by Pedro Leão Neto



Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (Published May 1st 1982 by Hill and Wang - first published 1980)


The project Teste À Capacidade Mnemónica Da Fotografia by Tiago Casanova, which won the BES Revelação 2012 award, is an intense artistic work in which memory, identity, and places are questioned throughout three different moments, each one corresponding to a specific exploration of the photographic medium that is being used and its relationship with the exercise of memory and its meaning.

We have, in a first moment, the projection of seven analog films bought by Tiago Casanova himself at a flea market in Barcelona, which report a family’s summer vacation in the coastal town of Javea (Alicante, Spain) in 1977. This projection is made by Tiago Casanova with the help of his grandfather projector, which malfunctioning causes the film to overheat and eventually burn slightly. Thus the images, which were “adrift” inside 8 mm bobbins for years until they were found in a flea market, begin to slowly disappear, making all those memories fade in a rather romantic way. The analog projection is digitally recorded in order to allow its reproduction during the exhibition.

The second moment is composed of a set of photos from Tiago Casanova’s own personal archive, which are also damaged. Captured with a medium-format second-hand camera during a trip through the Portuguese and Mediterranean coast in 2011, these photos are ironically printed in high-quality paper and framed.

Lastly, in the third moment, Tiago Casanova builds new memories about his trips and personal experiences, questioning once again the ability of the photographic image as a mnemonic device that is capable of making us rebuild past events in the present, but now making use of instant photography to document his 2012 summer vacations with a Polaroid camera that belonged to his grandfather. The final object is presented as a photo album, referencing in this way the travel albums that were used in the past to catalogue archives and trip memories.

The quote by Roland Barthes, in the opening of this article, brings up a set of issues regarding photography and memory that seem to be paramount in Tiago Casanova’s project, allowing us to relate them with the concepts of identity and place. In this excerpt of his work, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Barthes tells us that the photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially and by doing so it simultaneously touches two important matters: that of the limits of indexation of the photographic image and the memory process instigated by the photograph.

Tiago Casanova will, however, introduce in his artistic project a specific aspect linked to the images of photographs obtained from those devices and formats, which is the usage of damaged images, fragments of photographic images he uses as individual memory tools from several experiences and places—first through static, adulterate photograms, an outcome of the film overheating on the projector, and then with damaged photographs resultant from the light propagation in the interior of the camera and, lastly, with imperfect polaroid images caused by exterior temperature and humidity. We are therefore compelled to simultaneously question the unevenness of the human memory, the ability of devices and image support mediums to preserve those memories and, at last, to (re)think the importance of both kinds of photography as mnemonic devices of past situations and places: that of complete, technically perfect and immaculate images that “realistically” subscribe to the referent, and that of incomplete images, fragmented, more subjective, evanescent, and that do not adhere as realistically to the referent.


see the entire article in the issue DÉDALO #9 Place:less


Dédalo magazine is a publishing project developed by a group of students of Oporto University Faculty of Architecture established as a space for critical intervention based on the encouragement of architectural discussion and the issues that the current discipline raises, never forgetting that the architecture is not an isolated manifestation of the other arts or social sciences.





by Pedro Leão Neto

Xavier Ribas studied Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona (1990) and Documentary Photography at the Newport School of Art and Design (1993) and the author’s social awareness and background in these fields of study is well patent in his extended work covering several territories and places. His photographic projects also operate as both document and fiction, showing how an artistic approach can play an important role when analysing the modernity and contemporary transformation of the territory.

Ribas, by integrating into the photographic representations of his projects diverse concepts and ideas coming from philosophy, art and sociology2 is able to create powerful land- scape series where art and objectivity combine to address two ways of looking towards our contemporary territory. As Lluís Sabadell Artiga has written, “In terms of our way of looking, the meeting between modernity and landscape has generated residual spaces where our way of looking diverges in two opposed paths: indifference and admiration.” (Artiga, 2007). Ribas work covers the second path making us re-examine the diverse “invisibilities” of our territories.

