João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva

João_Maria_Gusmão_+ _Pedro+Paiva

João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva

Work from their oeuvre.

“Since 2001, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva have collaborated on the creation of enigmatic, lyrical photographs and sculptures, but most prominently they work in 16mm silent film. Through their investigations into the limits of scientific rationalism, they unfold what they have called ‘poetic philosophical fiction,’ suggesting that the world may not simply be more mysterious than it appears, but perhaps more inscrutable than we can even conceive. In the process of sketching their expanded view of reality, Gusmão and Paiva have studied an eclectic range of writers and philosophers, including Plato, Propertius, Jorge Luis Borges, Alfred Jarry, Victor Hugo, and René Daumal. Daumal, who seems to serve as their literary patron saint, was a precocious para-surrealist writer and poet whose allegorical novel of 1938, La grande beuverie (A Night of Serious Drinking), furnished Gusmão and Paiva with the neologism ‘abissology’ (the study of the abyss), which they have used to describe their practice of depicting the indiscernible.

In contrast to the dense thicket of literary and philosophical references that undergirds their inquires, Gusmão and Paiva’s films are spare and concise, and often solely comprise an isolated gesture or single allegorically charged vignette. Cowfish (2011), for instance, consists of a slowed shot of a live fish helplessly flapping its fins on a dinner plate, while 3 Suns (2009) presents a static shot of the ocean, seen from the inside of a cove, which has been superimposed in triple exposure so that three suns blaze in an arc. Other films like The Great Drinking Bout (2007), in which a group of men take part in a kind of ritual intoxication that leaves them in a state of blind ecstasy, have a more narrative bent, but nevertheless maintain a somewhat occult or mystical significance.” –La Biennale di Venezia


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