Katia Maciel

24/Apr/2013 – 15/May/2013

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    Synopsis of a Suspense

    A letter arrived in the post this morning. Rather, it was a box. White. I thought I heard a noise from inside. The sound of a train sliding along tracks. The sound of a scream, or was it a mosquito? I shook it. Opened it. Through a gap I could see that inside there was AIR. Fresh, green, the smell of unknown earth. And a piece of string, that fell on the floor and escaped through the grass, leaving a snake-like track and vanishing into no exact direction.

    A box of air, a piece of string and a letter.

    From the box – or was it from the letter – words escape: wait, watch, ambush, trace, calculation, theory, perspective, shelter, figure, dizziness, vertigo. With no evidence of any connection to form linear meaning, the words insinuated a poetic synopsis of a movie yet to be made. They referred to a woman lost in paradise, who sent photographs – or frames – like hints at its impossible location.

    Frame 1: Watch. In a dreamlike, alienated or hallucinated atmosphere, a woman in disguise delves into a green environment, apparently to chase an idea of freedom. Or else she is just dreaming.

    Frame 2: Wait. One second later – or earlier – the woman stumbles, walking over nothingness and leaving an open-ended idea in the rarefied jungle air.

    What might have drawn her to the forest? To what extent does she follow the tracks of other adventurers and explorers, who got lost in the woods in search of the Eldorado, of the paradise lost, or on a romantic quest to find a state of oblivion, a retreat at which to meditate, to write poems, to devote oneself to the pleasures of music and the reinvention of an ideal life?

    To what extent does this woman in disguise retrace the footsteps of the artistic-anthropological experience of Flávio de Carvalho, who in 1958 explored the Amazon River to make a semi-documentary film about the story of a White Goddess who had lived in the jungle? In the most extreme opening of this virgin forest, she would even find the Brazilian hero with no character, drifting.

    Or is she a dissident member of the group of seven intellectuals who took refuge in a bamboo forest, originally in 3rd century BC China, to later reappear in Yang Fudong’s work in 2006. The exuberant vegetation of this sensory botanical garden, with its Brazilian ironwood, imperial palm trees, cacti, pau-mulato trees, cypress and mango trees, really makes it difficult to pin down the time and place of this story.

    In the third part of this plot, what was previously impression becomes movement. Minimal, nevertheless. Figure. The body that watched with autonomy and aspired to freedom now swings in timeless suspension. Caught in a trap? Body that hangs. Motive of meditation. We are far from a conclusion.

    The forest is the backdrop to an uncertain plot. Drifting, the denial of civilization, the escape, the alienation, the archetype of the traveling artist; all forming the baggage carried by the woman in disguise from Katia Maciel’s fiction.

    Suspense, a situation-cinema project, is part of Katia Maciel’s studies into simultaneous levels of narrative. In her solo exhibition at the Zipper Gallery, the artist develops another chapter of her transcinema, crossing the borders of performance and entering the realm of poetic text.

    Action and dramatic development are spatialized, expanding to beyond the scenes inscribed in photos, videos and video installation. The story that inhabits the exhibition space is introduced in printed and digital form and in the urban surroundings, in the form of flyposters.
    In the posters the woman in disguise takes notes of her travels, which, after all, function like messages in bottles thrown into the sea. These hints, which conspire toward her possible location, gain a certain meaning when lined up on the gallery wall. But they don't reveal her whereabouts.

    A box of air, a piece of string, a letter, two words and a box of light.

    The experience of dizziness is completed in VERSO, a device-installation that holds the spectator of this situation-film between the forest and a mirror. Transformed into image, I can perceive that the disguised time of the fiction is simultaneous to my real time. Like the breath of AIR is simultaneous to the ray of LIGHT, inside the boxes. Or are they letters?

    Paula Alzugaray, 2013


    Critical essay