Self published, 2023. Edition of 400 copies.
Hardcover, 80 pp., 45 illustrations, 174 x 247 mm. Photographs by Matilde Travassos. Text by João Sarmento (English).
The light, like the ‘head of a pin’ in the midst of the cosmos, according to Delacroix, took twenty years to arrive. An image of a star, or the ruins of its body, presents an event that has long since taken place. On the contrary, inside the mother’s body, there is a gestation, a throbbing that is still virtually unknown. It is this type of conjunction of opposing forces and times that this book is made of. Consisting of enigmatic images that enunciate matters from the past in order to announce possibilities for other lives.
The mother is in and of herself a body in becoming, a reality evolving into something else. Strange picture of a person inside another. Full of the power of a future with all the rights it is entitled to: cold, heat, a smell that confuses memory, wrinkled fingertips after a bath that took too long.
We will never know what stays in us forever, from the time when we were Siamese with our mother: perhaps some freckles on the forearm, or the way we sneeze. We won’t even know if what we inherited was from her body or her habits. Because it doesn’t usually seem like childbirth puts an end to gestation. Because even after we are separated, the cords are so many that they intertwine and multiply in a network. Inside the body of a woman, the perfect conditions are found for another body to be meticulously formed in the darkness. This secret life is overwhelming, probed by an ultrasound or grasped through kicks and strokes from within.
This book maps such reality, fusing a macro and a microcosm that allows us to recognize, through photographs, a beating heart within everything: from in utero life to the stars, from light amidst the smoke to sand on a rock, or to the machines that serve to see very far. Thus, from a method, a visual narration is formed piece by piece. Like the nature of a constellation, in which points of light are joined by segments of lines, the design is baptized with a name and stories and myths are awaited at birth.
To bring to light a consistent work, with a methodical spirit (Un Esprit Méthodique), Matilde Travassos pursued what images have of absence. Paradoxically, photographs of remnants of a deserted world are offered to us where, for some reason, the daily presences have evaporated. Samples remain, stuffed realities, that preserve inert forms. Whether insects or planets, things and their places are frozen by the silence of immobility.
However, when captured by an image, our method of seeing is to give the time necessary for its revelation, and the spirit of these images seems to be that of suspension. As if suspending time in the dramatic ambivalence of childbirth. What will appear here? is the question that emerges in each photograph. In this way, to intuit a gestating life in each thing, these images present themselves as ruins, past glimmers, designs of the luminosity of other explosions. Enigmas about what to expect behind, or inside, all of this.
Hence, the book forces us to lean into each reality - like on a belly full of mystery. Accepting the photograph as a strange embryo of the past and of light.
João Sarmento SJ