Mariana Caló (1984, Viana do Castelo, Portugal) and Francisco Queimadela (1985, Coimbra, Portugal) met at the School of Fine Arts of Porto and have been working in collaboration since 2010. In their practice, they combine film, photography and sculpture to create intimist and immersive installations, where the boundaries between dream, reality, fiction, objectivity and spontaneity are constantly shifted and blurred. The work happens in-between all these different realms, and despite the fantastic atmosphere they often transmit, most projects are based in processes that develop throughout time, be it in research and investigation, or field work, or in internal metamorphosis of their daily practice, displaying environmental and ecological concerns, and a dialogue between biological, vernacular and cultural elements. While some of the earlier works engaged in a reflection on the physical, philosophical and symbolic meaning of dense topics such as time, more recent ones follow a complementary path, aiming at capturing a glimpse of the extraordinary that might be revealed in the everyday.
In Efeito orla [Edge Effect] (2013), one of their works included in the 34th Bienal, these aspects of Caló and Queimadela’s practice are condensed and placed in relation. The work is the result of a search for the Iberian lynx, the most endangered feline in the world, considered practically extinct in the area of Reserva Nacional da Serra da Malcata (Portugal), which was created in the 1980s as an effort to protect this species and where the work was developed. According to some of inhabitants from the Malcata mountain range that the artists talked to, the lynx “is sensed but not seen”, it’s evasive and almost invisible. In mythology it is associated with secrecy and the revelation of obscure truths, to the world of the dead, but also to the sun and light. In Efeito orla the spectre of the lynx is evoked through the places it inhabited and the accounts of sightings shared in first-hand with the artists, mostly violent episodes that relate to its current state of preservation. While the animal itself doesn’t appear on screen, Caló and Queimadela introduce in the landscape various optical disks, a device which, according to them, “references to notions of apparition, illusion, dazzlement, camouflage, and speed, which we relate to the idea of an invisible presence that continues to orbit that place”.
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).