In the mid-1970s, WimWenders directed three now practically legendary feature films, Alice in the Cities (1974), The Wrong Move (1975) and Kings of the Road (1976),which were characterized by the constant, apparently aimless wandering of the characters. Loosely inspired by Goethe’s novelWilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1795), the second part of the so-called “Road Movie Trilogy”, Falsche Bewegung, in the original German title, is the most enigmatic of the three: the dialogue is truncated, the characters deliberately unfathomable. The train crossing Germany appears practically never to move, as if what we see passing by through the windows were not a real landscape, but, in turn, only a film. This exhibition is based on this idea of constant movement that nevertheless goes nowhere. In turning out to be inconclusive and false, movement acquires a new meaning, transforming from physical to metaphorical, poetic and, ultimately, political, thereby showing the highly symbolic value of the way the various meanings of the term inter-relate.
For some of the artists featured in this exhibition, movement, understood here in its more conventional sense, is a central recurring element, a privileged strategy for producing work and, prior to this, building up a personal poetics. Practicallyall the works of Helen Mirra, for example, involve at some pointthe act of walkingand presuppose the movement of the body (be it that of the artistand/orof the audience). In the series of photographs featured in the exhibition,the image of a hand holding a stonecorresponding to the side of the road, like a comma between two words (as the English title Comma suggests), is juxtaposed with a description of a landscape, almost suggesting the possibility of reading and understanding the same place in different yet complementary ways. The work of Pablo Pijnappelalso frequently mixestravel and literature, autobiography and fiction. In the slide projection Fontenay-aux-Roses, the images and the account of the story overlap, complementing and contradicting one another, making it impossible to arrive at a single conclusive interpretation of events. Daniel de Paulaalso frequently uses a combination of text and image, as in the Readings series, records of books read “while moving” (either walking, rowing or moving in some other way), and principally in An Attempt at Exhausting the City of Paris, which alludes both to the literary world of Georges Perec’s essay An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris (1975), and to Bruce Naumann’s famous solitary actions in his studio (1967-68).
Without aiming to “exhaust” aplace or a subject, the Cars series,in which Felipe Bertarelli depicts numerous abandoned carcasses of cars, points silently to an endemic economic failure and also situates itself in an indefinable place where the movement (of the artist) encounters and portrays the immobility (of the landscape, the city,and the cars).Adrián Balseca also chose a car, in his case theAndino –to this daythe model produced in the history of Ecuador –to reflect on the recurring failure of government policy in Latin America. The artist took the gas tank out of the car, thereby depriving it of fuel, just as oil has been methodically extracted from the people who are its legitimate owners, and took it out of the capitalcity Quito to Cuenca, in the south of the country, relying only on the spontaneous assistance of people he met on the way. Once again, we are confronted with a movement that is at once real and fictitious, and which alludes, in a metaphorical but extremely straight-forward manner to the impasses and gridlock of social policy. Something similar occurs in Ivan Grilo’sVoyage au Brésil [Voyage to Brazil], which forms part of na extensive research project on the African cultural heritage in the Northeast of the country: the trip, in this case ironicallyequated, in the title, with an exotic tourist experience, is a preludeto (orperhaps a tool for) reflection on the persistence of racial segregation in the country.
In Jardim fantástico [Fantastic Garden], Letícia Ramos creates the impression of a film using photographic images. Obviously, every film works this way, with movement emerging from the juxtaposition of frames. But,in this case,the illusion can be said to be even greater, since the sensation of movement is not generated by the rapid succession of images collected at the same point for a certain period of time, but of photographs taken at the same time from different points, using a multi-lens camera developed by the artist herself. Movement is fragmented and becomes almost paradoxical, muddling the way we relate to space and time, as in the mechanical absurd gestures of Pia Camil, who, in No A Trio A tries to “negate” Yvonne Rainer’s famous performance Trio A (1966), by executing the choreography with a mask that obscures the view and high-heeled shoes that make it almost impossible to move. What should be, as Yvonne Rainer conceives it, a choreography accessible to allslowly becomes an extremely difficult evidently absurd exercise. Or, to cite Ricardo Villa,who sums up the exhibition as follows:what should be a utopia is transformed into its opposite, a Dystopia, thereby confirming that movement, or the lack of it, is always intrinsically political.