What is left of the dust that remains


The fascination of a starry sky awakens a contemplative abstraction, a dive into an abyssal night deeper than the bed of glittering bodies that seduce the gaze, an unfathomable timelessness that concentrates the universality of a before-everything and an after-everything, and induces the nostalgic impression of a fleeting occurrence. This sky is the astral model of impermanence before the accidental coming and the fateful ending. In this cosmic instant, everything is merely dust and colossal forces.

This starry sky is a mirror that returns to the contemplative gaze its own non-being, the impossibility of permanence of an everyday being-in-the-world intertwined by the force of a mysterious thread with the rest in customs, celebrations and other events, and the awareness of its being-to-death sealed at birth as a phenomenon of existence . Striving to save itself from evanescence and oblivion, this awareness of the erosion from passing time, from the instant of existence, ignites the drive to remember and to be remembered.

Exploring the photography of privacy as a practice, support and material, and its metamorphosis through combination with other artistic disciplines, all the work of Carla Cabanas on identity and belonging rooted in the memory of a time gone and intimate, and on longing for the perpetuity of a legacy, moves, in the single gesture of a game of mirrors, in a field that involves the fixed and the volatile. Between mirrors, the visual poetry of Carla Cabanas shows, after all, that the trivial is precious, that the mundane is transcendent.

The expression of these ideas is familiar between Álbum de família [Family album] and the video work In an infinite blow – Her family album (2021). Over a black background, Carla Cabanas sprinkles a myriad of scraps of torn up photographs, without any reference to names, places or dates. Nothing more than patches of colour, the small particles of light and warmth are the dust of memory, what remains of other stars that shone in the sky of someone’s life – the observer’s, also? – alone in the immense night, in the disconcerting time of memory. While the cinematography in In an infinite blow – Her family album (2021) proposes a crossing over these remnants, the immobile solidity of Álbum de família suggests their sedimentation in successive strata in the density of the work.

In Álbum de família, Carla Cabanas deviates from her previous works, not elaborating on the performance of the person posing, the gaze of the person capturing it, the plot of a tale of intermittences, its recollection through different eyes, which make the family photograph album a deposit of obscure glimpses and vague murmurs, of fictions on fictions, a fragmented and improbable resonance. The fervour of the memory of each moment and of life, of remembering and being remembered, is always a delirious reunion and irretrievable loss. It is with this failure that Carla Cabanas works, striking, and destroying, the photograph, grinding the thread of time, eroding memory. What is left, after memory in ruins, time in suspension, is not what remains. With the dust from what is born and dies, from what comes to an end, Carla Cabanas merges reminiscences of the happening of life and of the stars in minuscule cut-outs of photographs that she inscribes in a new sky, constructing fictions, unleashing another story, which can make the indistinct clear, the distant near, the individual universal, opening the window of the imagination to transform what was into what could be.


Ricardo Escarduça