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EVOKING LANGUAGE, by Marta Mateus 

2018-2019| Multi-channel Video-Installation 4K | color sound | 10' loop

Evocar a Língua (Evoking Language, 2019) sketches out a wait. Two women, in the south of a forgotten country. Dressed in black, two ages, standing against a stone wall that comes up to their middle. Feet resting on stones that fell from that wall. They whisper, we can barely hear. Each has her own soliloquy. Can two soliloquies build a dialogue? A prayer? A confession? Here they are. They are. There is no point/counterpoint, only each one in her solitude. Sibyls? Witches? Mother and daughter? Neighbours in the same village? All that links them is the wall, the field, the black that they wear, the singing of birds, and the silence in the world.


There is a song by Louis Armstrong. Stretched out, like the wait that took them to that wall, under the blue sky. It speaks about an end, in a hospital. A dead love that refuses to die. A song heard in another film: António Reis had chosen it to accompany the images of the psychiatric hospital where he filmed Jaime [1]. Behind each of these women is the silence of a mute book [1]. Words are an endless stream, imperceptible. Being hermetic, silence evokes language.


There were times when cinema protected the mystery of people. A dignity that the image did not steal. Nowadays, it’s not always like that. But in Marta’s cinema it is, each person or place is a mystery, each word an enigma, each shot a challenge. A barb in those wastelands that this cinema invites us to discover.

In a third image, a cupped open hand offers the fire. The flame hangs over the skin, trembling, dancing, a lamp that burns and does not burn, a flickering comma that punctuates the presence of the two women and those who see them. Magic, witchcraft, illusion? The hand closes sweetly, the flame goes out, reappears, the open hand reveals the apparition, magic lantern, illumination, illuminahand. Cinema begins before cinema with the fire. Shadows born from it, the reflections that mirrors do not save, light that precipitates worlds beyond what eyes see and do not see. There is no cinema without light, no spell without fire, no world without flame. The most powerful witches have always resisted to those who intended to reduce them, reduce them to ashes. Incombustible, like the images they leave us. 

João Fernandes - Artistic Director of Instituto Moreira Salles

Jaime (1974), film by António Reis about the life and drawings of Jaime Fernandes (1900–1969), a rural worker interned at the Miguel Bombarda Psychiatric Hospital, in Lisbon.

Mutus Liber, a book of pictures without words published in France in 1677, reference and research material for Marta Mateus in her residence at Casa de Velazquez in Madrid.

[2019] Festival ¡ Viva Villa !, Collection Lambert, curated by Cécile Debray, Avignon

[2019] Appleton Square, O Ciclo da Cobra, curated by André Cepeda, Lisbon

[2019] Portes Ouvertes de la Casa de Velázquez, Artists of the Académie de France, Madrid

[2019] Itinérance, Artists of the Académie de France, Madrid, Paris, Nantes

[2018] Como o Sol / Como a Lua Porto/Post/Doc, FBAUP, Porto 

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