Pauliana Valente Pimentel, A Vida é Feita de Likes

There are common characteristics that cross Pauliana Valente Pimentel’s artwork. The mise-en-scène, the thought composition. This notion of staging and scenography is transversal to all her works and is one of the formal characteristics that define her as an artist.

In A Vida é Feita de Likes [Life’s Made of Likes], Pauliana pointed the camera inwards, in other words, to her own family and circle of friends. From her Instagram (which she uses since 2011), the artist chose some photos that create different narratives (according to herself) and that constitute a critic map but, at the same time, a fearless look about the massification of image, namely through the photos created by anyone.

We all take countless photos (we always did). That support works as a register, sometimes nostalgic, of an event or moment that for some reason or another we consider to be special. There are postal-photos, the blurry ones, the ones not properly framed, now there are also the selfies, and so on. Yet, everyone, even those who don’t have great technical or artistic knowledge about photography and who might have flair, a higher or lesser sense of aesthetics, likes to take photos. Social networks were not even on the horizon, during the 70s, and Susan Sontag was already writing: “(…)people with a compulsion to take photos, transforming their own existence in a form of vision” [1].

With the beginning of social networks, this statement made by Sontag acquires a frightening relevance: we are watching a kind of lack of decency in sharing intimate moments or people who don’t even know that their image is online. Yet, we are also watching a form of democratization of the photographic taste, since every photo is passed by standard filters that give us some confidence that the photo will be beautiful. Thus, we now have access to blurry or not so perfectly framed photos, which some years ago would not even be printed or would go directly to the garbage.

Of course, none of the above happens on Pauliana Valente Pimentel’s Instagram. What happens there is the magic of casual photos sharing the same assumptions with her artistic work. In Jovens de Atenas, Paulina already demonstrated, with a unique and intimate vision, common people who were disrupted by her staging and her lens. Paulina portrays people in a magistral manner because she is not afraid of the contact and of getting close to people and probably because she likes people. It is necessary to like people to show them as Pauliana does, since the beginning of her artistic career. In A Vida é Feita de Likes, maybe it was more the impulsive and uncompromised capture, across the years, the friends, the family, the trips or people who participated in other works and exhibitions but that here appear more deprived. Here, her affinities with Nan Goldin become even more drastic, through the way how Paulina instills an auroral power on “home” photos, achieving what Susan Sontag described as the pathos of beauty: “In the worst scenario, reality has a pathos. That pathos is beauty”[2]. In this exhibition, photos have that pathos and, above all, have some decency. Even when we see intimate moments, there is a sense of dignity and respect for the portrayed person and for oneself that turn A Vida É Feita de Likes into an even more generous act. At the same time, in this set of artworks, the artist gives us the chance to look at her intimacy and quotidian and exposes herself in the same manner that the people she usually captures professionally expose themselves to her look at first, and to ours followingly. In a certain way, it is as if Pauliana said: here I am. The person and the photographer are one single entity and there is an artistic thought that is inseparable from the internal, quotidian thought.


[1] Sontag, Susan, Ensaios sobre a Fotografia. Lisboa: Quetzal, 2012, p.32

[2] Sontag, Susan, Ensaios sobre a Fotografia. Lisboa: Quetzal, 2012, p.104

With a career in film production spanning more than 10 years, Bárbara Valentina has worked as production executive, producing and developing several documentary and fiction films for several production companies including David & Golias, Terratreme and Leopardo Films. She is now working as Head of Development and Production Manager at David & Golias as well as a postproduction coordinator at Walla Collective. She is also teacher at ETIC in the Film and Television Course of HND - Higher National Diploma. She started writing articles for different magazines in 2002. She wrote for Media XXI magazine and in 2003 she began her collaboration with Umbigo magazine. Besides Umbigo she wrote for Time Out Lisboa and is still writing as art critic for ArteCapital. In 2010 she completed a postgraduation in Art History.

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