veridical shadows, or the unfoldings of a deceptive physicality

Daniel de Paula

  • deceptive physicality, veridical shadows
  • deceptive physicality, veridical shadows
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  • power-flow
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  • fetiche-feitiço
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  • social continuum reflection
  • power-flow
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  • obscuration
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veridical shadows, or the unfoldings of a deceptive physicality

Daniel de Paula

  • Period
  • 05.06 — 31.07.2021

  • Opening
  • 05.06 — 12PM

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veridical shadows, or the unfoldings of a deceptive physicality, the first exhibition by Daniel de Paula at our Brussels space, juxtaposes a variety of objects, including sculptures, a museological artifact on loan from the collection of the Centre Céramique in Maastricht, collages, and a video-installation, in attempt to give continuation to the artist’s critical investigations upon the abstract forces within capitalism that produce infrastructural space and reproduce violent social relations.


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Regarding the work: fetiche-feitiço (1865-ongoing)

by Daniel de Paula

 

A modest bronze plaque hangs on the wall of the former home of Sophia Schmalhausen (1816-1886), the sister of philosopher Karl Marx (1818-1883), in the city of Maastricht. The plaque celebrates Marx's stay, during a few weeks in 1865, in the home of Sophia and her late husband Willem Robert Schmalhausen (1817-1862), lawyer and public prosecutor. Marx's visit was, as some historical accounts suggest, motivated by personal reasons, but the historical implications of his passing through the city may have been underestimated.

 

Speculation has surfaced that, in addition to being a guest at his sister's home, Marx may have visited the famous glass and porcelain factory Petrus Regout & Co. - later known as Royal Sphinx - named after the founder, industrialist and politician Petrus Regout (1801-1878), whose code of conduct was: “NO WORK, NO LIFE”.

 

Consequently, before the publication of the first edition of his emblematic critique of political economy Das Kapital (1867), Marx may have witnessed in this factory the precarious and unhealthy working conditions imposed on the workers, many of whom were young children. Such an experience would have been insightful and supplemental to Marx's lingering theories on capital. As a result, it would also have been essential to the succession of radical reactions against the dominance of capitalism in our lives, which have since branched out worldwide from Marx's rigorous analytical gaze.

 

On the occasion of this exhibition[1] I am showing an engraved copper plate which was part of the production process of the Petrus Regout & Co. factory throughout the year 1865, the same year Marx is said to have visited the industrial factory. Instead of buying and displaying a product made in 1865 that is the result of the factory labor process - such as a ceramic plate or vase - I deliberately chose a fragment of industrial machinery that belonged to the production process itself. Or, in Marxist terms, I show the means of production - which would no doubt have been physically present during Marx's speculated trip to the factory - to underline the infrastructural manifestation of a quasi-automatic social framework. One that has since emphasized our existence under capitalism and a value-producing and labor-oriented society.

 

In that respect, my interest is paradoxically not in the copper plate itself. Not with the materiality of the object, but with what hides its physicality. I am concerned with the ideological essence hidden behind its explicit appearance. Its phantom, its shadow. The violent, inhuman and abstract categories of capitalism - time, labor and value - that rule everything and everyone.

 

Finally, through a self-conscious and self-critical attitude towards the commodification of my own work - which inevitably reproduces the abstract forces of capitalism - I transform the physical and metaphysical shadow of the copperplate on display into a commodity. As a fetishistic object. A unique salable and collectable work of art, available for purchase through Galeria Jaqueline Martins, by means of a certificate and contractual language confirming its ownership. In the same way as any legal document validates a commercial exchange and confirms ownership, be it land, an object, or one's own soul.



