The American Sunset - Installation view at Vera Cortês Art Agency, Lisbon, 2013
The American Sunset, 2012. Wooden bench, 200 meters of barbed wire. Variable dimensions. Pigment Ink Print, Fine Art Baryta Paper. 77.5 × 107 cm. Edition of 1 plus 1 A.P.
Views by Bruno Lopes
The American Sunset
Vera Cortês Art Agency, Lisbon
23rd November 2012 - 9th January 2013
The American Sunset brings together works by Rui Calçada Bastos
created within the timeframe of his residence at Villa Aurora in California, now
shown to the public for the first time. Starting from the vantage point of
a visual universe inscribed in a clear cinematic reference and tradition,
the author probes into the particular context of the “city of angels”, and
ends up leading himself into a profound questioning of the present.
In the video If you’re going through hell, keep going, we are confronted
with a steady stream of cars overcome by an alienating proximity, whilst
the orchestration of this mechanical motion is accompanied by a
soundtrack where one listens to phrases, citations and sundry testimonies of
serial killers collected by Patrick Findeis – a colleague of Calçada Bastos
at Villa Aurora.
A second video uses the same phrasing as a kind of mask
that only hints at the passing of cars and the glare produced by their
lights, thereby intensifying the atmosphere of confinement in a situation
where the viewer becomes an involuntary voyeur. It becomes clear, then,
that the narrative incoherence of spoken phrases, the claustrophobic
sequence of cars on a journey without destination, deliberate mark the
title phrase of the work in such a way that we are perceptually forced to
regard this continuous movement as components of a sought
discomfort, a distress conceptually materialized by the author.
The photographs that constitute the project, also define a territory of
strange and paradoxical restlessness. A road that ends in the middle of
nowhere, the clasped hands of an elderly held on a laptop, are
representations that refer to a discontinuous temporality, to a lapse in space
and time we do not know whether deliberate, accidental or permanent.
In a third image, the paradigm of temporal transience, the sunset is
captured by the screen of a digital camera, and the image definition is
better seized there than on the alleged reality, which in the photograph
is blurred. In this path of darkness we are destined to capture reality by
assisted technologically means. This seems to be our current condition:
the primacy of a digitalized world overlaps the experience. Because
experience to Calçada Bastos, rises itself from the limitations of a free and
clear understanding of what surrounds us. This is the conclusion from
the last image of the exhibition, a self-portrait in which the artist sits
on a bench contemplating a sunset. In this image a disruptive element
erupts because the individual is strangely wrapped in barbed wire; a
visual paradox that becomes more evident by the presence in the
exhibition space of the bench with barbed wire.
Without making his proposal a literal commentary to the Zeitgeist, the
artist prefers to maintain an ambiguity that reveals a fundamental
pessimism. Look without seeing, experience without feeling, herein living is a
state of perceptual anesthesia, a gap in the understanding of the world.
By inner waiver or by exterior enforcement. Waiting for the end of a long
Miguel von Haffe Perez