Mauro Cerqueira

  • Gatunar, 2014
    Installation view at Múrias Centeno

  • Gatunar, 2014
    Installation view at Múrias Centeno

  • Gatunar, 2014
    Installation view at Múrias Centeno

  • Gatunar, 2014
    Installation view at Múrias Centeno

  • Gatunar, 2014
    Installation view at Múrias Centeno

  • Gatunar, 2014
    Installation view at Múrias Centeno

  • Escultura chinesa, 2014
    metalic structure, porcelain figures | (160 x 44 x 46 cm)

  • Gatunar
    Discman, pocket wallets, pen, sunglasses, swiss army knife | (5 x 100 x 100 cm)

  • Gatunar
    car stereo, red wine over marble | (10 x 100 x 100 cm)

  • Pão de fome, pão de plástico, 2014
    plastic bread toy, knife, marble stone | (123 x 200 cm)

  • Fátima e o milagre dos hambúrgueres, 2014
    hamburguer machine, porcelain religious craft, marble stone | (74 x 100 x 100 cm)

  • Tinto s/ mármore, 2014
    red wine over marble stone | (100 x 222 cm)

  • Esperando George Clooney, 2014
    counter, coffee machine | (150 x 192 x 45,5 cm)

  • El Greco em hall de entrada moderno, 2014
    marble stone, collage on canvas, vase, wood bead car seat cover | (188 x 134 x 104 cm)

  • Escultura de centro, 2014
    red wine over marble stone, bibelot | (47 x 100 x 100 cm)

  • Twins, 2014
    outdoor metal vases | (143 x 44 cm)

  • Candeeiro tutancâmon, 2014
    table lamp, marble stone | (32 x 100 x 100 cm)

The entranced gaze of the working class 

Daniel Barroca, 2014

Ter que falar – Bêbado (Having to speak – Drunk): 

A drunk man standing alone on a corner of Porto’s Baixa district. Building works have invaded the street, and the camera records a drunkard in a black beret, leaning against a wall, with a bag on the ground. After work, on his way home, late in the evening, loitering beneath the yellow light of the street lamps, in an empty dilapidated, unpaved street, fenced by iron railings affixed on concrete slabs, in the grips of gentrification, suspended in crisis, waiting. That corner will soon no longer be a suitable place for rambling drunks. The drunk is caught between the railing and the wall and, in that awkward position, begins to make his speech. He speaks into thin air as others walk by, people I’d call “non-drunks”. The drunk has decided to address the street, the public space, a space that seems to have fallen silent. The tone of his voice goes up and down, his arms gesticulate in indignation, as he articulates incomprehensible ideas for the “non-drunks”. He Protests. The drunk has adopted a radical, political position in his condition as an individual addressing the collective mass in the middle of the street! The collective mass circulates around him and he does what he can.

I increase the volume on my computer, as I listen attentively in order to be able to understand his protest and, as if it had nothing to do with me, I try to put myself in his head, to decipher the logic of his discourse, because I even believe that truth may well be channelled via altered states of soul. I’d also like to understand why Mauro Cerqueira decided to record this situation for about half an hour. It’s not clear what the drunk says and the camera records him in a succession of more or less fixed shots, which renovate the gaze of his comic figure, as he strives, with little success, to externalize an internal logic. He could even be an artist. The drunk’s discourse is, for the time being, incomprehensible to a non-drunk and it’s in this condition it fulfils its task. This is why it makes sense to compare him to an artist. He fulfils his task of articulating and updating the unfathomable, difference, that which has no translation. The drunk incomprehensibly expresses himself and it is in this incomprehensible dimension, as a spectator, that I try to align my life.

 

The camera:

The camera records him in a succession of more or less fixed shots, which renovate the gaze of his tragic-comic figure. Sometimes the camera hovers and we sense the operator’s hand movements and sometimes it’s fixed, apparently neutral. Its position defines the ideology of the image. The camera is sometimes participatory, as it interacts and dances with the object, feeding the event as in Baile do gatuno das cebolas (Dance of the Onion Thief) (for example). Sometimes it’s simply present, with a fixed gaze, allowing reality to unfold, and feeding off it, as in almost the entirety of Ter que Falar – Bêbado (Having to speak – Drunk) and Casa a Arder (House on Fire)..

