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Ao encontro de [To the encounter of] features images that reinforce the complex nature of solitary dialogues. They echo, to some extent, the question developed by Virginia Woolf about the subject who is talking to him- or herself: “But when the self speaks with the self, who is speaking?” Rather than answering the question, it seems that the images are more concerned about dealing with the need of fragmenting the parts that compose each individual so that the plural voices can emerge, speak, silence or converse with each other. In fact, among the hundreds of people  participating in the exhibition, a few of them are related: the mother and her infant son, elderly people sitting on a bench in a public square waiting for another sunset, a small group of youths striding shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk, two women who cross the field of view of a lady observing the accelerated time around her, two guys in an embrace while they contemplate the world through a cell phone screen, children at play pretending to have wings – some of them ready to take flight. Or even a group of protesters struggling against discrimination and the rise of authoritarian tyrannies. It seems that the protesters are seeking to recover their right to fly, still preserved in the group of children.

Among the massive quantity of isolated figures, possible bodily contact is possible with the exhibition visitor, through which the succession of complementary instants gives rise to a spectrum of vulnerable, lyrical,

festive, commonplace and doubtful sensations. It is in this context that

Carol comes close to Cleide, and the latter, in turn, to Maia, Ayra, Tito, Bertha, Samuel, Ligia, Douglas, Malia and Rafa. They are bodies and existences separated by oceans and continents, situated in the assembly

set up in Uberlândia. In fact, the streets of different parts of the world

are sheltered in the artist’s birth city, in a building that reflects the desire

of architecture coordinated with the thought that understands it as

an extension of the public space. The void that shelters the fictions of

the exhibition contains the street and its passersby, strangenesses, pauses and struggles, situated in foreign territories and on the city block beside

it. Everything is thus put into play; the struggle with each figure invites

the imagination to generate narratives apart from the images, able to transform suspended biographies, depending on the Other in order to

be reinvented.

Another important aspect in Ao encontro de regards the fact that the project takes as its title the idiomatic expression commonly used in an awkward manner in our country. By exploring the jumble of verbs such as to approach and to collide, the exhibition emphasizes the fragmentation of the self to give rise to fertile individual encounters that will be able to reformulate communitarian experiences. This is possible since the confusion in the use of the expressions ao encontro de [“to the encounter of” – and denoting agreement] and de encontro a [“of encounter with” – but denoting discord] is a two-way street in the exhibition. It is the slice of the landscape that allows one to go ahead while providing the return path at the same time. And it understands the photographic act as an expression of intimacies crossed through by public spaces. Thus the importance of the ambiguity contained in the bouquet of flowers in the hand of a walking gentleman, in the indignation written on the palms of the hands of a young woman, in the contemplative state of monks, and in Tereza’s reading in a train car.

In times of social isolation due to the threat to life at each corner of the planet, going to the encounter with alterity requires a series of measures in order to contain the contagions that transform the Other into a figure

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fragilized by the invisible. The project Ao encontro de is therefore considered as the testimony of existences that are reverted to readings furnished at first sight by the image. As though the main thrust were the exercise of considering other narratives for figures who wear masks, for the curious look of the girl, or for the attentive reading of Tereza, seated in a train car while waiting to arrive at the station in which she will have to disembark. Her look at the newspaper found on her seat – probably left by some traveler who was there before her – reveals images that provide her with memories of a part of herself, lost in some corner of her memory. While she raises her eyes to see how far the train has traveled, another part of herself is brought back to her childhood in a small town in the interior of another country, with a different culture and language from the one she adopted in her early youth. By approaching the capture of moments of people’s lives in movement and prompting inventive readings, with dramatic plots for each figure, this exhibition becomes an open field for the sharing of experiences that define people as sensitive organisms wrapped in courage, fragility, terror and hope.

Josué Mattos

Translated by John Norman

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