Curadoria: Catarina Pombo Nabais
On the photography that commits us Sandra Lourenço’s work has a lot to do with the world of cinema. The images are ostensibly cinematographic, looking like small frames from a movie we might have seen. They refer to an action, to a narrative, to a character. And the way Sandra Lourenço illuminates these nocturnal spots, the focus on the trees and the ground, the concentrated light that cuts out only a part of the scene, reinforces the cinematographic character of her photography. But this same focus, because of what it reveals and hides, also creates the suspicion of something strange happening. David Lynch is the immediate reference. The images summon an environment of both the strange and the familiar. The scenario is quite common, I would dare say banal. We have all passed through these trees and paths. However, there is something going on. Something that we do not see; that we just sense. Therefore, these images surpass what they show. There is what is seen and there is what is not seen, which is only intuited. And it is in this short circuit, in this non-seeing that sees, that a second layer of strangeness takes place in these images. It is a short circuit that connects two worlds: what is not seen, but is sensed, an alleged action that would have had its place, and what is seen, what is left of that unknown action. On that moment, the two worlds communicate. For just a few seconds, we have the sensation of having entered another dimension, that of the pure past. It is a Proustian experience, in which the strangeness of a past moment captured by the camera invades, riding, the viewer’s present moment. But it is not exactly a becoming, because this strangeness is sovereign. It dominates the present experience. It never lets us lose track of the present and of our condition as spectators. We do not become past. We are just touched, lightly and abruptly, in a fraction of a second, by the strangeness of the past.
In the series here exposed, the images also inhabit the night. The dark. The silence. The fear. The anguish. The search. There is something like an obsession on the part of Sandra Lourenço for the depth of the night and the silence. We do not know if her photographs hide or reveal, silence or give voice, minimize or exacerbate something that happened. I do not want to talk about the unconscious, however blatantly it asserts itself in the images. Hence, I refer, not to the unconscious, but to that action that takes place in the images, behind them, and of which we only see a trace, a residue. This duplicity imposes a choreography of the gaze: when we see them, we know that we are peeking, participating in any given action in the middle of the night. Beyond the images, we feel the silence, the wind scraping the leaves or the snapping of tree branches as the car passes and crushes them, or the stepping of the ground and walking along the tracks. We almost feel a breath. And it is when we hear that breathing that we realize we have taken part in the action. Sandra Lourenço’s photography provokes this perplexity, it imposes us the condition of becoming partners in an action of which we are not aware. Unwittingly, we become complicit. We have already seen it! We are already complicit! There is no escape.
Catarina Pombo Nabais