In order to address the reality of the Rua dos Caldeireiros, Mauro sometimes engenders an indecisive amateurish aesthetic that has the cadence of the dialogue he establishes with the street’s residents. In other videos he draws close to the language of classical cinema. For example, when the camera rotates, in a perfectly synchronized movement, around Serafim  as if he were an actor placed in the frame . It’s a camera that’s sometimes indecisive, and at other times precise, but never unconscious. Mauro is a member of the local community of the Rua dos Caldeireiros because he inhabits the street on a daily basis. Number 123 is his place of work. His work also takes place in that street, looking at it and producing things on the basis of its resources. He observes that reality from the inside and it’s from that perspective that he handles the camera. It isn’t the curious and superficial gaze of a tourist.  This is an active gaze, that penetrates the complexity of the local context and circulates between its private spaces (Paulo’s house, Serafim’s shop and the corridor to the warehouse, China’s printing shop). This street is also the space of an old working class that lives, exchanges and shares things in the street. The street is a community space, of the group, completely different from the space of the middle class – which is the space of individualist isolation, created by blocks of flats. In a certain manner, and obviously with an element of romanticism, somewhere like the Rua dos Caldeireiros, one amongst many others, is the last stronghold of the collective community in our cities.

An Image is always a fictional construction because it forges a perspective that is filtered by technique. It is a fragmentation of that which is visible and everything that fragments the visible world, solely produces a version of the visible, and fictionalizes it. Mauro’s docu-fictions, produced in the Rua dos Caldeireiros in Porto, are ‘fictions’ that channel our gaze towards the depressed reality of that street. The daily lives of Serafim, Paulo, the Onion Thief and the Drunk correspond to the daily experience of the endangered existence of that community, which watches entranced as its territory is devoured by progress that destroys its social balance, which imposes gentrification of the city centre via an urban renewal programme that will expel the community from its traditional habitat.

Europe

In the Image of the drunk, as he gestures solitarily in confusion, as if embracing the imperative task of discovering a word that could mobilize the present and transform the world, I suddenly saw Europe.

In my room in Beirut, on my computer screen, I saw, and see, the capitulation of Europe. Europe that has been invaded by the markets and by the troikas. Portugal under technocratic occupation. A God-like, invisible and omnipresent force that shape our lives. And while we attempt to formulate a comprehensive discourse in relation to this invasion, this process of violent occupation, that involves no firearms, that which we want to fight, progressively consolidates itself.

We re-read the old revolutionaries and read the new ones, Marx, Ché, Cabral, Chomsky, Zizek, The Invisible Committee! We try to instruct ourselves against an enemy who understands much better than we do what we actually want, because it circulates in our blood and shapes our desires. At the same time as we seek ways to combat it, without thinking, with simple everyday gestures, such as turning on the television, going to the supermarket, surfing the Internet, we’re actually its collaborators. We’re simply unable to stop replicating it at our micro scale and disembodying it. It has the ability to anticipate our movements and absorb our gestures of resistance and transform them into the catalysts for its own development. The logic that a system always provides the tools for its own destruction seems to have been reversed. The machine that invades us, coming from all sides, from within and without, is far more effective than our ability to resist it. Resistance needs time to build up, it needs to reconquer the mind and body.

What the drunk in Mauro’s video tells me is that perhaps it isn’t the discourse that will lead us to effective tools of resistance – that perhaps discourse isn’t the path to liberation. Discourse will come later, the discourse about the revolution will come later because, if and when the revolution happens it will be uncontrollable and discourse always follows, discourse about the revolution occurs in the decadence of the revolution. And being European / Portuguese now means being trapped in a discursive loop, in which we’re unable to figure out how to channel this need for transformation. We’ve become the hostages of an exhausted vocabulary that just can’t stop repeating and emptying itself, like a doll. It means having neither the vision nor the ability to reinvent this vocabulary.

In Europe we’re waiting for a vision, caught between the dilemma of historical nations and economic union, in which the euro acts as a shredder and the colonial legacy continues to destroy the world . One hundred and fifty thousand casualties in Syria, in a conflict which is incomprehensible for Europeans, which, according to Adam Curtis, and also in relation to the vast majority of conflicts in the Middle East, has been transformed by Western media into a simplistic narrative conflict between vigilantes and villains. The Russian army marches into the Crimea. Hungary approves racist laws. Neo-Nazis utter anti-Semitic diatribes in Paris. Portuguese people once again learn what it is to be hungry and withdraw, once again emigrating en masse to the New World and exonerate the latent imagery of the old empire, when the shock waves from the death of that past still pulsates and its mourning is still far from over. Class differences are once again on the rise. The working class has been dismantled and therefore doesn’t have a cohesive body or a voice that can be heard. And yet, in the space that remains, there are those who gesticulate absurdly, while others simply pass by, on their way home, where they will sit staring at the TV news bulletin.

The long shot of Casa a Arder (House on Fire) in which the camera statically observes Paulo in his front room, rapt in front of the TV set. It’s like a mirror that reflects an entire misaligned reality of his problem, as he waits for a vision that will break the spell that continues to petrify him.