Akram Zaatari introduces Guillermo Cifuentes’, Naturaleza Muerta [Still Life], 1996:
I was exposed to this work in 1996 upon my first visit to Videobrasil in São Paolo. It was a time when I was beginning to reflect on photography and setting up the Arab Image Foundation with other artists in Beirut. I was confronted with a video work comprising barely moving images intermingled with the artist’s whispers. His voice doesn’t try to compete with his images; it’s a very playful mise-en-scène with fruits, flowers and the sound of an answering machine. It’s a work about the fiction latent in every portrait. Inspired by this work, in 2008 I made a film that I also called ‘still life’: Nature Morte (2008).
About the work:
In his relatively short career, Guillermo Cifuentes produced numerous multidisciplinary video works. A formal constant that runs through Cifuentes' work is the use of the body as an object of representation. This approach can be associated with performances by Fluxus, where the interaction between the camera and the subject's body reflects the relationship between image and actual life.
The central themes in his oeuvre were how individual memory shapes identity, and the relationship between the urban context and its public use. From the mid 1990s, however, he also critically reflected on the media’s influence—especially that of television—on both the country's collective memory and the way it shaped social identity in the face of consequences from the military dictatorship.
Naturaleza Muerta [Still Life] (1996) is concerned with the correlation between the body and its image. The video presents a stream of images—a mirror, a window looking outwards, an almost empty room, a figure posing in various postures—interrupted by Polaroid photographs of a foot, a hand and an eye. This visual array merges into a series of head shots that are in turn superimposed onto everyday objects. The continuous stream of images is accompanied by text that reflects on identity and the difficulty of finding oneself in an image. Rather than depicting life, the work argues, image constructs life.
This film was screened at the 11th Videobrasil International Electronic Art Festival, Sesc Pompéia, São Paulo (1996).
Screening and Booking Information
Naturaleza Muerta [Still Life] (1996)
Director: Guillermo Cifuentes
Experimental | 11 minutes
This screening is part of the Genealogies in the Middle East and Latin America project, which explores historical and contemporary relationships between artists from these two regions. It unfolds along narratives revealed by the artists' personal accounts that provide critical alternative perspectives and insights by decentralising dominant narratives, schools and paradigms produced and affirmed in the West.
To learn more, please click here.
Sharjah Art Foundation presents a series of online film screenings jointly organised with Anna Goetz, who initiated this collaborative project featuring 21 artists and collectives from the Middle East and Latin America working in film and video.