[1] in collaboration with the Centre Céramique, a cultural institution based in Maastricht that holds and maintains several collections of ceramics and archeological artifacts, including the Petrus Regout & Co. and Royal Sphinx collections

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Requiem and vertigo

Rafael França

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Requiem and vertigo

Rafael França

  • Period
  • 22.05 — 31.07.2021

  • Opening
  • 22.05 — 12PM

  • Curated by
  • Veronica Stigger
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Requiem and vertigo

 

Exactly three decades ago, a few months before his death in May 1991, Rafael França produced and directed his last video, Prelúdio de uma morte anunciada (Prelude to an announced death). The video features França and his then-partner Geraldo Rivello, exchanging tender caresses ― kissing each other’s faces, touching each other’s hands, embracing ― to the sound of the aria “Addio, del passato,” from La Traviata, sung by Bidu Sayão. We never get to see their whole bodies, only parts of them: the torsos, the faces, the hands. Even their faces are revealed in fragments. They are dressed in trousers and long-sleeve shirts; their skin and body hair are only glimpsed through gaps and in facial closeups. A minute into the video, slowly, one at a time, the first names fade in of male victims of AIDS, a disease that would also claim the artist’s life ― “Ah, with this disease, all hope is dead,” one of the aria’s verses goes. Only in the end does França’s entire face appear, right after a lettering that reads: “Above all they had no fear of vertigo.”


França’s final work renders more explicit an aspect seen in most his videos: a constant going back and forth between requiem and vertigo. The relationship between the listing of other victims’ names and the announcement of one’s own death make Prelúdio (Prelude) a vertigo-inducing requiem. The fragmented bodies spin around in spiraling frames that go away and back, go up and down, grow bigger and smaller. Unlike in most of França’s past works, the body and camera movements and cuts are sluggish, following the pace dictated not only by the tempo of the aria, but especially by the soft caresses ― which, after all, are at the center of the video: they affirm life against death. As Georges Bataille suggested in the introduction to Erotism: “Eroticism is assenting to life even in death.”[1]


In França’s other videos, the sense of vertigo accentuates whenever there is a break in continuity, whether it stems from the twisting narrative, the fragmentation of actors’ bodies, or the fragmentation of the very video due to the ultrafast cuts (which in some cases barely allow us to register the image), the nervous movements of the camera (which swings, shakes, rocks from side to side, etc.), the lack of synchrony between sound and image, or the use of deforming effects. It is as though each cut, each fissure, each deformation of the bodies, the image and the narrative suggested a latent eroticism, and with it a sense of threat, of something about to happen one has no control over. After all, notes Bataille, “between one being and another, there is a gulf, a discontinuity” that seeks to be conquered by the erotic mingling of the bodies. However, this discontinuity is irreducible: “It is a deep gulf, and I do not see how it can be done away with. None the less, we can experience its dizziness together. It can hypnotise us. This gulf is death in one sense, and death is vertiginous, death is hypnotising.”[2]

            The exhibition Réquiem e vertigem looks to celebrate Rafael França not only by featuring his own work but by seeking to connect with the output of some of his peers, as well as artists from preceding and succeeding generations, in Brazil and elsewhere. They are Mário Ramiro and Hudinilson Jr (his partners in the 3Nós3 group), Leonilson, Alair Gomes, Letícia Parente, Luiz Roque, Bruno Mendonça, Fabiana Faleiros, Luis Frangella, David Wojnarowicz, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Cibelle Cavalli Bastos. More than these artists, the show also proposes connections with writers who were contemporaries of França’s ― Caio Fernando Abreu, Arnaldo Xavier, João Gilberto Noll, Ana Cristina César and Roberto Piva ―, through selected excerpts from their books. França’s own videos, made between 1983 and 1991, are the unifying thread in an exploration of how vertigo (which, in his oeuvre, is requiem and eroticism) imposes an alteration in bodies, which come apart, come back together, disguise themselves, become fragmented, dissolve, get sick, die, and persist, pulverized, like relics, in images. “What is at stake in eroticism is always a dissolution of the forms constituted,” Bataille further ponders.[3]


Vertigo is the sense of imbalance and of imminent fall in face of the gulf. Only those who do not face the precipice squarely will not feel vertigo: will not confront the gulf. When it comes to Rafael França and the other artists featured here, one might quote the final inscription in his video, but bring it to the present: above all things, they have no fear of vertigo.



[1] Georges Bataille. Erotism. Porto Alegre: City Lights Books, 1986, p. 11.

[2] Ditto, p. 15.

[3] Idem, p. 18.

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