Redistribute the Crisis (Interview to Marília Loureiro, 2017)

Published on the issue After Brazil of Terremoto magazine

Marilia Loureiro discusses with Pedro Brandão about his artistic practice which frequently crossroads with politic, economic and social platforms and devices.

Pedro Victor Brandão. Pedra da Gávea #1, de la serie No Civilizada (2009). Impresión por inyección de tinta; 33 x 28 cm. Imagen cortesía de Sé Galería.

Redistribuir la crisis

Pedro Victor Brandão is a visual artist who works by combining a certain type of production and circulation of images, with collaborative practices, and social insertions, in a field where the speculative imagination confronts art. Departing often from the obsolescence of technological supports in dialogue with questions of the artistic tradition, Pedro produces residual images, remains that carry the metrics of the civilization devoured by the massification of barbarism. In that urgent context of radical capitalism and havoc, his work is done in layers of different systems, as he tells in this interview.

Marilia Loureiro: For some years you have collaborated in different artistic collectives linked to varied social insertions, and simultaneously followed a more individual studio based work. How was that?

Pedro Victor Brandão: I have a history of participation in collectives since 2007. I consider this as an important part of my training because these activities have always been experienced with intense debates that articulated occupations, public performances, and activations that arise with a mutual recognition of different social fabrics and  terrains as a practice. I think these experiences end up also informing my work as an artist in general, including the work that is done at the studio, geared to landscape essays. The studio serves more as the connection, the manipulation, or the expression of available devices, rather than the existence of them in a physical space. My computer understands itself as a studio, and I think it’s great. It guarantees certain mobility, something that is also kept in a formless state, or a state of dictionary.

Pedro Victor Brandão. Untitled (Mosaic), from Antitheft Painting series (2011). C-print; 56 x 156 cm. Image courtesy of Sé Galería.

ML: About collective collaborations, can you talk a little bit about how some of these dynamics were, which areas they operated, what was interesting in them for you, and perhaps also tell the outspread of those encounters that have been important to your works that would come next?

PVB: Of the two longer participations I can bring the case of Laboratório Tupinagô, in which I collaborated from 2007 to 2009. It was created among artists and scientists in a coalition that had the doctor and writer Vitor Pordeus as the main articulator. From 2012 onwards, this initiative culminated in the full occupation of the Nise da Silveira Psychiatric Institute, in Engenho de Dentro (Rio de Janeiro), reformulated at that time as “Hotel da Loucura” [1] (Madness Hotel) “the first inner travel agency in Brazil”, bringing together many other collectives that bent the public health system. The project was dismantled in 2016 by the same municipality that earlier gave a breach of its sick machine. There was a change of secretaries and a new management simply exonerated one of the few collectively and artistically-run health projects in the city. From 2007 to 2012 I also participated in several actions of OPAVIVARÁ! [2], where we shared many meetings, meals, trips, and delirium. Another call for action was made to me by Pierre Sousa da Fonseca (artist), from Ajuricaba, when he proposed a mirroring urban intervention announcing the cutting and sale of urban trees for export, as an ecological counter-campaign under the name of a fictional company, Vecana [3], directed by the group. From 2013 to 2015 I worked for Agência Transitiva [4], which also declared itself as an institutional body (or constitutional, in some cases).

Pedro Victor Brandão. Sin Título #1.1 (Memoria Cibernética), de la serie Corta (2010). Impresión en gelatina y plata no fijada; 150 x 127 cm. Imagen cortesía de Sé Galería.

ML: Why did you declare yourselves an institutional or constitutional body? How did this affect your practices?

PVB: I think it was because we were looking for the exercise of a juridical institution of the future, that is to say, a collective body that emerges by adhesion and happens to realize in its experimental practices other types of contracts. We financed some trips, residences and publications; we established networks of exchanges with other groups, even if seeing the limit of “collectivisms”, where dissolution of authorship sometimes implies also in the dissolution of responsibility. I did some collections and data analysis with them, and in one of the last works, Nós dissemos sim (We Said Yes), we filed into Bitcoin’s blockchain, [5] an agreement signed between us, the director of Parque Lage School of Visual Arts (the writer and art critic Lisette Lagnado), and the curator of the exhibition (Bernardo Mosqueira). It was a text embedded within a financial transaction that pointed to a non-work, such as the realization of a non-project for the collective exhibition “Encruzilhada” (Crossroads), in 2015. In this occasion, we were able to publicly challenge some methods of the art system, dealing with the fields of translation, the place of precarious work, appropriation, self-organization and the very critical nature of what we call “collaboration”. In all these cases, I see the echo of the practice of “performing the institution”, as Andrea Fraser says, as if we could redistribute the crisis to the exhibition visitor.

Maíra das Neves & Pedro Victor Brandão. Gigantes Mineros #1, #2 y #3, from the series the þit. Financial sculptures (2014). Variable dimensions. Image courtesy of Sé Galería.

ML: And these processes of collaboration followed, to a certain extent, in other frequent partnerships, such as the works done in the Ruhr region in Germany, after the invitation of the collective KUNSTrePUBLIK and in partnership with the artist Maíra das Neves; in Panama with the curator Beatriz Lemos through the Lastro platform; and in Porto Maravilha, with the researcher Laura Burocco. In all three cases, they were works that stress one of the most operative forms of capital today–speculation. Can you tell us about these works and about how the matter of speculation appears in each of them?

