The Tenant

Rivane Neuenschwander & Cao Guimarâes

28 May 2010

HD video-projection, 10’ 34’’ (colour, sound). Edition of 8+2 A.P.

Courtesy of the artist; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; Galería Fortes Vilaça, Sao Paulo; and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

The Tenant, by Rivane Neuenschwander and Cao Guimarães (Belo Horizonte, 1967 y 1965), pays homage to Roman Polanski by using the title of his 1976 film. It follows the path of a solitary bubble as it slowly and mysteriously floats through the rooms of an empty house, managing to conserve its spherical shape. We follow its journey, intrigued, concerned for its survival, on the lookout for what it might encounter around each successive corner… The film is an experiment that plays with our attention span.

Neuenschwander has expressed her interest in temporality and movement, and The Tenant challenges both of these notions. An everyday setting comes together with an impossible situation in this delicate, subtle and powerfully appealing piece. The bubble moves from room to room seeking a way out, encountering nothing but closed windows. The Tenant shows how domestic space can also be a laboratory in which experiments take place.

The viewer watches the bubble as it moves, but there is also a reversal effect, in which the bubble seems to be watching us through the camera that films it. The architectural setting in which the action takes place – the artist’s studio undergoing renovations – is the perfect film set for this work that is full of mystery and oppression, but also of poetic freedom. As in previous works by Rivane Neuenschwander, a few simple basic elements transmit fragility and fear, and talk about the ephemeral, about an event that could go wrong at any moment but is carried out skilfully to the very end.

In this film that looks at the extraordinary, Neuenschwander explores an emotional experience in space. The physical location of the shoot becomes a mechanism through which to generate sensations, making the viewer identify with the bubble at all times and feel that he cannot abandon it on its journey.