Magnetic Shadow, Pot Smaller than Pot, Spaghetti Tornado y Heat Ray

Joâo Maria Gusmâo & Pedro Paiva

Until 26 May 2010

16 mm film (colour, mute)

Courtesy of the artists and Galería Graça Brandao, Lisboa

Made on small budgets and using simple means, the films by João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva (Lisbon, 1979 and 1977) feature short narratives and introspective content. Incomprehensible explosions, irradiation from strange sources, mysterious movements and other ghostly events show us absurd happenings that are formally based on philosophical ideas and scientific research into the very nature of human existence.

The work of Gusmão and Paiva explores certain singular phenomena as a possible way of understanding the world. As Nacho Checa has said about the work of the Portuguese duo, “by taking nature and its forms of expression as their subject matter, the artists add a cluster of ideas and knowledge that set up a complex scientific marasmus.”

Their work is driven by the possible relationship between natural or paranormal phenomena and the sciences that explain them to us. Perception and its distortions are one of the points of reference in their work, which explore enigmas that have arisen in the course of history and are sometimes but not always explained. Short films that blur the line between reality and fiction and deal with the occult, pataphysics and philosophy, alchemy and science fiction. A reflection in which ignorance is inseparable from knowledge.

For this exhibition, the artists present a carefully considered selection of their recent works, previously unseen in Spain, that explore several of their usual lines of research. The four pieces draw a series of interconnections that are fundamental in the work of these two artists, in which revisions of scientific and philosophical theories are applied to the visual field as the force that drives their experimental curiosity. Like an animated cabinet of curiosities. The discourse of their silent films ambiguously explains the workings of particular systems, so that viewers sometimes come up with an incorrect theory of what is going on in the projection: partly familiar and partly unknown, unfathomable.