PVB: In partnership with the artist Maíra das Neves we developed the þit [6] as a project, creating a self-financing model based on cryptocurrency-mining (like Bitcoin, but using other algorithms as well). This happened during the Archipel in√est project, which was set up as a laboratory bringing together various researchers after a curatorial proposal of the collective KUNSTrePUBLIK that sought practices addressing the post-industrial Western world. For five months we occupied a semi-abandoned land in the Ruhr region, where the main economic activity until the 1970’s was mining. We developed a prototype of a self-sufficient system to produce financial and natural resources (understanding time also as a natural resource), by installing three mines that generated bitcoins and this enabled the creation of a common fund for this temporary park and its activities, including the payment of rent with the landowner, in fractions of cryptocurrency, in addition to some workshops and public events. In the end, we launched an open call so that two other initiatives in the region could each have a financial sculpture, extending the experimentation of the logic that we introduced beyond the project itself. Curiously, the land was in front of the city hall of Oer-Erkesnhwick, and the mayor came in the public presentations. In one of them, two actors read a legend created by us, but supposed to have been recovered in the public archive of the city, it was an almost solemn moment, we served farofa with sausage. I feel an effect of the conversations on technoxamanism, technomagic and technoprimitivism in several publications and conversations (especially with Fabi Borges, Giseli Vasconcelos, Adriano Belisário and Bruno Vianna) in which it is possible to recover in artistic practices another sense for “speculation”, allowing works not only to carry the critique of a current system, but also glimpses beyond-dystopia, perceiving therein a change in the social role of the artist. In Panama, accompanied by curator Beatriz Lemos, I decided to look closely at some of Odebrecht’s construction works, perhaps as a culmination of the last 50 years of Brazilian developmentalism. We have seen that there is a repetition of this formula in which the political class caters to the interests of capital, which guarantees shielding. This mix will always result in a purge of rights, currently at an obscene stage of the capitalist mode of production. Making unsolicited social listenings remains an essential condition for producing art and knowledge today. From there, I brought a film-essay that appropriates words written by Norberto Odebrecht in 1968 in one of his administrative technology manuals. They serve as a plot for the speculative landscape and the loose fiscal legislation of that country which, in its creation (1903), already had the banking group JP Morgan as official fiscal agent. I did a self-surveillance exercise, too, with a trail camera (sensitive to movement and heat), also commenting on a state of mass surveillance to which we are all subjected. I have put these works together in a series, A Quinta Renda (The Fifth Income), yet to continue for some years. I want to visit Nicaragua, where the Chinese are making another inter-oceanic canal there. This end of a political-economic class also appears in the Futuristic and Speculative Circuit of Disrespect for African Heritage, Urban Oblivion and Rotting of Society, held with Laura Burocco and the meeting of a group of 30 people for a critical walk commenting the situation of the port of the city of Rio de Janeiro, currently the largest public-private partnership in Latin America, called “Porto Maravilha,” and still not investigated judicially in this network of processes that involves Brazil now. We created a series of six photo-collages from spaces that were brutally sanitized by the revitalization projects linked to the Olympic games. Public lands were sold in a Ponzi scheme. Like in Greece, mega-events have established a complex arrangement that is now completed in a crisis. Losses are being socialized again and profits evaded in market manipulations. The images bring these landscapes into a state of “post-olympicaliptic” emergency, signaling the loss of the right to the city as one of the key elements for the consolidation of a discourse that is based on innovation, on the “creative economy” and social cleansing that fits the interests of a ‘sim-city’ financial elite.

Laura Burocco & Pedro Victor Brandão. Plaza Mauá, de la serie Circuito Futurístico y Especulativo de la Falta de Respeto con la Herencia Africana, del Olvido Urbano y de la Putrefacción de la Sociedad (2016). Impresión offset; 33 x 50 cm. Imagen cortesía de Sé Galería.

ML: In these and other works, you unfold and extend the meanings of recurring terms found in the economic and political vocabulary, as in language related to the field of visual arts–as it’s the case of speculation (speculum, speculi) transparency, opacity. This procedure brings to your work issues both related to the composition of the image as landscape, but also related to the hegemonic mechanisms of control, manipulation and distribution of these same images. Can you comment on these movements and overlaps in your work?

PVB: It all comes from a desire to achieve visual and critical repertoire from the realities I experience. This involves writing, reading and the need to put visuality into a check, a take on the corrupting role that the images bring. Overlaps occur at the technical and formal level, bringing some social alert. The problem I have posed is to try to make these moments of radical transparency work in favor of a permanent transformation of some structures. To disagree with the opulent uses of information is also to claim a space of opacity, wherein possibilities of interference, chaos, and subversion arise; a fracture through which another light gets in. This is manifested, for example, in the work Sociedade Brasileira, parte II (Brazilian Society, Part II), when the expansion joint on a wall is juxtaposed to an analogue data leak that corresponds to sensitive information about the articulation web that permeates the Brazilian 1%, with their addresses, marital relations and consumed services. This work should soon circulate as a torrent file, so that I’m not the only one able to manipulate this data. There is a path that tries not only to exhaust the photographic act, but other black boxes, too, such as algorithmic governance, mechanisms of indebtedness and selective urbanism. In this last exhibition I made a comment on the idea of “toxic image” combined with the poetics of leak, [7] in a period in which social networks seem to be the best metaphor for the Information Retrieval Office from the movie Brazil, by Terry Gilliam, quoted in the editorial of this issue of Terremoto.

Pedro Victor Brandão. Brazilian Society, part II, from Prepared Screen series (2016). Photo-installation. Variable dimensions. Image courtesy of Sé Galería.

ML: Since 2013 we are living in Brazil an important moment of political upheaval, which has reverberated and caused impact in practically all spheres of our daily life, including, of course, our professional thinking/making, linked to the field of visual arts. So I wanted to ask how your work was affected by these events? What are the urgent questions that this current context raises for you?

