The eight pictures that compose Susana Mendes Silva's series Phantasia
show several layers of research. In the first image, the confluence of two artists, two epochs and two manners of communication presents the question posed by the work: the reality of the hand that holds a notebook (a sign for research, inwardness, and thought). On the open page we see the image of a painting, the self-portrait of Aurélia de Sousa
(1866-1922). Susana Mendes Silva chose to use photography in this work as a reference to Aurélia de Sousa's work process - this artist painted from photographs. But it is the framing - very close to the framing used in the self-portrait painting - in the photographs that show the body of the artist that suggests the idea of appropriation, not only of the work process, but also of the subject of self-representation itself.
series brings back to mind another work, Polaroid
(2004): a video that shows the time it takes for an image - a portrait of the artist - to develop and become visible in a Polaroid. The image was repeated in an unending loop, until the border between appearing and disappearing merged as the remains of reality. In Phantasia
, the artist repeats the possible movements that precede the artistic process of Aurélia de Sousa - dressing up with a red jacket -, and in doing so she amplifies a past process, transforming it into a performance, and integrates another character, another process and another time, retiring herself from her own reality. If we look at its etymology, one of the meanings of the word is phantom
, a faint, ephemeral and evanescent figure; and thus a link is established with the delicate self-representation that tragically ends necessarily with its own absence. In the last photograph of the series, the presence of two figures representing the same one creates a third presence, arising from an undetermined time, with the ambiguous expressiveness of someone who shares with us something unintelligible, in a fleeting unintentional moment.
Maria do Mar Fazenda