DECEMBER, 17, 2008



Color Inkjet print mounted on Alucolic
46,67 x 70 cm

Graphite on wall
Variable dimensions


Fragment and memory.

A piece by Vasco Barata, part of The Film Series1, stands as an undetermined but unavoidable element in that series’ internal structure. The image’s singularity and richness, explored by this author in his work, are replaced, in this particular stance, by the operativity the following words bring to the piece:  
- What’s on your mind?
- Uhmm… the afterglow of having experienced something spontaneous and good.2
The above text, extracted from an anonymous, fictional dialogue, evokes for us a translucent universe in which the memory of a moment, as reflected on the question, reveals an apparently discreet connection to a dense, continuous weave, which the author explores under a chameleonic guise. Rather than some authorial stance, that is to say, an active response of the artist to his object, this transmutation conveys first and foremost a sagacious understanding of the systems that produce and diffuse the differentiation and multiplication of the images that concur before him. While, on the one hand, Vasco Barata moves voraciously through the myriad information channels within his reach, on the other he stands still before that flux, as if paying attention to his inner ear, allowing a distinct sound to evolve and reveal itself as a re-updating. It is important mentioning that Barata’s production is serial in nature, and also the central role held within each series by the micro-narratives in each one of his works, which act as film sequences. The photograph shown belongs to a previous stage in his work, and has remained separate from any serial system until the present moment. It is the picture of a young man, an athlete perhaps, touched by small sparks of light, the metaphor of an Apollonian demigod, between the earthly longing for eternal youth and that timeless magic which briefly lends it a degree of meta-reality. The image we see goes beyond our hypothetical belief in photography as a truthful representation and fixation of reality. The sparks may be reflections from a windowpane, effects created by the artist or, in a careless first impression, small discoloured spots. For this artist, the reality of the world is self-evident within the flux of images and their endless indexation. His work silently follows the trail blazed by P. de Bordieu, putting into question the concurrence between the recording medium, its function and one’s need to verify reality. The present project, AfterGlow, explores this stance to generate a network of relationships between language, performance and the status of the image. It is within this amplification of relationships that the figure of the chameleon appears, as the author’s conceptual profile. It is not a matter of remixing the known datum, be it the outcome of intense search or a casual find, but of conceptually experimenting and articulating the boundaries the work both puts into question and brings into existence in the exhibitive space. It is here that the author comes across as a simultaneously silent mutant. If the relationship in the space possesses a specificity due to the nature of that same space, that specificity is in turn affected by the position of the image and its relationship with the free-hand drawing on the wall, giving it a performativity that is not simply limited to the movement necessary to the act of drawing, becoming specially remarkable instead thanks to the structure of Barata’s reflective thinking, which puts into question the deep nature of his artistic production and displays an unabashed willingness to experiment with the exhibition’s space and time. AfterGlow is an approximation to that ephemeral condition which constitutes all of us, invoking memory in direct association with the fragment, a thoroughly necessary instrument to bring a posteriori that unique moment of our experience back into our lives.

João Silvério
December 2008

1 On this series, read Bruno Marchand’s text “Scouting for Recall”, March 2007, published on the occasion of Barata’s exhibition at Reflexos – Arte Contemporânea, Porto.

2 Text from the piece The Film series (6), 2006; inkjet print on photographic paper; 45 x 60 cm.