Views of the exhibition “Prémio Novos Artistas Fundação EDP” | MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology

All photos by Bruno Lopes. Courtesy of EDP Foundation

Como interromper a eternidade? (Intervalos para a dúvida), 2019
6 inkjet prints on cotton paper 320gr
16mm film, sound, 2'53'' (loop)
Variable dimensions


«(...) In Blanqui’s writings, Bilbao found ground to explore a new set of possibilities for her work. Visiting the prison in Morlaix was a key to understand how important it is to register the memory of a specific place, as there are sounds coming in and a landscape surrounding it. Bilbao then used photographic materials dating back to the early stages of the art of photography, evoking the existing technical solutions at the time. These are images rendered on glass plate dating from the nineteenth century — landscapes that the artist then duplicated in large format, evoking the big-screen aesthetic, but also landscape painting. Bilbao goes beyond the archival, documental approach; she explores time and space as they change from a real, recognizable landscape to an abstract one. For the first instance, two suspended images outline the cliffs and the mighty inscrutable sea on an oxidized dark canvas. Both images were duplicated with no touch-ups. The other four images suggest abstract paintings, or maybe cosmic landscapes. What you see becomes undefined and unrecognizable, “reduced” to graphic elements — dots — which Blanqui equates with the universe and its continually changing structure. For these vision-like landscapes, Bilbao uses a “vernacular” approach — scratching and eroding the original images with implements created for the occasion, so there’s manual skill — a constant of her work — intervening, interpreting, suspending — ultimately setting free — time and space. The scratched — erased — negatives blur the original time-eroded images and rethink them as pure visual matter. From the actual, existing place, all that is left is a sound loop coming from an analog device — a 16mm movie projector — intruding between the viewer and the suspended images. So an object becomes a visual scar of sorts, a gash interrupting our experiencing of Blanqui’s tragic legacy and forcing us to come back to it again and again — the eternal recurrence Friedrich Nietzsche would write about. The projected light — a dynamic image in itself — leads to another visual cycle, defining an open ground for doubt and utopia (what could be more human than that?), and confronting the duplicated landscapes in all their density. The element of sound underlines that timeless circularity where that which is recognizable and that which can’t be defined meld in a purely visual landscape existing somewhere between the outer space and the visual memory of the very tangible Château du Taureau surrounded by sea and coves. The low rumble of the ocean combines with a recorded phrase — a single stroke of spoken language in all of Bilbao’s piece. That phrase is the first verse from “L’Éternité”, a poem Arthur Rimbaud wrote in 1872, the same year Louis-Auguste Blanqui published his book — his final appeal to Versailles court. That same verse can be heard in Jean Luc-Godard’s Pierrot le Fou — “Elle est retrouvée,” says Anna Karina to Jean-Paul Belmondo. This almost-inaudible verse evokes for these images a circularity possibly tragic, but still, as large as the cosmos — reshaping as ars combinatoria, as pause for thought — a gap in the inexorability of time, of which we all are made. Bilbao’s piece materializes our conscience of being finite — not as a fragment of, or a fully-rendered image, but transcending visual depiction. Elle est retrouvée.» By João Silvério, «A cycle paused, a cycle resumed» (2019)

(find the full essay here)
© 2019 AnaMary Bilbao – All Rights Reserved