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Rui Calçada Bastos
The Mirror Suitcase Man, 2004
DVD, edition of 3
Duration: 4'30''
nº inv.: IM21

A man who picks up a suitcase made of mirrors, left in the middle of a deserted field, arrives. We never see his face, neither his nor the other person’s to whom in the end he hands the case as if passing a testimony.
We focus all our attention on that case, which mirrors the city, people, means of transportation, trees and streets. Train or subway arrivals and departures, doors closing, escalators up, station platforms, passing cars – the suitcase character’s wandering is paused, at times halted, but varied and it functions like a record of anonymous movements in the city. It is as if the time of passage, of dislocation, was the main memory to remain of these non intentional crossings in the urban tissue. The occasional slow-motion, a white flash or a cut between images, the sound of a typewriter, the organ music, some phrases in French that are almost imperceptible, the sound to broken vinyl, the grain of an old black and white image, all these contribute to a globally nebulous atmosphere that is lost in time, practically dream-like and without coordinates.
The suitcase opens a hole in reality and creates in its restricted space an abyss, a screen, microcosms where portions of that reality change from truthful to fictitious, from ample to trimmed down. The oblique planes, the climbing terrains, the spiral staircase, the swings, the wind in the trees, the orthogonal position of the case in relation to the ends of the streets it reflects, the multiple points of view, in low angle, in depth, close up, in contrast, and inverted in the mirror, accentuate that spatial-temporal malleability and unreality. The passing of lines of artificial light through places that constitute the image is yet another form of establishing perceptive intermittencies and an inebriated plunge into its illusion.
With the river and the river’s edge that emerge at the end, the idea of the territorial boundary that the suitcase expresses is referred to throughout the entire sequence. The hand holding it, the formally dressed character that promenades it, have the necessary rigidity and constancy for the inevitable concentration on the centrality of the protagonist object: a suitcase that refuses its interior function, substituting it for an exterior one. The reflection of the city becomes reflection about the memory of perception and about the verisimilitude of reality itself. In the space of the mirror case nothing is kept and everything is exposed; in this sense the case is functional anti-matter, an anti-image of reality.

Leonor Nazaré

Densidade Relativa/ Relative Density, CAM 2005 (catálogo)