Exodus Stations #3

Luminous Shadow
Artistic dossier of Mariana Caló
and Francisco Queimadela

Mariana Caló, Francisco-queimadela 2018
still frames from original video piece

EXODUS STATIONS #3 project, like the previous projects, has invited two contemporary artists to work on the questions the project poses. Mariana Calo and Francisco Queimadela, following an invitation from CIAJG, spent time accompanying the setting up of shows, filming the exhibitions, recording parallel events and going through catalogues in order to formulate a personal framing of the visual and textual documents encountered there.

The selection of images presented here – Luminous Shadow (2018) – is a collection of still frames from a film which intends to mirror the artists’ personal questions in relation to the curatorial statement of CIAJG: ‘engaging contemporary and historic art beyond strictly museological classifications’.

Their frames depict art works on display in exhibition cycles that occurred throughout the two years they were filming at CIAJG, as well as pages of catalogues that were edited by CIAJG. Their work, although developing its own conceptual framework, reloads principles that we have identified in José de Guimarães’ approach.

In Luminous Shadow we see moments in which historic continuity is disrupted. By procedures such as the assemblage of objects and images and the burning of documents and images, historic elements are assembled in a non-historic way. In this sense, we can think here of José de Guimarães’ aspiration to create a cultural continuity by appropriating empathically other ‘modernities’, fusing cultures, and working in a personal key on historic content. As in José de Guimarães’ work, this breaking of historical continuity can be seen as a political act, as it represents an interruption of ‘tradition’ and its cycle of reproduction, and creates new genealogies of thought.

In some of the frames we even see how fragments are joined in stop motion – building a new coherence, a new narrative. As in a mise-en-abyme the film documents other documents: Guimarães catalogues. Calo and Queimadela’s work with books and exhibition documentation material sketches a possible museum of a museum. Similarly, Guimarães as a painter and collector is assembling his own artistic universe out of ‘gathered’ sources and materials. This represents not only a manipulation of material into a new continuum, but also a transfer from one medium into another. Sculpture inspires and transforms itself into painting in the case of Guimarães’ work, photography becomes video, or a book is turned into a video document in Calo and Queimadela’s work. In this way, we can observe how the transfer of historic meaning is always determined via a specific media. It also becomes obvious how any collection represents a portrait of its collector. It represents the objects less, and emphasises more so the agenda of its collector or of its epoch, turning any collecting act into a political statement.

On a temporal level, Calo and Queimadela show that every act in the present can have repercussions on the past and on the reception of the past. In their images where a subject is moving stones – the ornaments for a Mortuary mask – we can identify a sort of retrospective intervention into the documents of history that creates a parallel discourse, a meta-reality, which co-exists with the ‘historic’ reality. In both theirs and José de Guimarães’ work, the archive/museum is not only a device to guard information, but also to erase it, to make it disappear. This process of preserving-hiding is specific to all processes of ‘recuperation’, and typical of European anthropologists and collectors that aimed to retain and preserve the ‘essence’ or the ‘spirit’ of African art, but at the same time, by the very act of collecting, they erased obscured the history of the collected objects.