The word “saudade” [Portuguese word for the sense of missing something or someone], the first part of the title of this solo show by Raquel Versieux, can be related in a wide way to her research. Already with ten years of career, the artist researches the relation between the human body and the landscape in many techniques and possibilities of composition of images. The photography and the creation of three-dimensional objects are some of the most frequent interests in her works. It’s possible to say that her research creates small narratives around the existential relation between what is human and what is seen (in the anthropocentric perspective) as a space of nature. This relation, although, is not given in a romantic way; quite the opposite, Versieux’s images seems more to show the impossibility to comprehend rationally this perverse relationship between skin and earth.
Far from any literalness regarding the way the viewer should relate to images, her research desires that our look concentrate in her propositions and perpetuate her own estrangement regarding the many organisms full of life that constitute our world. I think, then, that the “saudade” that comes from her artistic production shouldn’t be seen as a tight unity but as a collection of small “saudades” proportional to her own transit through many places and to the sense of missing that comes right after we finish doing something new.
In the case of this show, these “saudades” seem to be related to two specific spaces. The first of them is the Cariri region, in the state of Ceará, area with a strong sun and a dry climate where is situated the city of Juazeiro do Norte, place where the artist has been living for the last months working as a university lecturer. The other space is Mexico, the country where she did a residency recently in the capital that left many affective and anthropological new marks in her gaze, mind and heart.
Starting with these sensations of missing, the artist explores different languages around what “is possible to do with the hands”. Her gaze thrown over the local landscape becomes photographs that explore different aspects of her space. The yellow tone of the fallen passionfruits found by accident in a land comes together with the colder colours of the coconuts trees that, besides standing still, doesn’t show big vitality signs. These images are present in a more iconic way to the viewer and are different, for example, of the series of photos of Araripe – the mountain that divides the states of Ceará, Pernambuco and Piauí – that the artist explored daily by car capturing images of the passage of time and of her direct research with the earth. One of the ways, then, to deal with the “saudade” is the photography and its potential to remember a specific moment of a physical experience.
Living in a place where ceramic traditions are huge and where the open spaces of landscape enable the exploration of clay and millennial rocks, it seems natural the option to also explore these elements in her new works. We can’t forget, although, of her constant use of earth as a material and the references to the geological aspects of the soil in other of her works where the erosion is the central element. This interest in the passage of time – whether the prehistoric, whether the gestation of a fruit – is present in the objects here shown and create dialogues in her photos.
The artist bought coconuts and carnaubas, split them in two and made some sculptural experiences with clay directly over them. The fragments were transformed in models for her action and returned to the appearance of a deformed circle that looked like their original format. Once they were burn in an oven, these pieces carried in their surface a variety of tones and textures related to the space where they were laid down to dry – the floor of the artist’s car. From the height of the coconut trees to those elements that can be found in mountains or even under our feet, the artist presents also five objects that look like totems holding rocks. The height reached by these rocks get to the height of the artist’s heart, this organ as precious as these rocks. When they are broken, they open wide their age of more than ninety-six million years. If the heart is one of the elements that make possible that our life goes on, these rock fragments are the elements that make us notice that our existences are only particles of sand in the wind.
More than what is possible to do with the hands, this show by Raquel Versieux presents these things that existentially were necessary to be done in these transit between spaces. The “saudade”, this word that only exists in the Portuguese language, can be seen as a human feeling and also as something felt by the nature itself. One coconut that is taken from a coconut tree feels “saudade” (misses) of that thing that one day was his stalk. In the same way, a small part of a rock cries when it’s released from a bigger rock. Meanwhile, we, humans, feel “saudade” of the places that we just known and of the people we want to know more.
Raquel told me once (and I agreed) that the “saudade” we feel can refer even to our own present and to the house we live. In a historical moment where the experience of time and of reality is given in a very fugitive way, the nostalgia takes over our bodies in a constant way. Let us feel, then, these “saudades” together and, in the latency of the indefiniteness of the present, let’s keep on creating images and waiting for the movement of the winds over the coconut trees in the future.