His work is very representative of how politi- cal and economic power can control space affecting the built environment in specific ways, as well as the lives of people and their culture. Working with the ideas of invisibility and appearance, photography images are utilized to represent “what is no longer there”, meaning that the images gain a depth that go beyond their appearance. Within this context, scopio aboveground territory,
dedicated to the territory transformation connected with land art or large-scale land- scape architecture, as well as to regional or local planning, has decided to publish Ribas project titled Invisible Structures, which is a very interesting photographic project that works with the idea of “invisible” and “hid- den”, which consistently runs through his work since the earlier series in the late nine- ties, in an unusual environment and context.

We start by explaining that this work is one of the two photographic series [Mud is the name of the other one], resulting from the project commissioned by Photo España and supported by FNAC (Fonds National d ́Art Contemporain). We are here confronted with an invisible evidence of a pre-Columbian Maya civilization buried in the Petén rainforest. This project implied Ribas to travel to Guatemala in March 2006, where he collaborated with a team of archaeologists working in the “Proyecto Arqueológico Waka”, directed by David Freidel (Southern Methodist University, Dallas) and Héctor Escobedo (Universidad San Carlos, Guatemala) (Ribas, 2006a).
The images of this body of work seem to make the viewer plunge into a discontinuous and nonreferential3 jungle spatiality. One can spend a lot of time in front of them trying to understand those spaces and feel helpless in terms of knowing how to deal with them: there is no hint of socio-cultural context to read. Simultaneously, we also feel a significant exuberance and density in the pictures, which come from the author’s strong emotional and pictorial resolve of the jungle in its most basic and sensual form.
The author also explains how the title of this series refers to the terminology used in the context of the Maya archaeology to designate the site of a disappeared structure (Ribas, 2006a). This work has, in fact, a clear anthropological look because it discloses what is beyond the symbolic and biographical elements of that Maya civilization: the genius loci coming from the remnants and sediments buried under that jungle’s earth.


see the entire article in the issue 3 of scopio international photography magazine: territory





by Maria Joana Vilela

Terreno Ocupado, Délio Jasse

until 13th September 2014, Baginski | Project's Gallery, Lisboa

A place is always an erecting construction, in time. It is a sequence of events following one to another, a group of overlapped layers. So, any place memory is always a movement of and under transformation: another construction. From our experience of a place we retain and collect fragmented and evocative, personal or collective, truths: (dispersed) mental images, (historical) documents – such as cartographies, catalogs, photographs, diaries, etc.. And then, from our attentive contact with these remains we could get an emerging memory of this place.

Memory and archive are more or less complementary and colective (according to their origin) points of a map wich articulate, potentiate and complete each other. Our relation with them not only motivates but also supports the understanding and the building of a place memory. For this reason, in Terreno Ocupado,  the artist tried to edificate a city’s memory starting from his personal relation with the documents he collected from anonymous or from his own archives, in particular, with photographs; because photography is the excelent mean to investigate a personal or a collective memory, once it sends us, in its openness to multiple readings, into a visual recognition sphere, and so, more imediate and more universal.

Délio Jasse presents the building of his hometown’s memory – Luanda. Moved by his work’s goals and by the superation of the plastic limits of photography, he used many analogical printing methods. The colored photographs and their superposition in transparent layers, create surprisingly liquid and malleable images, wich transport an hard and complete narrative, challenging the usual intim and contemplative feature of a document, and calling the observer to get directly involved in the building of the place memory (as an habitable space). This intention is enhanced by the unfinished images’ construction at the gallery’s wall, that reforces the role of participant assigned to the spectator, and exalted, in the end, when some of those objects exceed their bidimensionality for filling a tridimensional space wich involves also and directly the human body.

At the galery, Luanda appears as a place of confronted, overlapped and mixed times. The city emerges from a dinamic construction of a place memory, based on an amplification of the documental, narrative, constructive and artistic value of the archive; specially the photography. The photographic support, as a remain of a place - an event, time, speed, group of different readings - opens to us a space between reality and creation where, naturally, is grounded the (poetic) building of this place memory, eminently completed.


All images courtesy by Délio Jasse