Farleigh is Wanted

Two premises are usually part of any photographic understanding: the supposed epistemological guarantee of reality and the paradoxical relationship with death, from the temporal disruption. Faced with these claims, in an essentialist perspective on photography – basic criteria for any criticism – how can we construct an image that, even after the shot, remains open and multiple? Capable of sustaining the tension and the life of the captured moment, even if in a fragmentary way?

Tito Mouraz does this brilliantly. Perhaps the question of photographic ontology is only germane in an analysis of his work by virtue of its radicality. In his works, the real is replaced by a strange fiction, the documentary becomes a kind of fantastic souvenir of an unfamiliar space-time. In Farleigh, as in previous series, the sensitive observation of the territory continues to be the starting point for Mouraz’s creation, who penetrates with his “fingery eyes” [1] the geographical physiognomies of several regions of the country. If in two of his recent shows – Fluvial and Mergulho – he dives into the flows of Beira Alta and Azores, in his first solo exhibition at 3+1 Arte Contemporânea the photographer presents no coordinates.

I shall mention that looking up the location on Google is pointless. Yes, there is a village with the same name in the district of Tandridge, Surrey, England. But it is not Tito Mouraz’s Farleigh. Who knows, maybe it’s somewhere in Twin Peaks? Access is restricted to gallery visitors, who wander through the emotional landscapes of this world, as imagined as it is real, as beautiful as it is sinister, like someone peering through an unlikely gap, cautiously and curiously, waiting to be surprised. This is also the position of the artist who looks and discovers through a small viewfinder, and who seems to improvise an authorship shared with happenstance: Mouraz approaches his object with the novelty of one who sees it for the first time and recoils with the astonishment of someone who sees it for the last.

We follow the game of the minutely orchestrated photographs within the 3+1 rooms, which pull us close and push us far away; in colour or black and white. Just like a word that, because it is repeated so often, has a corrupted meaning; the contrast and the contours of the figures, because they are so clearly marked, seem abstract. Stones cease to be stones, houses cease to have doors and windows, bodies cease to be human. We beg to be able to recognise the other in a face – which never turns to the camera, never turns to us. In a relationship of extimacy – using a Lacanian concept as dense as this – with Farleigh, where something of us is cruelly exposed, we enter and leave the exhibition with the same incomplete feeling that this fictional terrain supports something of the subject, that unspeakable thing – but one that vibrates for images – at the edges of the utmost secrecy.

Between the gesture of showing and hiding, Tito Mouraz proves the capacity of photography to create worlds, more than to reproduce them. Worlds that exist inside and outside, here and beyond, here and now, there and tomorrow. By maintaining the latent ambiguity of the real and the relentless fragility of time, Farleigh moves from the paralysed and eternal space of the photographic record and pursues us, like the illuminating and incendiary fire, to the boundaries of dreams, nightmares, memory and intuition.

Farleigh is at Galeria 3+1 Arte Contemporânea until April 29, 2023 and visiting it is a must.





[1] Haraway, Donna. (2008). When Species Meet. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, p. 5. Full passage: “We touch Jim’s dog with fingery eyes made possible by a fine digital camera, computers, servers, and e-mail programs through which the high-density jpg was sent to me”.

Laila Algaves Nuñez (Rio de Janeiro, 1997) is an independent researcher, writer and project manager in cultural communication, particularly interested in the future studies developed in philosophy and the arts, as well as in trans-feminist contributions to imagination and social and ecological thought. With a BA in Social Communication with a major in Cinema (PUC-Rio) and a MA in Aesthetics and Artistic Studies (NOVA FCSH), she collaborates professionally with various national and international initiatives and institutions, such as BoCA - Biennial of Contemporary Arts, Futurama - Cultural and Artistic Ecosystem of Baixo Alentejo and Terra Batida / Rita Natálio.

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