TODAY IS ALWAYS YESTERDAY
To grant meaning to one’s experience
Even when the space flirts with the absurd
To learn how to build pain
Even if sarcasm swallows the movement
To erase the flames of the heart
In order to transform my flesh into stone
To laugh of a constricted and chained moral
To believe in the absolute illegitimacy of the world alone
And in the definitive ruin of the human myth.
“Today is always yesterday”, the title of this exhibition of the Portuguese artist Daniel Blaufuks, appears in writing in a small work by Wesley Duke Lee that belongs to the Gilberto Chateaubriand Collection exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro. This phrase is written on an old photography glued next to a reference to the Brazilian flag. The country of the future appears tainted by a soft melancholia. The main clichés of a tropical Brazil, by nature full of joy and exuberance, even if maintaining their relevance, hide, under the thin veil of wit, a civilizatory and existential insecurity. The strength of a proverbially fertile land is daily tensioned by a sociability that devours the Other in the pathos of a total proximity.
In a brief exchange of emails about this exhibition, Blaufuks commented: “they are photograms of a film that is my struggle with the landscape of Rio de Janeiro, which is beautiful, rotten, tropical, melancholic, erotic and decadent, among many other possible definitions. It’s, of course, the viewpoint of a European”. This set of images reveals the tension, which is constantly experienced by us, cariocas, between intensity and decadence. The foreigner’s regard, like the regard of a child and of a convalescent, allows itself to the surprising wonder of that which is revealed for the first time, without the anesthesia of habits and repetition. Since long Brazil counts with the outside regard to better perceive its own singularities, in its degrees of both potency and inadequacy. The vices of a colonized history are mingled with the wish to be another, of not knowing that which one is, of a country that sees itself always pressed between being and non-being in every way.
In this sequence of images/landscapes we are surprised by a temporality, perhaps a luminosity, where serenity and disenchantment go hand in hand. Poverty is never miserable, the ruins are insinuated through the corner of the rooms, the urban explosion appears contained and explosive, the physiognomies are more grave than joyful (strange thing in a city that enjoys seeing itself laughing), flowers and fruits condensate a sensuality not found in the beaches, which are more mystical than physical.
The camera that circulates through the city translates the experience of the demanding photographer mixed to the surprise of the available traveler. On one hand, a great deal of attention to the formal dimension of the image: the framing, the light, the textures, the contrasts, the edition, everything is the result of a regard that makes precise choices. On the other, it’s as if an unique viscosity oozed from a strange reality, at once familiar and fantastic, granting to some photographs a bittersweet aroma, marinated by the slowed time of humidity, sea dew and the carelessness of the city’s corners.
In one of the exhibited photograms, we read a line by Carlos Drummond de Andrade; “to travel in photographs / to feel oneself an image floating among images”. From the traditional portray of a father posing holding his child, to the appropriation of antique photos, everything turns into image and produces in the spectator the feeling of his or her own becoming-image, the frightful multiplication in digital registers. That which interests us in this collection/flow is the effect of the juxtapositions, the singularities presented through the relations between the photograms, crossing several times and sensations in a pluralized now, “granting meaning to one’s experience, even when the space flirts with the absurd”.
Luiz Camillo Osorio – April 2011