Interview with Ana Catarina Teixeira, now on Umbigo’s cover of the month

Mafalda Ruão interviews Ana Catarina Teixeira, author of Umbigos October cover, talking about a work with several points of contact with the outside world. No narrative intentions or emotional impulses remain, as what the artist wants to materialise is more easily achieved without a title or attachment, in a game between limits of states, consequence of the dazzle of everyday life, matter and its properties, and the mediums that communicate it.

Mafalda Ruão – With a curriculum that includes a degree and now a Masters in Painting, how did you develop an artistic path more focused on sculpture and video?

Ana Catarina Teixeira – The Bachelor and Master in Painting allow students to explore several forms of artistic expression. In my case, I was quickly attracted to sculpture. So, until the end of the second year, I made sculptural works; from the third year on, I started using video. This path has a very direct and sensorial connection with matter, which then gave rise to a more distant and ascetic approach.

Basically, I think sculpture was the fuel for my approach to the exercise of thinking an object in space and, consequently, to the exploration of the physical relationship between object and viewer. This clearly reflects the installation side in my works. Since the end of my degree, I have been investigating the materiality of the video device/medium, mainly through the projection surface – sculpture and video ended up converging in my artistic path.

MR – Your artistic production has a sublimating minimalism. Im talking about colour, form and presentation in space. What does silence have and noise doesnt? What emotions make you create?

ACT – I wouldnt say emotions. I am guided by my encounter (as an author) with the outside; my discourse originates from the outside, as it is marked by various allurements, from specific moments or events of everyday life to the confrontation with the qualities of each matter and the specificity or nature of each medium. The plastic solutions I develop trigger a logic of rupture, deconstruction and reconfiguration, a play between state boundaries.

I have also noticed ambiguity in my creations: on the one hand there is fracture, fragmentation, deconstruction and even disquiet (especially Batalha Naval and Barragem #1-#3); on the other hand, there is simplicity and almost austerity, an order you describe as sublimating minimalism.

MR – Speaking further about the minimal contemplative act, many of your pieces are untitled. Does this allow the viewer to stay focused on the subject matter and form rather than go after an implicit interpretation?

ACT – Maybe it wasnt conscious, but maybe its an explanation, coming to think of your question. Not giving titles to the pieces may reflect my interest in the viewers sensitive response, specific in each moment and circumstance (depending on the point of view, for example). It may also reflect my working process, which often takes as its starting point the properties of the materials (as we see in the glass pieces).

In the work Batalha Naval, I chose this title to show a playful component of the piece, and, consequently, the idea of chance and imponderability of the results. Ships pass by, we have the sensation of an imminent risk. But nothing happens and the title is a contradiction.

MR – Regarding Batalha Naval, 2019 and Barragem #1-#3, both narratives have a subtle, almost silent movement, visible by the act of sailing itself and by your installation, which nurtures the confrontation of these successive shifts through interconnected projections. What were your inspirations for these works? What unites and distinguishes them?

ACT – Batalha Naval arose from my attraction to the edge as a moment that represents the end or the beginning of something; it addresses the approach to a limiting moment through the fiction of a war game, where the videos end seconds before the possible clash between the ships. There is a growing tension and conflict is imminent. This is why I use video, because it has a duration, allowing me to create an effect of incompleteness and suspension.

The three works share a slow movement to achieve this desired effect. They also share the same rationale of working the mediums mechanism (duration, looped movement, for example), creating an image that reinforces itself. But a slight difference: in Batalha Naval, a conclusive point that never arrives (discontinuity, a fracture) is underlined, while the works Barragem #1-#3 highlight what happens during the course of time, with no starting or ending point.

The pieces Barragem #1-#3 are an approach to videos materiality (which I have spoken about before). The relationship between moving image and projection surface accentuates the videos human construction – the dam – through the idea of waters latent or potential retention and movement.

MR – The glass pieces featured in the exhibition Tracing the Infrathin, presented on a plinth, invocable and sacralised, can be seen in symbiosis with the surrounding scenery (nature) through digital photography. In this exhibition (and expressive) format, we find several referents of the piece – the gravestone, the menhir, the rock, the body. What do they share in the different contexts? Can you talk about your intentions?

ACT – These photographs are a second moment in the context of the glass pieces. They emerged in the confrontation with the casting technique; through it, I sought to achieve robustness, clashing with the glasss apparent fragility. The content of these pieces is in the form, in its construction and the relationship with the materials. In this initial phase, the forms recall referents of menhirs and rocks, given their structural and robust profile, and also the notion of successive layers (geological strata).

Then the need for the glass pieces to return to their primary state became clear: to connect and engage with nature and earth. They are permeable to the influences of the surrounding scenery.

No longer just different contexts of referents of form, but pieces that embrace that dynamism of the earths crust, of the changing geological layers, by adapting to different locations. An idea is constructed and deconstructed, which is the body of the pieces.

MR – Is there a narrative in all of your creations?

ACT – I wouldnt say a narrative, but what I want to convey is across all my pieces. The content or interests are common. What changes is the way I approach these issues. I use different languages (in an organic way, not as an imposition I put on myself), something proven by sculpture, sound, video and projection, creating differentprojects/works. The issues that interest me concern space, movement, image, the condition of limits, restlessness, the everyday, the journey/travel, etc.

I usually distance myself from the word narrative. I do not seek a narrative end. At least, I dont try to tell stories with a beginning, middle and end. But in the context of video works, for example, I want to convey the duration of an image and the experience of time (and also space) where the videos take place.

One of the ties of my creations is exploring the viewers perception through the projection surfaces in Batalha Naval and Barragem #1-#3 and the materiality of glass.

MR – You have already made two group exhibitions in 2022: Depois do Banquete (Lisbon, Pt) and Tracing the Infrathin (Lisbon, Pt).  What are your plans for the future?

ACT – The plans for the future are to finish my dissertation for the Masters in Painting. As it is a theoretical-practical project, the result will contribute not only to my artistic practice in the theoretical field, but a new body of work. This is the most immediate goal and I would like to explore opportunities to exhibit these new pieces.

Master in Curatorial Studies from the University of Coimbra, and with a degree in Photography from the Portuguese Institute of Photography in Porto, and in Cultural Planning and Management, Mafalda develops her work in the areas of production, communication and activation, within the scope of Photography Festivals and Visual Arts - Encontros da Imagem, in Braga (Portugal) and Fotofestiwal, in Lodz (Poland). She also collaborated with Porto / Post / Doc: Film & Media Festival and Curtas Vila do Conde-Festival Internacional de Cinema. In 2020, and she was one of those responsible for the curatorial project of the exhibition “AEIOU: Os Espacialistas em Pro (ex)cess”, developed at Colégio das Artes, University of Coimbra. As a photographer, she was involved in laboratory projects of analogue photography and educational programs for Silverlab (Porto) and Passos Audiovisuais Associação Cultural (Braga), while dedicating herself to photography in a professional format or, spontaneously, in personal projects.

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