Ghosts

 

    Past beings who continue to ‘survive’, as said by Georges Didi-Huberman. For the philosopher, the image has a ghostly nature, where the fossils of ancient events, long forgotten or repressed, destroyed by time and history accumulate. As fossils of time, the ghosts are latent, meaning that the past continues to flow over the present. The contemporary is essentially anachronistic, a place of many "nows" (Walter Benjamin). It is a "now" you see harassed by ghosts in the works of Thereza Salazar. It is the now of objectified time, a rational machine, the reality of power and technique, the bodies of control, and repression of desires. Ghosts are monsters, hybrids and aberrant creatures, fantastic animals.

 

    What survives through these ghosts? In these fables, the artist contributes to thepersistence of the myth, of animality, the demonic, the magical and the oracular. The horns of these beasts, touching the objects of science, have the gift - or hope - to give them an animist operation, offering them various faces, human or animal. Resulting from this contact are hybrid beings, part machine part animal. They are endowed with operations and emotions. One is a heating balloon propelled by wheels bearing on its top a human head (or is it the head of a doll?). It seems to drive its empty and questioning gaze to the surface. In front of the mirror this creature asks itself, “Have I achieved the illusion of life?”

 

   It is observed that the visual representation of equipment and its operation over time and in different civilizations offers a wide range of animistic traces: circular shapes as pulleys connected to gears, mills, propellers, screws, spiral tubes, cylinders and concentric forms; numerous allusions to human anatomy, such as membrane-gear, saw-column, ball-placenta, piston-wrist and cord-vein. The perpetual motion has been obsessively pursued (Villard de Hannecourt and Leonardo da Vinci, for example). Science and mystery merge in this anatomical animism. Toys today appear to support this node, through which survive ties with the world's oracle, the demonic and magic. A constant repression of these contents will be necessary for the machines to acquire their own "body" that does not continue to make reference to human anatomy.

 

   Theresa Salazar proceeds through the assembly process, dialectically, presupposingthe counterpart of dismantling. The dismantling of the contexts of the images: the artist is interested in image banks turned into fragments, excluded from their original contexts, and turned into ruins. These "spoils" of time, strangers to each other, are put together, assembled, in order to obtain unexpected meanings. The artist proceeds using the model proposed by Walter Benjamin, synthesized into his angel of history, the archaeologist figure, the "painter of modern life", the flâneur, those who are able to capture the fleeting moment in which the ghosts of the past cross the present.

 

   As for language, her work is constructed through various media, whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional. The use of graphic codes responds to a need for schematic description of the objects to which they refer. This is explicit in the series ‘Ghosts’ and also ‘Anachronisms’. In these images the graphic artist echoes the graphic scientific representations of which she appropriates: their function is to provide objectivity and sharpness to the representation. Its rhetoric is that of meticulous hatches that were deposited over time on woodblocks, copper and in software such as ‘Illustrator’. The sharpness is not only an image effect, but a foundation; set in the field of reason, objectivity, design, it wants to annihilate the mystery. This is also evident in the hatches of ‘Horn’, mechanically deposited inside the transparent resin block. However, as the page of a book of witchcraft, or the geometry of an astrological chart, the supposed objectivity of graphic codes expresses the most mysterious and hidden meanings.

   

   A critical look at the transparency of glass and resin can still evoke two moments ofarchitectural history that attest to the fusion of architecture and the use of glass: the Gothic and the Crystal Palaces, the transcendence by religion and transcendence by consumption. Derived from this second model, architectural ideals that appeared in the nineteenth century continue today. Note that they originally responded to technological progress and aspirations for a renewed sense of transparency. The pavilions and universal fairs represented the triumph of capitalism; they functioned as huge displays of goods (W. Benjamin), while modernist architecture sought to provide optimal transparency of the ethics of universalization and democratization. Contemporaneously, however, the glass walls (or mirrors) of buildings testify to the victory of consumption and are offered as a spectacle. They also attest to the contrary of an emancipatory universalisation: in a single watchful eye from the top of the tower, still hangs a state of constant inspection and subjection, as a kind of panoptic pyramid, in which other actors take up old places. 

 

   The artist's images belong to a family that is suspicious of the present and runs a wistful look, of uncertainty, to the future: androids, zombies and creatures biologically "improved" share with the works of the artist the contemporary repertoire of aberrations. They are perverse exhausted valves, compensating for the tension generated by the supremacy of technical rationality, the dictatorship of the functionality, operability of totalitarianism. In the film ‘Blade Runner’ (Ridley Scott, 1982), androids created to work (slave) were built with memory to support their emotions. The illusion of life was created for them, and emancipation became the subject of their desires. But their desires were only met by their death: "All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in the rain... time to die," says one of them in his last moments. Perhaps it is too late, but maybe these magic connections, here intended by the artist to help rid us of this automatic condition that makes our wheels spin.

 

 

Renato Pera

February/2016.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

       Thereza Salazar   therezasalazar@gmail.com

São Paulo, Brasil