The Law of Falling Bodies

Photography has never abandoned its historical relationship with the practice of portraiture. The condition of relating to reality in a scientific way – optically, chemically, mechanically fracturing – eliminated, as was conventionally agreed, the error of human interpretation. The portrait, then freed from subjectivity by the camera lens, would crystallize faces, which would become objects of mnemonics. The image that is created separates two sides: here and there. The portrayed and the observer (two bodies) who, despite this boundary between spaces, look at each other in a constant ricochet. They presuppose, however, some previous rules: that before, photographer and character (two bodies) meet in the same space and at the same time.

The “law of falling bodies”, theorized by Galileo at the end of the 16th century, defends that all objects fall with a constant acceleration, since the effect of gravity is equivalent for all bodies that are at the same height. His law runs counter to our common sense: a paper ball should not fall at the same speed as a stone. It doesn't make sense, but it happens. Since Aristotle (4th century BC) it was believed that a weight twice as much as another would take half the time to land. With Galileo, knowledge comes from experimentation.

In “Stories about me”, Carla Cabanas revisits themes that are dear to her: memory and portraits. But instead of using an Aristotelian method on these matters, it becomes experimental. In this encounter with the subject, the camera becomes a recorder that records the entire response to the request “tell a story about me”. A pin hole does not use lenses, has no mechanical components, nor can it generate images from short breaks in time. In the end there are no recognizable faces left. It is not a work so that the subject's memory will last, but to examine what lingers in his memory about the artist. Then the portrait becomes a self-portrait: an image that is neither here nor there within itself.

We will know nothing about the shared narrative. It is the result of the encounter of two bodies in a suspended fall, in space and time, experienced simultaneously, during the duration of a story. And everything lands at the same time.


Valter Ventura
for the exhibition "Stories about me"
Carla Cabanas
Lisbon, 2010