PVB: Yes, 2013 unleashed something strong in the political imagination, which still continues to reverberate. 2016, however, marks in Brazil the end of a democratic process with the parliamentary and juridical coup. The selected punitivism was installed, mainly driven by centralized media and an untouchable judiciary. The remains of a political class buoyed by capital try to contain the effects of the investigations and then we see an art-rebound: the exhibition “Obras sob a Guarda do MON” (Works under the MON) continues in poster, since the Oscar Niemeyer Museum started to receive works of art seized by the Federal Police over several investigations. Can you say this is not a curatorial work? I don’t know. As we talk, a series of leaks is cracking the allied base of the illegitimate government because clearly a recording shows a Senator negotiating the end of the current investigations with the director of the largest conglomerate of production and sale of animal protein of the world. “The calamity is public, the scãndal is capital,” says Traplev and I totally agree. In January, the federal government released by mistake all official social media passwords in a tweet. They also announced that the government is no longer proceeding with the preferential use of open source software in the public system. Most banks use Windows XP, particularly vulnerable to botnet attacks–such as WannaCry which a few days ago hit more than 70 countries including Brazil, where data was hijacked by forced encryption, requiring ransom from institutions like the Public Prosecutor’s Office of São Paulo, and the Ministry of International Relations, in Brasília. This event puts cybernetic memory in check and in a sense makes an invitation to decentralization. I realize that the financial market and the media exercise an indirect representative system better than by the citizens, it can only end up by its own lack of intelligence, before a total insurrection lands (and it’s landing). The acceleration of these and other democratic crises affect the practices that I develop by their content of emergency. There is a poem by Iacyr Anderson de Freitas that sometimes comes as a loop in my head. It’s called João Cabral Visits the Municipal Ccemetery of Juiz de Fora, and ends up like this: “Between the square and the podium, thus, the bargain is made: a trade of losses that with losses is won.”

Notes:

1. http://upac.com.br and http://upac.academia.edu/vitorpordeus
2. http://opavivara.com.br
3. http://vecana.webnode.com.br/
4. http://bit.do/agetrans
5. Blockchain is the main disruptive elemente behind Bitcoin’s financial techonology. It’s an open information verification system, working as a public ledger, where parties involved in a contract do not need to have a trusted bond between them, forming a platform for distributed consensus. The image of a transparent vault is often used to describe this mechanism that is a threat to any type of centralized system.
6. https://thebpit.org
7. https://terremoto.mx/prepared-screen

New bussiness: art in search of alternativa economic systems (Justine Ludwig, 2016)

Published on the portal The Miami Rail.

Prepared Screen (Fernando TIcoulat, 2016)

Publish on the occasion of the exhibition Prepared Screen, at Sé Galeria.

If there was a time when there was one analog and another digital experience, today there are no more boundaries between them. Uninterruptedly connected to the virtual while still living in the physical, our reality is composed by the overlapping of both dimensions. Given the abundance of imagery stimuli, it does not matter anymore if what we see is real or virtual, representative or manipulated, since in this hybrid condition all images are equally truth and fiction.

The exhibition Prepared Screen brings together artworks which starting point is the interest of artist Pedro Victor Brandão in the growing influence of technology on our actions, emotions and forms of collective organization. It is an investigation of the contemporary human experience and the digital bio-political structures that surrounds it. In addition, it recognizes a new technological paradigm in which the technique ceases to serve as prosthetic extensions of our body that only facilitated what we were already capable of doing. We were invaded by the machine and we now live inside it: a virtual space where we project ourselves and inhabit. In this context, while the artist questions the statute of the image, he also explores the impact of cybernetics and the politics of surveillance and their colonizing effect on the body and the psyche.

Considering the multiple ways in which the Internet shapes our social and commercial relationships, Pedro Victor Brandão approaches with acute critical thinking the interfaces that mediates the vast universe of zeros and ones, bits and bytes of the virtual space. From our cell phone to the ATM machine, more than mere luminous devices, such interfaces (and what they reproduce) are the most symbolic form of our era. Far from being free of intentionality and consequences, these artifacts, although inanimate, create certain types of behaviors. Each tool offers its users a specific way of viewing the world and interacting with others, according to the values and aspirations – benign or malignant – deposited in them.

Investigating the functions and possibilities of touch screens, softwares and applications, in detriment of the illusion and deceit of new technologies, Pedro Victor Brandão stimulates public awareness about the current hegemonic mechanisms of control and distribution of image and imageries. By showing what was not seen, correlating what was not correlated, the artist poetically and insightfully reveals the machine’s logical inadequacies while proposing forms of resistance out of its own resources, as a powerful social antidote. The fictions of this show does not intend to escape the world, nor does it offer answers or a final results, only the articulation of new statements that contribute to the formation of a sensible horizon outside of the common sense.

Speculations on the fifth income (Pedro Victor Brandão, 2016)

Published on the virtual magazine Between Crowds and Empires
(organized by Robin Resch), in 2016, and on EXTREMOPHILIA periodic (organized by Fabiane M. Borges), em 2018.

On exo-economics (Pedro Victor Brandão, 2016)

Published on the virtual magazine Between Crowds and Empires
(organized by Robin Resch), in 2016, and on EXTREMOPHILIA periodic (organized by Fabiane M. Borges), em 2018.

Soft Power of The Undelayable Will to Do Good (Agência Transitiva, 2015)

 A text by Pedro Victor Brandão. Maíra das Neves, and Kadija de Paula for Agência Transitiva, commissioned by Antje Majewski about her work “Entity” for the exhibition “Future Perfect”, curated by Angelika Stepken and Philipp Ziegler. “Future Perfect” is an itinerant exhibition organized by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) e.V. ifa is supported by Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Germany, by the State of Baden-Württemberg and its capital, Sttutgart. Executive production in Porto Alegre: ifa, Goethe-Institut, Governo do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (Secretaria Estadual da Cultura, Memorial do Rio Grande do Sul e MACRS). Support: MARGS.

Depois da Fonte [After the Fountain] (Maíra das Neves e Pedro Victor Brandão, 2014)

Presented at the exhibition Depois da Fonte [After the Fountain] at Portas Vilaseca Galeria, during ArtRio 2014 fair.

