Sometimes it is enough to think about art as an expression of a historical context, a way of thinking, an ideology, one's own perspective of the world. This projects onto the artworks a somewhat appeasing legibility. Things get more complicated when the image is taken as an exploitation instrument that is contaminated by what it explores. The image takes on an impure existence, impregnated with the otherness it finds along the way. Here, it is not satisfactory to think about art-technology, conceptual art or transcendental art. Mario Ramiro's engagements and beliefs will not be easily classified, as he himself takes the image as a confrontation space between what is near and what is afar.
It is hard to situate what would be the proper place of each and every thing: of the old "new technologies" that continue to reinvent themselves and surprise us, of the ectoplasm that clearly outlines the spirits, of the hands that feel in the dark - whether inside the cave, or inside the black box of technology - if not to uncover their mysteries, at least to place themselves as their active subjects. The time of these images is also unstable. Everything here deals with an overcoming process (the aufhebung from Hegel's dialectics), a notion that points to death as well as to the resurrection of things, towards that which doesn't exist anymore, and fully realizes powers by transforming itself into another something.
The other and the distant are also in the combination of ordinary techniques and transcendent themes. Thus, a movement of consecration and a movement of profanation coexist. In this relation, the images retain what is left from a mythical mindset in the arts, but deviate from the artifices that would aim at their own mystification. It is not about confusing magic, which is in the origin of our relationship with images, and the fetish with an artistic object. This was precisely the complex operation realized by Walter Benjamin, making it difficult to decide to which extent he celebrated or mourned the dissolution of the artistic aura through technical images. When access to a single private image is transformed into a credential that wants to maintain the distinction between the elite that owns it and the masses that don't deserve it, the reproducibility of photography and cinema can become a fundamental instrument for the revolution. But an authentic aura, a rare manifestation that allows our gaze to be touched by time, this "unique apparition of something distant, however close it is", is something that Benjamin continues to search for in images.
The same tension between near and far explains the feeling that this exhibition brings about something that is already historical, but that also seems deeply contemporary. The notion of "art history" points to two very distinct meanings. One is more disciplinary, referring to academic narratives that seek to situate each artistic phenomenon in its rightful place in the past. The other is more insolent, and relates to the unpredictable way an image traverses time. In the first case, time is homogeneous and stabilized: what happened is already given and available for dissection. In the second case, time is change in itself. In one, history is the place for building culture and, eventually, some nostalgia. In the other, history is the path through which an archaic gesture becomes alive in the present time.
This unstable time appears here in different ways. Firstly, a part of this exhibition points out to some period during the 1980s, but it hasn't found a satisfactory historiographical narrative and, thus, causes the eyes to be surprised at the still unnamed facts. Secondly, in a broader temporality, the artist's works reconcile scientific linear reason with the circular mindset from ancient societies, a combination that is unique to the "post-historical" era, named by Vilém Flusser, author that Mario Ramiro is deeply familiar with. That is what allows ghosts to reappear exactly within a modern rationality that seemed to have exorcized them. Technical images are ambiguous on their own: before being technical, they are images. Therefore, they are haunted by the pathos that made them emerge in our civilization.
With a trajectory that lasts almost four decades, Ramiro doesn't claim for himself the condition of celebrated artist. He was a part of one of the first artistic collectives in the country, 3Nós3, and he still prefers spaces that can be shared. His recognition isn't due so much to the musealization of his pioneer interventions, but is mostly due to the way his continuous researches reverberate in the works from a new generation of artists he has helped create. As happens in mediumistic activities, the gesture from a artist-researcher is always potentially collective: it embodies not only its own time, and unfolds in the bodies that cross its path.