With the advent of new technologies, there are clearly more and more artists who are experimenting with the emergent possibilities. TENT is relatively a new open-space in Calcutta, the city of joy, that came into being in December 2012 and since then is calling out to artists willing to plunge into this new prospect and expand the meaning of existing art practices by transgressing the boundaries, where perhaps the dilettante and even the foolhardy will produce the new drift of art. Clearly, the digital turn and the omnipresence of new media in our quotidianess have transformed the ways in which art may be produced, received, and understood. In this regard, Little Cinema International Festival which had its 4th edition during December 08-10, 2017 have already created a mark on the national and international scene by showcasing a collection of experimental shorts, as well as some staggering videos and new media art works from all across the globe, from Europe, from far east Asia, selected shorts from Berlinale, KASSELER DOK FEST, from South America namely Argentina and Brazil among many other works that challenged the prevalent structure of narrative cinema erasing the limits between genres, styles and formats. The festival is jointly hosted by TENT, Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan in Kolkata and Studio 21 and is supported by India Foundation for the Arts in Bangalore, Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art, Berlin, artvideo KOELN, and Short Film Festival, Oberhausen.
Mallarmé once said that everything in the world exists to end in a book. Today everything exists to end in a film. The film series “Ventos de Rio” musters works by Brazilian artists Katia Maciel and André Parente for their maiden exhibition in India. The couple live and work in Rio de Janeiro and teach at the Federal University. Their research has ushered them to the passage of film history, new media and the visual arts, almost en passant.
André Parente´s works concern with the substantial questions of the visible. His familiarity with the moving image dates back to the 1970s when he appeared as a young performer in the videos of his mother Letícia Parente, a pioneer of electronic media in Brazil. Later on, he started deconstructing cinematic conventions with his original insights and discernment that led to a modus operandi that is playful, direct, and apparently simple in its range of graphic devices and technologies of recording and projection, yet, having the potential to place its viewers at the abyss, by engaging not so simple dimension of the visible namely those intrinsic to stereoscopy, parallax, anamorphosis, fractal geometry, and topology. According to the artist, “every photomechanical image, whether analogical or digital, raises the question of its relation to the referent.” And his images, routinely and repeatedly recorded in real time, slow down meaning, proposition and essence when they tend to skedaddle, as they are circumnavigated more than once until they start to look perplexing, paradoxical and perhaps unaccountable. “Estereoscopia” entirely consists of an infinite zoom wrapping the images of the couple photographed in shot/reverse shot conceptually reproducing fractal image in which one part contains the whole. The rotation motif unfolds as the images in “Circuladô” show bodies continuously performing circular movements and are taken from modern post-war film archives, namely Rossellini’s “Flowers of St. Francis” (1950), Rocha’s “Black God, White Devil” (1964) and Pasolini’s “Oedipus Rex” (1967), often referring to a reflective way to the loop technique in modern media. The confabulated images of “Dona Raimunda”, the legendary story teller in “Canoa Quebrada” recorded over more than 35 years subverts the subservient condition by understanding the phenomenon of artistic creation as an outcome and essence of the feminine reminding us of the celebrated Japanese film “Woman in the dunes” (1964) by Teshigahara as an antithesis. And finally it is the Bressonian hands that possess the physical and spiritual world of ”The wind blows wherever it wants”, destined to be a homage to the great French Master.
Katia Maciel´s oeuvre, on the other hand, emphasizes repetition and variation, a structural principle that is imposed upon many of her films and carried together based on a standard and formal motion, a visual motif that configures experience as kind of “theme-and-variations” game. She is attracted by the assessments and inductions of reiteration, working almost towards the use of contemplation as a mechanism akin to hypnosis – in the sense that it involves the spectator in the loop composed of the small gesture, the mechanical restatement of cognizance, the perceived passivity of the populace that could be deceptive. In “Uma árvore”, the binary rhythm of expansion and contraction of the branches of a tree evokes the hypnotic rhythm of slow breathing. A woman keeps on feeding necklaces around her neck up to disfigurement in “Colar”. Whereas “Via” and “Autobiography” are more of a gesture for reading books and being read by them, In her own words the artist states “I think that is my structure of reading and writing. Being hanged among them is a gesture. My library is my state of mind, my impulse to connect things between them and me, my form and my breathing. Being hung among them is a way of life. “Suspension” is also the feeling of displacements in space and time. It is the body state of language. Being suspended is a gesture and a way of living”. “Vulto” repeats the same motif but this time we see a woman who swings being suspended from a tree. In “Casa-construção”, the observer is excluded from the construction of the narrative, it is both the dialogue and the non-dialogue at the same time. The work defines itself as a film in three parts, and the decision about the montage corresponds exclusively to the author. In the first part, a female character is alone in an empty house. In a series of scenes, she expresses in short phrases her doubts about the impossibility and emptiness of a relationship between two people. In the second part, a lonely male enters the house and acts in an identical fashion. The encounter between them takes place in the third part, when the dialogue which has barely been hinted at to begin with, takes shape and the pieces of the game fit together, thus giving rise to the disappearance of the dichotomy between construction-reconstruction.
The collaborative works they produce, contemporary par excellence, are built upon a hybrid practice blending art with theory, either produced in tandem or individually, takes its cue from the evolution of film and video, convergence of philosophy and literature, and revolves around the relationship between space and landscape, performance, identity and difference, and extended temporality, among others. Relationships that intermittently add and multiply; ofttimes, they even subtract and divide, in a nutshell the relationship as the subject and the mathematics as its form. These kind of processes are accumulated through time and are juxtaposed to create an alternative vision. The collection of works gathered here expresses some of these operations. The recurrence of gestures and movements makes up a tender vocabulary that has a distinguishing feature implying construction and deconstruction, conflict and affection in every possible ways. “Contorno”, the first collaborative installation is more of a performance than anything else. A man encircles a woman’s body with a graphite pencil. Then, the woman encircles the man’s body, and thus the drawing continues until it reaches the end of the wall. The artists Katia Maciel and André Parente make the outline of themselves producing a continuous drawing, reproducing their movement as a live cinema. This work approaches the idea of multiplicity within the couple. Far from being something which unifies everything, their archive filmmaking distinguishes discourse, highlighting its unique qualities of multiple existence. In the final film of the series “+2”, the couple lie down, one after the other, along a deck that advances over the sea. The bodies disappear when they are horizontal but only appear when they are vertical thus challenging the very idea of Plato’s perspectivism of vision. In these set of works by the artists, every action indicates the use of the concept of measure and time on the body projected into architectures and landscapes, the body is not the measure of everything, the body merely expresses the meaning of being a couple and all problematic between one and two together. These works place us squarely before some of the crucial debates and tensions namely whether art can be considered as a viable space for expression for freedom and whether this can be understood as a game or duel (like a capoeira) so that there can be as many pieces as can fit into the round like in a game of micro-narratives which hark back to our childhood offering a cornucopia of pleasure, fugitive and invigorating, where the idea of complementarity is nothing but a cursory comfort.