Espai 13

Exhibition program
Cycle: Once upon a time?
Laura Erber
Curated by
Marie-Thérèse Champesme i Pascale Pronnier

Laura Erber was born in 1979 in Rio de Janeiro . Her artistic practice concerns both images (film , drawing , video installations) and text , especially poetry. Indeed , her work is on the boundary between images and words. Whether she is creating a free adaptation of a text by João Guimarães Rosa or referring to literature more indirectly , she raises the question of translation from one language to another: how to translate “without breaking the agreement” , “to reveal the web of forces in tension” and “not to spoil the secret”*?

For her , the Brazilian Sertão is a “key place”* for , above and beyond any geographical reality , it is a mythical space , alive with cinematic and literary reminiscences , a space to project the memory and the imaginary , “a collision zone in which the birth states and the death states of the imagination are knotted together”*. Constructed like a set of notes , the Sertão Notebook (2003 , 14') intermingles realism and dream , interviews and poetic text read in voiceover , images of the life of the peasants and recollections of literary characters such as Miguilim , the shortsighted boy in Guimarães Rosa's story , Campo Geral . It is made in 16 mm on a kind of film that is usually used to record optical sound and here produces strongly contrasted , and thus very graphic , images. As Alain Fleischer says , “A crossed transfer operates: the image is set in the material which usually keeps the memory of sound , notably words , whilst the sound reality of the poetic language rises to the surface of the visual signs.” That heightening of contrast exacerbates the aridity of the landscape , but most of all it goes beyond the neorealist black and white and , in an extension of Brazilian cinema novo , it “triggers an explosion of the real”* and takes the film into a dreamlike , mythical dimension .

The exhibition at Fundació Miró is structured around the Sertão Notebook , its reflection on perception , language and the imaginary. In the first room there are photographs ( Sertão Notebook , photographic sequences , 2003-2006) , all taken from rushes of the film. Impossible sequences , they still recall film montage and , through their arrangement , their graphic , almost abstract character , the lines of a text or a musical score. Open constructions , they leave room for the void and ellipses , and thus for the spectator's imaginary.

(2005 , 3'40'') confronts us with the projected , and therefore immaterial , ungraspable video image of a film in super-8: images of the sea , like a mirage in the middle of the desert of the Sertão , a dream of another space , as vast but , in a way , contrary. A reflection on the projection of desire , that of the film or the video , on the thickness of the image , the materiality and fragility of the support and the fantasised object , Mirages also refers to the social and political utopia with which the Sertão is laden in the Brazilian memory.

Are we still capable of looking at a landscape? The diptych Details of a Sunset (2006 , 9'57'') was filmed on a vereda , a marsh in the heart of the Sertão , a place full of animal life and traditionally associated with an image of sensuality. Laura Erber reveals the twofold aspect of the sunset: its strong luminosity and its sombre character. João Guimarães Rosa wrote: “The Sertão is night”.

* Quotes taken from different texts by Laura Erber.