less and less my gesture of construction in the combination of images. In the first one, there were 3 images involved, in the second there were 2, in this last one, we see only one image: one shot, with the sap dropping and a movement that we can guess it’s from the presence of my body behind the camera. It is also the shortest one, a glimpse of the essential.
MED - It is also the work that most reflects on time, a slow time, that counts drop by drop, a falling movement that represents a renovation of shapes and forms. This is the video that I think shows more the material side of nature, its textures and chemical effects, almost like an experiment in a laboratory. I really like the scientific approach that you have on some of your works, like "Cultivo" [Cultivation] (2019-2020) or "Impressões marítimas" [Sea Prints] (2015-2018). I would like to ask you how important is this technical knowledge of the reactions between materials in the development of your artistic processes.
JP - I would not call it technical or scientific knowledge. It is actually something that comes from the fascination for simple phenomena, reactions, dissolutions, transformations of matter, something that Bachelard calls the innocent chemistry of poets. I identify a lot with this idea because it defines the way of looking, the attitude behind this interest that is more poetic than scientific: it is not utilitarian or logical, it deals mostly with an enchantment for things. My experiments are not done with the intention of testing and analysing, in fact, I am always expecting that something different happens, that another factor enters the equation, that unpredictability gets involved.
I also consider this approach as a way of dealing with natural processes, involving a language that is not my own and dealing with a natural materiality, not only with the appearances.
Also, I like a lot of the idea of an encounter, between different materials, between my gesture and natural processes, and what might result from those encounters.
In the case of Impressões marítimas I was interested in the idea of index, how the moment of contact between the surface I was carrying and the wave could leave its traces. I first started with metal plates, because of the relation with the idea of matrix, something that involves the multiplication of images (as the multiplication of waves), and also for the changeable interaction with light through the reflections. The fact that the zinc corrodes faster with salt water than other metals, creating a kind of slight engraving that goes beyond the superficial image (created by the removal of ink), is something that I just discovered by doing. There is a lot of empirical knowledge involved, things that I discover and incorporate during the process. Also, salt crystals started appearing with time, with the evaporation of seawater. Creating another layer of time and evolution of that image.
I often use salt crystals in my works, I like them for the material connection with the sea, for its symbolism, and I also have a fascination for the simple process of growing them.
In Cultivo, the processes are even simpler. I collected a part of clay soil, but I didn’t even filter the clay from it, so all the “impurities” of that soil are present in the works. It was more about using the raw material from that place, sometimes using water to dissolve and reveal the composition of it, and using my hands to model the forms on paper. I believe it also connects with ancient relations between art and nature, hand and matter.
In these works as in many others, these techniques and natural processes are part of the conceptual framing of the work but are also ways of conveying a materiality to them different from the conventional artistic techniques. Providing a space to develop a relation with nature through these organic materials.
In this video, the materials are not involved in the making, but the main focus is on the sap, on act of recording this phenomenon, without any manipulation provoked by my action, only implying the poetic look that I defined in the beginning.
MED - This video evokes me an abstraction, an image that conveys a stillness, a silence, an echo projected from these slower days. I could say that these days were a journey to an intimate space, a space for meeting our ideas. I hope this phase that we are crossing promotes reflection and dialogue, in a path to a more balanced world.
JP - I would like to start from the idea of an abstract dimension. I understand it as a matter of distance: the camera is so close that we don't even see the contours of the tree, there are no references. I like that closeness, to be as close as possible, almost inside, and how the strangeness and ambiguity attracts us to the mystery of the image, even if we don't completely understand what is happening.
In fact, to me, that image is not abstract at all. Each time I look at it I can still feel the smell of the sap mixed with the orange fungi, something between a fruity and rotten smell, the tree leaking, dying.
Also, I think this video is not that still, I see the camera movements as quite unsettling. I like this contrast with the slow dropping of the sap. I think this image is quite powerful because we see that liquid, that has all the symbolism of vitality that we spoke about in the first question, but it is coming out from a doomed tree.
Speaking about these times, I wouldn’t identify them only as a period of slowing down, a time for reflection. We can relate with this drop by drop, slow time, but without forgetting that it is framed in a context of suffering.
I would say that we are in disruptive times, and of course, I have the same hope that we can take this opportunity to rethink, to readjust and implement alternative ways of relation to the world, to regenerate after a serious wound.