Depois da Fonte proposes to implement in Rio de Janeiro the model of a self-sufficient system with financial sculpture of Maíra das Neves and Pedro Victor Brandão. Since 2013 the two artists have been developing projects in partnership, on the fields of spatial studies, radical economics, and social experiments.

Depois da Fonte intends to produce natural and financial resources for community use, so to support the development of local artistic and scientific research. This system model requires a public or private site where a communal space can be started. There the artists will install the equipment to mine virtual currencies and start a communal fund.

Maíra das Neves and Pedro Victor Brandão present at ArtRio 2014 some possibilities of implementing this model in Rio de Janeiro. The depicted sites are considered as “ruins” by the local government. These “ruins” consist of wastelands that remain isolated from the street by its original historical façade. The artists’ ideas for these “ruins” here appear as fictional photopaintings as well as the mining rig sample – the computer the artists built – that is connected to a network of running algorithms.

Bitcoin is a currency based on distributed computing. It is decentralized, digital, and global. It has been created and maintained without bank or State control. Bitcoins can be “mined” by its very users and are exchanged online.

Depois da Fonte points out to a possible future. Maíra das Neves and Pedro Victor Brandão already implemented this model in Germany as the þit (https://thebpit.org) between last April and August, with outstanding results. Some of the photopaintings derived from the þit can also be seen at ArtRio 2014.

Depois da Fonte proposes a new fountain for the gush of wealth. It also proposes another way to administrate collectively produced resources. Depois da Fonte blurs the boundaries between public and private and activates collaborative modes of production and financing, which are neither hierarchical nor speculative. Depois da Fonte does not dam. Rather, it distributes.

Combined with intense real estate speculation, current plans of urban development compromise people’s rights to the city and undermine the creation of common spaces. The artists’ work of mediating public, labor, and space offers a counterpoint to these plans. Depois da Fonte requalifies the function of art.

Here visitors have the opportunity to invest in the project at its early stage. They can purchase the pieces on display and also exercise the democratic potential of a network economy, since Portas Vilaseca Galeria accepts traditional fiat money and cryptocurrencies likewise. To implement Depois da Fonte in Rio de Janeiro, the artists also seek for proprietors who are interested in experimenting different agreements to activate idle lots and buildings.

When the door of a ruin is open, Maíra das Neves and Pedro Victor Brandão will be able to implement the model as they recently did in Germany. They will be able to build other six cryptocurrency mining rigs so to start a local fund to develop communal activities in the lot. The activities will result from the wishes and skills of those involved. As we can see in the photopaintings, possibilities are many. There could be a communal garden, playground, urban bee keeping, but mainly there will be sociability and collective labor. For that, the artists are already activating local and international partners, such as Agência Transitiva (Rio de Janeiro), Wasteland Twinning Network (Germany and UK) e Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik (Germany).

On Bitcoin (Maíra das Neves e Pedro Victor Brandão, 2014)

Presented at the exhibition Depois da Fonte [After the Fountain] at Portas Vilaseca Galeria, during ArtRio 2014 fair.

Bitcoin (฿) is a technology and a currency based on distributed computing. It is decentralized, digital, and global. Bitcoins are created with no control by bank or states. They are traded online and can be spent worldwide. All the transactions are fast and of low cost.

Every Bitcoin (or any amount of Bitcoins) has a location on the web (address) and a secret access code (private key). Every address has a balance at any given time. This balance can be seen by anyone in the network by an innovative system called blockchain, but the Bitcoins can only be spent by someone who knows the private key to that address. In fact, when we say “storing Bitcoins” we say keeping private keys at a safe place where the holder can access them at any time. We call this storage a wallet.

When making a transaction, you provide the amount you want to send plus the address to which you want to send it, and then you sign it off with your private key – all these elements are pure data that are broadcast to the network (except the details of your private key). This transaction undergoes an intricate verification process, which assures that you actually own the Bitcoins you are trying to spend and that they arrive safely to the recipient’s wallet.

Each address is like a safe made of glass: everybody sees what’s inside but only you hold a private key to open and spend it . You can store your Bitcoins online, on your computer, or in your smartphone through a software. Addresses and private keys are long sequences of letters and numbers like this:

1C3ie36eAHCCfRnvUs8RXKC72aELSCNLfm

There are mainly three ways of acquiring Bitcoins. You can use money (EUR, USD, BRL) to make a SEPA or wire transfer to an online exchange website. The other way is to join in the network and provide an amount of computer power to run a process known as mining. You can also receive it directly from another person.

A developer (or group of developers) with the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto created the original Bitcoin algorithm and published it in a discussion forum in 2008. However, the currency itself is created, traded, and controlled by Bitcoin users, rather than by a central authority like a bank or a government.

Bitcoin is based on the principle of public verification of transactions: if many users see that a certain number of coins have been given by A to B, then this transaction is verified and recorded in a general ledger (the blockchain). People who do this virtual bookkeeping are called miners. They have two crucial roles: to maintain the security of the system and to create (mine) new bitcoins.

Each Bitcoin transaction is encrypted into a mathematical problem that the miner needs to process. This work involves millions of calculations per minute and therefore requires a strong mining hardware (or ‘rig’).

Within the context of one transaction, mining means finding the mathematical proof of a Bitcoin transfer and bundling it up with other transactions into a block.

One block contains many transactions (those of the past ten minutes) and when all these transactions are confirmed as valid we say that “a block is mined”. A new block is the result of the decentralized computing effort of many rigs operating around the world.

Miners do this work in exchange for a reward which is a fixed number of Bitcoins created with the mining of a new block. The first miner (or mining pool) to find the block reaps the reward (presently, 25 Bitcoins). To the date, block rewards are the main income source for miners – and the only form of creating new bitcoins. Anyone can become a miner and build a mining rig, dedicate some time, effort, and money (for the equipment and energy costs) to join a mining pool and start confirming blocks.

