Tangent Observatory

The exhibition “Observatorio de tangentes” [Tangent Observatory], presented by the artist Valter Ventura in the SONAE room in the MNAC, is part of an ongoing investigative approach to the historical condition of photography as the dominant device for the production of images in modernity at a time when the nature of photography and its survival as a conceptually independent visual system is shaken by the technological evolution of the image and by its dislocation in the contemporary communication system.


Ventura departs from physician and inventor Étienne-Jules Marey’s (1830-1904) historical invention from 1882, the Fusil Photographique [Photographic Rifle] - a rifle-shaped camera capable of simultaneously capturing 12 frames in one image. Ventura investigates the invention’s impact on the history of photography and on studies of the image that led to the invention of cinema in order to arrive at a more abstract and immaterial understanding of the act of photography.


The exhibition includes photographs, objects and a video, but more than images, objects or actions, what Valter Ventura draws on in this exhibition is the relationships, connections and intersections that are produced between the works - the semantic or semiotic “tangents” (a term so often associated with shooting and hunting) - which run in parallel to the multiple relations that photography has established with other fields of knowledge, ideologies and social mythologies.


The relationship between hunting and the photographic act and the movement from shot to capture are suggested in several of the pieces presented in a performative flow that activates and relates the works to one another.


Valter Ventura’s “Tangent Observatory” is a territory of ‘capturings’ that become dispossessions and contaminations. Above all, it is a place for pondering the relationships established around photography, conscious that it is all the more valuable when this fluid entity engages in the search for itself.

Celso Martins (art critic)
for the exhibition/catalogue "Observatory of Tangents"
National Museum of Contemporary Art
Lisbon, 2017