It's a striking scene in the plot of Certified Copy. James (William Shimell) views the rooftops and towers of the small cluster of houses and buildings of Arezzo through the window of the hotel where he relives (or stages, but the doubt remains, decisively, and is a key factor to the open nature of Iranian Abbas Kiarostami's movie) love story with the unnamed character played by Juliette Binoche. The opaque, earth-coloured buildings are loaded with intimacy, resulting from a view from behind and synthesizing, on their worn surfaces, intense feelings, a memory of times past and even a clash of the camera of the filmmaker faced with new cinematic territory - it is director's debut shoot in Italy.
It is through such intricate use of artistically-silent windows, with no ostensible elements jumping out at us that São Paulo artist Carolina Paz builds her solo exhibition Íntima Ação (Intimate Action), as part of the Zip'Up project at the Zipper gallery. Carolina makes use of painting, video and drawing to lead the spectator to a slower-paced terrain, where minute details connected by precarious yet powerful links suggest unique experiences to a cadenced, serial rhythm dotted by a persistence verging on the obsessive.
The French theoretician Jacques Aumont, in The Endless Eye, addressing the painting of movies (and, in some instances, of video art), creates the concept of the window frame, essential to his analysis of such art forms. "After all, we are interested, and it's about time, in what the image represents, through this imaginary world 'which resembles our desires'. An image, it may not be superfluous to say after Lacan, is at once, as a pig in a poke, the visual and the imaginary. It is made so that we do not get lost in it. [...] To make an image is, therefore, always to present the equivalent of a certain field - visual field and ghostly field, and both at the same time, indivisibly"1, the essayist states.
The windows carefully woven by Paz have varied supports and deal with, in common, the fragment, the splinter, the shards. At times she uses temporal dilation so characteristic of video art - one of her works lasts 72 minutes; Confinadas (Confined) (2011) runs for 22. However, also in just one minute the artist successfully condenses her proposition to seize the fleeting in the video of the series A Feia Que Não Sabe Que É Tão Feia (The Ugly Girl Who Doesn't Know That She's So Ugly) (2011). There, the inexpressive movement of the air on a banal, homely-patterned surface is what drives the scene, captured by a fixed, almost anti-cinematic camera - at least if seen as the current hegemonic practice of such language, based more on the narrative frenzy and visual pyrotechnics. "The picture window opens to the world: always in the same direction. Cinema multiplies the windows, crosses them, makes them into the place of mystery and in-visto, but also immobilizes them in overframe."2
Paz skillfully situates her audiovisual pieces close to the narrative edges, testing the spectator's rush-free capacity of adhesion. In the 22 minutes of Confinadas, the shots open up from a black surface that, ever so gradually, is seen filled with flowers of different hues, delicately sewn together by the artist. The 72 minutes of untitled video are even more exasperating: moving from an opening shot of a table covered with a commonplace, decorative orange tablecloth, with a teacup in the middle, to finally transmute into complete white, caused by the sugar that slowly invades the scenario, spoonful by spoonful. A snowy, somewhat lunar landscape, recreated over a dull piece of furniture from a repeated action.
In the slightly noisy assembly of Íntima Ação, the paulistana* highlights, within her pictorial work, the small scale and old fashioned post-production. Quite unrelated to a vintage fetishization, however there is an emphasis on the contemporary reinsertion of a priori anachronic elements, in the displacement and redefined meaning of objects from particular environments to be exhibited according to today's artistic codes and in the notable value given to the remains and the impermanent. So, Silêncio (Silence) (2012) and Ascensão (Ascension) (2012) are placed side by side and portray parts of the artist's body, but seen at a glance, capturing almost a frame of a routine act. Revelação (Revelation) (2011) also follows that reading. Pó (Powder) (2012) meanwhile refers to the classic theme of the vanitas and is placed on a gallery wall with rectangular windows providing frequent sunlight.
Íntima Ação, seen altogether, almost like an installation composed of distinct supports on fertile approximations, echoes the influence of Karen Kiliminik and Joseph Cornell, for example. Perhaps the instances that attest to Paz's restless artwork are the two drawings on show from the series Relíquia (Relic) (2011-12), both in graphite on newspaper. Evidently the materiality of these two pieces will undergo intense transformations. The resulting deterioration of what was before presented as a more visible and watertight work of art only serves to highlight the importance of the idea, of the concept. The precise lines that portray parts of (recycled?) picture frames, whose forms are completed in the minds of those who see them now, within an exhibition space, afford the artist's work a similar effect to, for instance, fireworks falling in the sky after brief bursts of light and colour. Traces of ephemeral existence, also resemble the quick-moving, dimming light of fireflies. "To know fireflies, one must observe them in the present of their survival: one must seem them dance alive at midnight, even if that night is swept by some ferocious projectors. [...] There is no living community without a phenomenology of the presentation in which each individual affronts - attracts or repels, desires or devours, sees or avoids - the other. The fireflies present themselves to their congeners by a kind of mimicking gesture which has the extraordinary trait of being just a strand of intermittent light, a signal, a gesture."3 Thus, Carolina Paz opts for a brave transitoriness, a vital uncertainty, in an intriguing world of almost hysterical anxieties.
1. AUMONT, Jacques. O Olho Interminável [Cinema e Pintura]. São Paulo, Cosac Naify, 2007, p. xx e xx
2. AUMONT, Jacques. Idem, p. xx
3. DIDI-HUBERMAN, Georges. Sobrevivência dos Vaga-Lumes. Belo Horizonte, UFMG, 2011, p. xx
* Translator's Note: Paulistana = a native of the city of São Paulo