This disruptive technology is open source and any user with programming skills can create a new crypto-currency. So far, there are more than 130 alternate crypto-currencies to Bitcoin circulating through the Internet. On websites like https://coinality.com/https://coinmap.org/, and https://bitcoin.travel/ you can check where Bitcoins are accepted. Plataforms like https://coinfunder.com/ and https://ethereum.org/ are using the distributed consensus concept to create new grounds for economic and social relations based on decentralization of power. Portas Vilaseca Galeria is now accepting Bitcoins and Litecoins for the acquisition of works. The artists Maíra das Neves and Pedro Victor Brandão are employing this technology to generate resources beyond the ordinary sources. Also, they seek to use them according to common interest, instead of the illegal and selfish uses normally associated to cash and virtual money.

• To download a wallet, you can choose from the following links:

Coin Pocket: IPhone – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id885640234?mt=8
Bitcoin Wallet: Android – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.schildbach.wallet
Bitcoin Core: Mac, Linux, and Windows – https://bitcoin.org/en/download
MultiBit: a lightweight wallet of quick installation for Mac, Linux, and Windows – https://multibit.org
Blockchain: online storage – https://blockchain.info/de/wallet

• Listed below, there are three Bitcoin online exchanges, where you can open an account:

https://bitstamp.net (UK and EU)
https://coinbase.com/ (USA)
https://mercadobitcoin.com.br (Brazil)

• Other interesting links:

https://bitcoinwisdom.com – Live graphs of Bitcoin prices in major stock exchanges.
https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Main_Page – A wiki on crypto-currencies informations.
https://bitcointalk.org/ – Discussion forum with multiple sessions to discuss crypto-economy.

“The legend of Thyth, the Giant” or “What lays underneath the þit” (Maíra das Neves and Pedro Victor Brandão, 2014)

escrito e apresentado durante o desenvolvimento do projeto the þit, published
on the compilation TCNXMNSM (organizaed by Fabiane M. Borges)

In ancient times, when the Haard1 woods were still untouched, an old lady there lived with her pet owl in a simple stone hut hidden by a fence of spiky bushes.

Many generations later, in these same woods, there was a young Förster2 who loved the Waldeinsamkeit3 feeling. One day after a long meditation on the Hochsitz4 he heard a very loud sound coming from the Teufelstein5 direction. He ran there as fast as he could, and for some reason the dirt was all up in the air as if the stone had moved! Through the dirt cloud he could spot something shining on the ground. It was an old shiny box, made of the most beautiful stone. In it, he found some hand written notes on old thin paper. Most parts were rotten, but he could read some excerpts. He looked around to be sure he was all alone. With trembling fingers he untangled the delicate pieces. Carefully, he drew the first one, which read:

“Thunder storm. Clouds roll around the black sky, scary winds twirl trees away. Lightning bolts explode in different colors. They are his thorn. Every now and then he releases his power of chaos. Geneviève is here inside, peacefully and graciously tearing a mouse apart. I never fear storms either. I never fear thunders or lightening. I have my Donnerbarts6 on my rooftop and a Schlehe fence, that’s how the giant recognizes me as his friend, so he will never smash us down in a stormy night.”

The young Förster knew of these plants. The Donnerbarte are the sempervivum and the Schlehe is that spiky little tree, known for that old time liquor. But he’d never heard that one day these plants were known for having special protection powers, or that they were found in many roofs. Superstition, so these texts must be really old, he thought. A second fragment:

“(…) and so, on this day I celebrate having found my new roof. For here I shall be distant of the eyes of men, of the eyes of power. Here I shall be free to live as I please, and carry on with my practice. The villa I lived in for the last fifty years is not safe anymore. I am already a very old woman so nobody minds me much, but now that that poor Anna Spiekermann7 has met her tragic death, I cannot risk being hunted too. Not long ago, men like these left corpses of rebels rotting in Münster’s cages8, way up high, at everyone’s sight. No, I shall not be hunted! I see a curtain of inhumanity, bigger than the seas, which have fallen upon the entire world. Happy place now is only here where I shall now live, alone, with the plants that protect and heal me and my good friend, Geneviève.”

“Oh giant, giant in the woods, giant in the winds, giant in the sky and stars. Oh, giant in the mouse, giant in the cat, giant in the groundhog, giant in the bull, giant in the bear and giant in the owl! Every eye shall light your sight and every bone will raise your body. Every heart and every soul twirling and lifting huge rocks as if they were a handful of sand. Once again you shall raise from underground, strengthened by these chants and by this flesh I offer thee , (…)”

The young Förster felt a freezing shiver along his spine. Not because of the giant, or the old woman who seemed to be a witch, for he knew them to be characters of old times tales. But as for Geneviève, well, he shivered since he knew that the owls are not what they seem. Even though, as brave as he was, he took a deep breath and resumed reading, still sitting by the Teufelstein at the feeble light of the autumn sunset.The next fragment seemed to describe a ferocious fight:

(…) screams, heads and despair. Such a huge beast with the strength of a thousand men and a bottomless hunger. With a long and wet tail, entangled with seaweed, his body covered with smaller hungry creatures. Its monstrous hands, each one larger than a grown man, tossing trees and huge stones away so it could reach Thyth, the giant. And so it moved, leaving behind big holes in the ground, as enormous as mountains in reverse. People ran in panic, screaming and praying for their lives. Meanwhile, the two creatures continue throwing rocks, as big as churches, on one another. From across the hills, their blows – this part he cannot read – the newborn monster persecuted Thyth across many lands, from the sunny to the snowy, eager for his blood. Its footprints were so deep that rainwater collected in them, shaping fresh boundaries. Thyth was hurt and weak, sick of his wounds and of his heart. He could not live under a master; he would never be a slave. So Thyth, the giant of a thousand spirits, would fight to the very end. Two nights later, under a moonless sky, the two colossal creatures met in the Haard and clanged into each other, striking one another with all their might. Thyth roared in anger, and smashed the other giant’s jaw with his last lightening. But that last blow could not defeat his opponent. He was already too weak; his thousand spirits had already started to disengage from his formation. The mighty powers of the giant evaporated in a centripetal movement, turned him into a pebble and put him to sleep in the depths of the underground.”

