Memory and Gesture


“Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus” (“But it fleets: irreversibly, time fleets” “)
Públio Virgílio Marão in Geórgicas
“The image is an extraordinary montage – non historical – of time””
Georges Didi-Huberman in Devant le temps

Roland Barthes wrote La Chambre Claire out of his need to explain and discuss on the emotional effect some photographs have on their “spectator”. At the time, his mother had passed away and he carried with him a photo of his childhood. He distinguished between objective or external reading and, on the other hand, an internal reading: more emotive, from the detail and inexplicable. He called them, respectively, Studium and Punctum. We would therefore have two mediation tracks: one in which we use codes and address universal values such as a political and cultural reading of a photo; another level, where codes are not used and the reading depends on the personal relationship established with the work, where a scratch or the erasing may have actual influence. This is the personal side.
This current work by Carla Cabanas starts exactly in the erasing, in this case through the gesture, of the content of a photograph. She does it organically, establishing a bond with ideas of the ephemeral, of decadence and mortality, as the title itself suggests.
For every image there is a story, but here the original story may have been completely lost. The artist promotes a connection between the changing of the image into a drawing and the transformation that has occurred when of the lost of its original meaning, that of preserving memory and supporting a story.
What is then the difference between an image containing a story pertaining to the private sphere and one pertaining to the public sphere?
How do we relate to an image we are familiar with and, on the other hand, to one that is totally new?

Bruno Leitão