Studies of Sighting, 2019
Anonymous intervention with palm leaves covered with graphite and aluminium ladder.
Beach of Leça da Palmeira, Matosinhos, February 2019.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, palm trees began to die in the North of the Mediterranean, where they had been displaced to garnish gardens and avenues. The fear caused by the spread of an insect that fed on them overlooked the fact that their life span was nearing its end.
The Funambulist is an anonymous intervention accompanied by a series of drawings.
It occurs in several places in the city of Porto, around the abandoned trunks of palm trees that have died in the last years. Discreetly, these trunks are also being removed to prevent them from falling. With their effacement from the city’s landscape, it is as if the palm trees had never existed here.
The anonymous intervention is an appropriation of the exercises of the funambulist, a technique of the body that is also a game of chance: a way of walking on a cable between two points, in an elevated place, for no other reason than to cross it and, during the cross, find moments of immobility. The pole used to counteract the gravity of the body by balancing it, has been replaced by two fallen palm leaves.
The leaves were dried and covered with graphite powder, then used to find the state of unstable equilibrium that impels the body to walk or climb, so as not to fall.
“A branch of a tree that is still green, or an old rusty tube, will serve as the first pole. Don’t waste time on the floor” (Philippe Petit)
Insula Perdita, 2019
Vídeo H.264/MPEG-4; 5m 50s.
On January 3rd, 2019, the five palm trees that lined a garden on the street D. António Meireles, in Porto, were cut down to prevent their fall. The video records the felling of the last of the palm trees. The palm tree was lifted over the street, one last time, as a spectator of its fall.
Studies of Balance, 2019
Anonymous intervention with palm leaves covered with graphite.
Several places, Porto.
Pen and Indian ink on Arches cotton paper;
75 x 56 cm
Palm trees were the emblems through which the promise of a paradise was materialized in western cities. Today, in the spaces at North that palm trees came to occupy, they are the meeting point of contradictions that the end of their life span and their vulnerability made visible.
I started to draw them following their disappearance throughout the city, one after the other.
There was a documentary impulse in the origin of these drawings: the same need to focus on things and spend time with them that is characteristic of the gesture of those who draw. And of hunters. What interests me about documentary drawings is their ability to connect us with the most common existence of things. History, Benjamin recalled, breaks down into images, not narratives. That is why documentaries are modalities of fiction. They create links between images, testimonies and actions. They are arrangements of actions. But not everything can be described, and that is the fatefulness of documentary images. There is a resistance in the real that exceeds the capacity for representation.
The gesture of the draughtsman, as the gesture of performance, becomes itself through disappearance.
Insula Perdita (Exhibition)
Comissioned by Miguel Bandeira Duarte
Nogueira da Silva Museum, Braga, 11 May-6 July 2019.