So Thyth, the giant of chaos, the holder of tearful thorns and lightning bolts had been defeated. The young Förster could still not picture what kind of creature had defeated such a giant. Who, or what could be strong and powerful enough to defeat Thyth? Curious and excited, he went on reading:

I remember as if it had happened yesterday. Who could ever forget such a dreadful event? After the fight, the ground and stones were moved around, the trees torn apart. The clouds were heavy in grief, and nobody could hear a sound. Not a bird, not even the sound of leaves on the wind. Nature seemed to be in dreadful astonishment, whereas people were celebrating. People have always seen Thyth as a high maintenance being to live with. This new ruler was way easier to deal with, or so they seemed to believe. But nature knows better. They shall learn, some day.”

As much as the giant tried to fight back, it was difficult to escape the tentacles of that colossal, pyramid shaped sea creature, with a crowned head sustained by uncountable souls stepping over each other. This creature had been evoked, formed and fed by weak souls. It is the capturer of dreams. I see it will walk the earth for many centuries to come.”

It has all the power now. Wherever there is man, there will be its power. It now decides and rules everything. It appears to be good, it promises to end with the war of all against all. It even convinces nature to go against nature, justifying it as human evolution. It has raised above all living creatures. Such poor souls, I see fathers and daughters, workers and beggars, young and old, all abdicate their freedom because they fear chaos. In all lands, and even in the furthest lands, all people have surrendered to this cruel monster.”

What monster would that be, the young Förster wondered. Could it be real? Would it still be living and ruling today? Another piece:

In the beginning of times, in the beginning of nature, Thyth was born. He was a giant force composed by a multitude of individual forces living in harmony. One day, a little grain of sand forgot that it was only a part of the giant, stretched its neck up and looked down at everything around it, declaring itself to be a giant. From that day on, an endless war began, all fighting against all. That’s when the giant was put to sleep for the first time. Quite a great ignorant was the first who served another. Dear Thyth, the giant of thorns! Kings, princes, and priests have always been afraid of thee. They have always feared the power of the thousand free spirits within thee. In their tyranny, they protect the powerful and the rich from the unsatisfying hunger of the giant. Thyth, giant of diversity, giant by nature, so many seek your destruction!”

The last piece now was laying in his hand. His heart filled with confusion and mixed feelings. His soul had a soft feeling of uncertainty. Daylight was almost gone. He could barely see, but had a flashlight next to Hochsitz, and so he went back, he couldn’t wait to read it. Once he reached the top of the hill, he lit on the flashlight. It was the only beam of light visible from a distance. It was also a moonless night. As he started reading, he could sense: it was some sort of prophecy.

The bear will grab the bull by the long tail.
The base so weak will collapse the pyramid.
No more metal sovereignty, a new era of lightning Strom shall begin.
Millions of groundhogs reveal an early spring in a block chain that will wake the giant up.”

Legend recovered and translated by
Maíra das Neves and Pedro Victor Brandão
With the collaboration of Kadija de Paula
and Bettina Lehnert – City Archive of Oer-Erkenschwick.
First public reading by Nadine Molatta and Ralf Rieder at the
opening celebration of the park the þit in the center of Oer-Erkenschwick, Germany, 2014.


1 Woods of Oer-Erkenschwick, the city where the þit took place.

2 Ranger.

3 Solitude of the forest.

4 Hunter’s perch.

5 Rock of the devil.

6 Thunder beards.

7 The last witch killed by Inquisition in the region of Recklinghausen, in 1706.

8 Germany’s northwestern city where in 1533 there was the Anabaptists rebellionwho lived in communal regime for over a year until their leaders were tortured and murdered in publicand their bodies were exposed and left to rot in cages on the top of Münster Cathedral as a warning to other potential rebels. The cages remain today in the same place.

Deviations in the Landscape (Pedro Victor Brandão, 2012)

published on the occasion of the exhibition Desvios na Paisagem [Deviations in the Landscape]
at Portas Vilaseca Galeria

This exhibition presents pictorial senses after alterations in the procedures of the photographic system, leading the view of the public to landscapes created in dilated times. There is the deviation of the domain of the visible from its objective aspect. The set of series points to questioning over permanence, selective urbanity, visibility, haphazardness, and the manipulable nature of today’s technical image. The works have been created between 2008 and 2012 and they are part of a major research about different processes of generation, construction, and understanding of images. The observations of the environment happen as a contiguous process and the use of photography and its devices build field of signification between visuality and memory.

Two of the five series shown take advantage of random processes in their creation. Dupla Paisagem [Double Landscape] is presented here in three diptychs. Each one of them comprise a time lapse of ten years, when the initial year is the date of the capture of the image and the final years corresponds to the year when the film was developed and had their copies printed. In this latency period, colonies of mold were cultivated inside the spools. This series is like a contaminated engine where traces of the past are overlapped by this biological variation, producing unpredictable results: rhizomes in these test-landscapes (moon or sun, hillside and some veiled photograms) totally disfigures the indicial sense, in a planned chaotic occupation, but not controlled.

Another self-organized procedure is used to create Vista para o Nada [View from Nothing]. I show two images of this series where the suggestion of landscape can take the reader to imagine possible scenes. There is no instant depicted. The image comes from the interaction of a developing liquid between a negative and a positive of expired instant photographic films previously veiled by daylight. With an original measuring 4×5 inches, chemical landscapes get fractal dimensions when they are enlarged up to 1400%.

