[spectre] The Lost Cemetery of Images. A Conversation with Carlos Casas

Redazione Digicult redazione at digicult.it
Thu Jan 27 11:54:57 CET 2011

Sorry for any crosspostings

Digicult presents:

by Pia Bolognesi

Digimag 60 - January 2011

The use of archive material is a tendency which has established itself in 
the last few years as a common practice in audiovisual contaminations. It is 
an ongoing search which paves the road to countless approaches to the work, 
as well as involving the individuality of the artist in the reprocessing of 
traces and memories in an imagination which is set on the present. With 
Cemetery (Archive Works), inaugurated on 28 October and ongoing until 14 
January at the Marsèlleria in Milan, Carlos Casas steps onto this path at 
its edges, balancing between visual anthropology and rethinking images as a 
form of trans-cultural memory.

The work of Casas - filmmaker, video artist and sound experimenter - ranges 
from documentaries on the furthest reaches of the Earth (Aral, Fishing in an 
Invisible Sea; Hunters since the Beginning of Time; Solitude at the End of 
the World) to pure, exploratory research of sounds and images. This 
materializes in the experience of the Fieldworks and of the Archive Works - 
projects developed at the same time as the making of the films, which Casas 
uses to probe field research as he continues to mix different languages.

The Fieldworks come into being in 2001, during a journey to Tierra del Fuego 
for the preparation of Solitude at the End of the World, as a series of 
free, anti-narrative notes in which the artist takes the time to plunge his 
gaze into the meaning of the place, of the landscape, without drawing on the 
need for the definition of a complete story. Abstract fragments with an 
essential grammar, in which the processed ambient sound goes over the hidden 
connection with the image and defines it (each acoustic episode is made up 
of live recorded short and medium AM/FM radio waves).

For the Archive Works, on the other hand, the approach is shifted to the 
opposite front; the discovery of the geography occurs through preexisting 
film material. Here, too, we have a physical study of the places that Casas 
has chosen to document occurring through the examination of the modes of 
analysis with which these places have been represented, used and 
diegetically manipulated through classic and contemporary films. The Archive 
Works, created between 2002 and 2010, are dreamlike inspections, maps of 
shared imagination, memories of the visions which have shaped the author's 
gaze, preliminary sketchbooks to study language and sound solutions for 
films which are coming to life from other films, where the visual material 
is toned through an ongoing iconographic re-absorption.

The search for an igniting image, where everything is born and which holds 
within the tensions and archetypal expressions of the vastness of the 
material being used, is a constant practice in the Archive Works. It fits in 
perfectly with the mode of production that Casas defines in a non dissimilar 
manner in his documentaries. This form of survival and trans-mnemonic 
reorganization extensively concerns a policy of authorial research, 
traceable especially where it is made least evident: All my films are an 
image hunt, a journey to envision again, a path to enlightenment, a quest 
for that first image that ignites imagination, that lives inside and wants 
to reach out again throughout the years - for all such images that are part 
of ourselves and combine to form our inner life. [1]

With Cemetery, a project still in progress presented at Netmage last January 
and now at Marsèlleria in its most recent, previously undisclosed version 
(which includes a third part undergoing further development), we follow the 
journey to an elephant cemetery on the border between India and Nepal, on 
the trace of Maharajah Joodha Shumshere. The installation complex is shaped 
like the remote journal of a journey which is being continually defined, 
conceived as a monument to memory and structured through a variety of 
materials which enter into a dialogue with the architectural dimension of 
the exhibition space, cheating it of its limiting role and opening up a 
range of possibilities for enjoyment which is free from environmental 

There is a direct link between personal writing and collective reading 
which, as its reference point, calls forth the perceptive and symptomal 
model of iconographic survival. [2]

This implies analyzing the evolution of the forms as a set of tension 
processes, features of evidence and features of the unthought-of, that which 
remains and returns from the iconographic form itself. This indication is 
not incidental; it defines the composition of the images of Elephant Journey 
and Elephant Cave, where the stratified use of fades traces a temporal mark 
constantly working on the reconstruction of the present.


Complete article & interview to Carlos Casas:

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