Aim, shoot, capture, take. Words with a double meaning that are related to two seemingly different universes but whose movements and actions, when seen, are formidably similar. Hunting and photography share the same lexicon which flows into two different discourses. As Wittgenstein noted, there are innumerable different language-driven arrays, and the meaning of words, phrases, dialogues comes from the activity or use. Language is culturally, socially and historically dependent on the context of enunciation and on the situation in which it is applied and it cannot be scrutinized and understood as an island.
When one witnesses the act of hunting and photographing, the substantial difference is that the first operates in the order of the physical and the second in the visual realm. Nevertheless, both make a decision about the time and space in which they take place and also intend to capture and keep something of the real. In the case of the photographer, they use the camera, their weapon, to choose a fragment of the visible world, which they aim, frame, focus and then shoot, record and capture. This referent is, in Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida (1980), known as spectrum. While also alluding to this author, photography contains an objective element, a studium, but also something subjective, a punctum. This element, a specific and unique detail, unique to each observer, captures precisely the viewer, their glance and their attention. Photography can be perceived as something with a dual ability to grasp. For all this, the act of photographing, unlike hunting, does not exist only in the palpable and physical world. Quite the opposite, it extends itself and inhabits the different spheres and universes, real and fictional, psychological and even spiritual. Photography exists in the dimensions where it is created and welcomed, conceived and experienced, overcoming the conditions and limitations of ephemerality and prolonging itself both temporally and spatially.
Valter Ventura’s work (Lisbon, 1979) is plural, with interpretive relations, significations and possibilities. The artist produces photos and exposes them side by side in balanced and dynamic compositions, not particularly narrative, but through which the images establish unremitting dialogues, connections and flows made of visual and conceptual information. His work displays a clear visual and imaginary uniqueness through admirable technical and aesthetic qualities. It wins over the audience and occupies their memory at Kubikgallery, with a beautiful and unprecedented exhibition inaugurated on November 24 and open until January 19, 2019.
Valter Ventura encountered the correlation between hunting and photography years ago, something that precedes the concepts of the latter, which took place around 1839. For instance, he tells us that the first portable record-keeping machine of the real, created by Étienne-Jules Marey, was known as “chronophotographic gun”. The connection between both fields, unexpected and then obvious, mesmerized him and propelled his reflection and study. In 2015, when taking part in Alvito’s Artistic Residences, Valter was met with the possibility of approaching and experiencing the rural and agricultural realm in every aspect of it, from harvesting to animal hunting. In that area, in a shooting range, he found fragments of plates that had served as targets for shooting drills. Valter gathered the objects, taking them out of their context and looked at them as isolated elements, identifying their aesthetic and plastic potentialities. He rebuilt the 12 discs and then photographed them, whose outcome is the Snapshot photographic composition, which originally meant “instinctive shooting”, yet another hunting expression adopted by photography.
His participation and stay in Alvito represented the perfect opportunity for the artist to extend the theoretical and practical understanding of an issue that had startled him. He then developed a particular and complex research, reflected in an equally unique and dense artistic output that has been part of his life until now, always photographically materialized. The artistic practice is the object of study, the problematized technique and, also, the analysis tool itself. Apparently, photography is the form of imagery that has taken Valter into the art universe. The cameras entranced him and his ability to work and create them proved to be innate, something evident in his work and reflected in the way his career has been acknowledged and appreciated in today’s Portuguese photography scene.
Valter Ventura’s current exhibition is titled Compêndio de Observações Fotográficas – e outras anotações sobre coisas que parecem ser mas não são (Compendium of Photographic Observations – and other notes about things that seemed to be but are not), where Snapshot and several other pieces of his most recent work are exhibited. It is side-kicked by a Sérgio Fernandes’ work, installed at Kubikulo, an area of intervention that acquires brand-new expressions alongside the exhibitions shown in the gallery. The spaces and objects of artists establish a dialogue and wait for the opportunity to do the same with their audience.
Constança Babo (researcher and art critic)
for the exhibition «Compendium of Photographic Observations – and other notes on things that seem to be but are not».