From chemical to numeric, the Não Civilizada [Uncivilized] series also narrows the ties of photography with painting in a moment of liquefied realization in bits. In nine prints I want to remember that architecture also has its own expiration dates. These pieces are landscapes of a time that has never happened. Any trace of civilization is removed in an operation of re-synthesis, compiled by a plug-in; and applied as a routine of retouching by which I seek to construct the visibility of an inexistent order (that could take place in some inhabited past or in a distant future, already without ruins).

clock_gettime(CLOCK_REALTIME, &perf_tmp);
perf_edge_points -= perf_tmp.tv_nsec + 1000000000LL*perf_tmp.tv_sec;
// fill edge_points with points that are near already filled points
// that ensures inward propagation
// first element in pair is complexity of point neighbourhood
vector<pair<int, coordinates=””>> edge_points(0);
get_edge_points(data_points, edge_points);
size_t edge_points_size = edge_points.size();</pair<int,>

(A fragment of the algorithm code of Resynthesizer)

This series reflects about the actual urban order applied with shock, defining one urbanity without margins, as if all the subjectivities of the city had to pass by an operation center. The use and the understanding of the urban space are conditioned to the creation of an image of fake stability, which is as much virtual as the tampering digitally processed.

Also thinking about oblivion processes, I develop since 2010 the Curta [Short] series, made by unfixed photographs exposed to ultraviolet light, started as an investigation on perenniality and depletion of persistent social practices in the contemporary world. The photographic support that deteriorates with agility serves as a metaphor to uncertainty (or misgiving) about the concepts imprinted on it. In the image presented here, I open the scope of this series to the discussion about speculated territories. In the image, one can see a view of the center of the city of Rio de Janeiro inside the construction site of “Museu do Amanhã” [Museum of the Tomorrow], which is a enterprise imported as a hypertechonologic ship that, when it is finished, promises to take the spectator to the future year of 2061. This museum is an icon to the consortial urban operation “Porto Maravilha” [Marvelous Port], which is actually the bigger public-private partnership in Latin America.

The so called “urban re-qualification” associates private contractors and a federal bank to various spheres of public municipal administration and the new characteristics of the region will be defined exclusively by the real estate market, given that the present expulsion of poor dwellers to grant the permanence of an elite of new habitants-owners in front of the sea, besides rapturous tourists that come from cruise trips. Real estate investment security papers warm up the market over an authentic sell of the public space, at the same time that new ruins are announced. Once completely faded, the image works as a weak sign of what one day was a present of commodification of a communal territory.

By last, I expose instants of imminent fall; frozen in WYBINWYS (what you buy is not what you see). This title comes from a joke with the acronym WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), that in computer science equals every friendly software interface, where the edition that one user makes in the screen corresponds to the final result in a file. Behind a refractive pellicle refurbished from broken monitors there are scenes where the force of gravity is determinant. The pellicle prevent that the small photographs can be seen from the front. Without an effort of peripheral vision, a hurried observer could only perceive a precarious support. Maybe there is a negation of the seduction power of images to contest its place in a market of ambiguities.

All five series creates a demand for reading. I seek to pour in time and space to confuse the pure photographic objectivity and point out the deconstruction of the instant. Leaving aside the realities that photography could confirm, along with their representative capacities, I aim to make the readers look more carefully to the defects and subtle qualities of the images and of the imaginary that surround them.

The Big Wave (Raphael Fonseca, 2011)

Publicado in portuguese at the blog https://gabinetedejeronimo.blogspot.com/

Between October 11th and November 6th is realized the exhibition “Pintura Antifurto”[Anti-theft Painting], by Pedro Victor Brandão, at Casa França-Brasil, at the center of Rio de Janeiro. It is another edition of the project Ocupação Cofre [Vault Occupation], by which contemporary artist from different generations deal with the space designated to the vault of the building projected by Grandjean de Montigny, that in the past was part of the Praça do Comércio [Square of the Commerce] and headquarters of the Alfândega [Customhouse] of the carioca port.

The work of the artist, at first instance, is different of previous occupation due to its explicit dialogue with the history of our patrimony. From the door it is possible to see a rectangle (56×156 cm) at the spectator’s eye level that fits the horizontal space of the front wall. Looking closely, we perceive that four rows of Real’s banknote images embody the geometric form. Twenty four banknotes by each line. Magenta and white are the tones of this mosaic. Below there is a stand where a series of these notes where available to the spectator, since the day of the opening. Now we deal with the emptiness such as the white of this “flag” of twenty and fifty Real banknotes. The recoded turn of the currency into the (phantasmatic) sacred space of the vault and now destined to contemporary art.

We can read this work through the relation between art and politics. Pedro Victor could individually shoot banknotes stained by the “anti-theft liquid” present at some ATM’s. In an attempt to break the structure of the machine, usually with the use of explosives, a magenta coloured liquid is released, impregnating the money and, therefore, due to the recent determination of the Central Bank, transforming it into mere paper. The image of the object resultant of a crime is transformed into art. That which legally has no more financial value goes back to its initial state; elevated to art status, it is likely to have value again, but already within the art market. Adding to the irony of this image, the artist lets the audience take home, free of charge, a particle of the mosaic. These spectators become collectors and, due to lack of a daily reposition of these copies (signed and serialized in the verse), they can now speculate on the possible values for their small works of art.

By what other means of access, however, can we read this exposition? Let’s go back to its titled: “anti-theft painting”. Is there any painting exhibited here? No, we have the photographic record of these notes that were not painted by chance (because of the intension of the violation), but in a “random” way. This work was built collaboratively; a robbery was necessary to happen so that these notes were stained. The ways how these ATM’s were violated are proportional to the different kind of magenta paintings. There is some kind of tension between photography and painting, technical and “artisanal” (only in pictorial title and not in the act, since it is a machine that performs the painting, even if triggered manually by humans). After completing the photographic clicks, Pedro Victor had a curatorial work: he chose the images that would give a body to his installation and with them made explicit the contrast between the stain and raw note. Thus, on the gallery wall we have the confrontation amid the color and the trace of the banknote’s death. The bones still deteriorate, but that does not make much difference; the corpse is already exposed.

