terça-feira, 28 de julho de 2015

In black and white: explorations on Animalario by Nuria Cubas

by Vanessa Badagliacca

Animalario is a video art project released by the Spanish video artist and filmmaker Nuria Cubas (Madrid, 1984) between 2011 and 2012, and in progress, or rather possible to be continued even though complete in its concept. Watching the chapters composing this video-art piece, the first question arising would be—in the words of a John Berger’s essay title—“Why look at animals?” (1977). He remarked that from the same origin of man “the first subject matter for painting was animal. Probably the first paint was animal blood. Prior to that, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the first metaphor was animal”. If, as he highlights, Aristotle’s History of Animals, had already displayed quantitative and comparative differences between animal and man, nevertheless the process enabled by Nuria Cubas is significantly different.
For the extent, she indulges in a slow observation of animal behaviors, shape and physical characteristics. The spectator participates and is invited to put into action the richest repertoire of sounds owned by his/her aural memory while following the images passing by in the mute video, whose black and white awakens an atemporal imaginary of sounds. What is presented, using the words of a book by the Italian philosopher Guido Ceronetti, is “the silence of the body” (G.Ceronetti, Il Silenzio del corpo, Milano, Adelphi, (1979) 2010), even if the body to which he refers is the human. Silencing the non-human animals featured in Animalario, Nuria Cubas entices, or even accelerates, our projections, thoughts and feelings in the animals filmed.
The resemblance to Bill Viola’s I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like (1986) is apparent, even though both pieces maintain evident differences as well. If Animalario seems to propose an approximation of the human to the non-human animal, Bill Viola’s video apparently points out differences and distances between them. According to Kari Weil, in fact, I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like “reminds us of the what that is at the foundation of every who and of the ways in which we humans try to distance ourselves from this what. (K. Weil, Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now?, Columbia University Press, 2012, p.38).
Abstaining from a documentary report, with a result more similar to a novel description filled by introspective random thoughts, in fact, she is able to recreate in the spectator view a sort of personal relationship with what he sees. In other words, she opens the path towards an activation of that “first metaphor” mentioned by Berger, eliciting what Gilles Deleuze identified as the “becoming-animal”. Moreover, the varieties of animals filmed, induce the spectator to reconstruct a sort of mental map, an atlas in which the geography of life of the non-human as well as the human animals is distributed, changeable, in transition.

Vanessa Badagliacca is a PhD candidate in contemporary art history at the IHA, FSCH, UNL, where she is also member of the group research “Transnational perspectives on contemporary art”. Her theses focuses on organic materiality in the 20th century art and in 2014 she published two academic articles:  “When a tree becomes art. Alberto Carneiro and international artistic context around 1968”, Chronica Mundi, Issue on “Nature”, Volume I, Issue 9, 2014; “Doing and Nothing. An exploration on Song Dong’s Doing Nothing Garden and the possibility of renewing ourselves and our environment through not doing”, Zeteo. The Journal of Interdisciplinary Writing, Spring Issue 2014.

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