Formally, the organization of these white areas, which refer to layers of the same image, as if someone had ripped its surface, reminds of the painting of the so called “abstract expressionism.” An “organized disorder” and a weight thought to the colors seen, within this historical period to work, punctually at Clyfford Still’s work. Stalactites, mountains or fable? Ultimately, landscape. The horizontal character of the image contributes to this apprehension. Its format dialogues directly with the classical landscape painting, monumental or private, but always with the intention to be a window and show the public the extent of an area, its panorama.

This way of building the visuality was received and configured by the still incipient photography during the nineteenth century. From one Victor to another. One of the photographs taken by Victor Frond subsequently transformed into lithography for the book “Picturesque Brazil” (1858-1861), is an overview of the “Entry of Guanabara Bay.” The immensity of the sky, the discreet but lush carioca tropical landscape and the vessels queued to approach, possibly, the Port of Rio de Janeiro. And where is held the exhibition of Pedro Victor Brandão? Just in the building that once the Customs of that port was headquartered. Just as ATMs and banks, ports are also spaces of financial exchange. Accordingly, the detached notes offered by the artist become small postcards of his (now) fictional landscape. The carioca nature is equally anti-theft; any attempt to record it will always be mere trace, as well as those fragments of photo paper. From the foreign and exoticizing look of an artist about a city to the target on the status quo of violence and economy in the safe harbor of another photographer.

In the bottom of the central image of “Anti-theft Painting”, the contrast occurs in a punctual way: small “white stains” alongside of what really is the stained area; above, an increased contrast given by the continuous extension of white. The wet sand after encountering the water and a big wave is announced between the horizon and the margin. Tamarins are no longer golden, ounces have their spots erased. There is no more space for the calm apprehension of Guanabara Bay. It is necessary to swim against the tide, climb this big wave and prevent it from becoming a social seaquake.

forget, explode, signalize (Bernardo Mosqueira, 2010)

Published in the entre-vistas exhibition’s catalog

I was going to sleep. Pedro was waking up. Or the opposite. We crossed with each other, in this early morning, at the kitchen of a hostel in the Big Pinheiros which is São Paulo. After five minutes of conversation, the following question came: “Would art be war taken to the last consequences?”. The works of Pedro Victor Brandão presented at the exhibition “entre-vistas”, realized after the conclusion of the Programa Aprofundamento [Advanced Studies Program] of the School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage, can be considerate (if we stay aware of the radicalization of the (re)action about what is much believed) time-bombs that use artistic poetic as explosive.

One of the works showed, a continuation of the Alicerce Infiltrado [Infiltrated Foundation] series, is a set of ten photographs that shows liquen colonies growing on the infiltrated walls of the same school. They are symbiotic processes of fungus and bacteria that, enjoying the instability of a certain medium, create, collectively, the necessary stability for their living and reproduction. The sharp, accurate and precise technique results in registries of chaotic, colourful and numerous melanomas that can hide bone or brain metastasis.

Being part of a group that particularly discussed the very same institution where he studied, Brandão knows his creation of new short circuits from gazes as a form of action that holds a great transformative force.

Another work exhibited at this show, Sem Título #2 (Tempos Autorais) [Untitled #2 (Authorial Times)], from the Curta [Short] series; is an unfixed gelatin silver print that comments the “celebration” for the 300 years of the first copyright law (the Statute of Anne Reginæ, in UK), placed side by side with the present brazilian copyright law: one of the most restrictive of the world. The comparison announces the enormous and strange resemblance. Without being fixed, in 40 days, the image exposed to the sunlight disappears.

On the top of the image, a gray scale acts as a time-scale: it is the counter of the poetic time bomb which holds the vectorized traces in the conception. When the difference between what was black and what was white ends, the wick burns out. Pedro creates his works as aesthetical studies, transformative criptoparanoigraphed messages, powerfully effective and affective pieces, that, maybe, pretended the nonexistent immateriality, but, indeed, reach the physical impermanence.

Brandão makes explicit a frustrated struggle by the fossilization of time. It is, yet, the old fight of the man against his inevitable end. But the transformation strengthens! The institutional monument with all its conservative forces does not wins the life that runs. It is the liquens that tint the monumental grays created to eternize its ideological intentions of origin. It is the images that are “finite, much more than beautiful, will stay”.

Someday later, I was going to beach and Pedro was coming back. Or the opposite. In this encounter, in a carioca breath of sea air, we were discussing, silly, about the artist and the contemporary. He once believed that the artistic activity was a lonely work. I did not. In the end, we agreed that the artist with a real contemporary activity would not be only an assimilator of his time (“anthem of the race”). The contemporary artist should be a signalizer of actual obscurities.

With the works showed in this exhibition, Pedro signalizes forgetfulness as an ontological entity, as a necessary practice and as inevitable process. Brandão blends the endogenous image of fading to the exogenous image of the erasure. By officering the fading, but without framing it, he makes clear that the process happens in the hole space. He still evinces the parallel between memory and image, the fading and the forgetting and he does that by stitching universal questions of mankind to the local and temporal questions that he lives.

I reclaimed, yet at the seashore, and he assumed: “Yes, this sense of permanence is quite critical and tolerant. We were talking about a possible time, past or future. The lonely activity was that one where the artist creates imageries, perceives obscurities and assimilate them historically. It was. Now, we condivide our ethics and aesthetics”. Oh good! At least, that’s what “I remember now. Before I remembered of another. One day will come when none will be remembered. Then in the same forgetfulness they will fuse”.