Mapas temporais de uma terra não sedimentada (Temporary Maps of a Non-Sedimented Land) / by Carol Carrion
A stretch of land that starts to crumble. We regard a plain that collapses, as if falling into the wall. A canyon is formed which soon is invaded by an avalanche of earth, whose incessant movement is transformed into liquidity. The earth runs until its strength is such that it covers everything, handing back to the surface, the space ready to be once again, perpetually eroded. In another projection, the dried-up soil is invaded by a water vein that the thirsty terrain is barely able to soak up. In a third one, we see the slow evaporation of water present on earth, whose colours almost unnoticeably become lighter. With very precise experiences such as these, which are only seemingly simple, that Thiago Rocha Pitta brings forth to the public the videos from the series Mapas temporários de uma terra não sedimentada.
Slight interventions carried out by Rocha Pitta catalyse the videos´ narratives, which unfold autonomously — a constructive method commonly found in his work. Nevertheless, the artist´s propelling activity does not alter the fact that the pieces in this series are beyond human intervention. The actions we witness remind us of objects with no subjects, movements so embedded in the universe´s causal chain that to understand its origins we should go endlessly back until arriving at the unthinkable prior to time. If his previous videos took place in a mythical nature where culture lurked, maybe hidden immediately after the end of the frame, these maps reach the magnificence of universal forces with which we – meaningless ephemeral beings – have no relation.
Hume stated that if a triangle or circle had never existed in nature, the truths of Euclid´s theorems would retain their certainty and evidence1; taking this reasoning to the extreme, we assume that these theorems would still be true even if no human mind had ever conceived or enunciated them, as their veracity depends solely on the relationship between merely ideal elements. Something similar happens here: these actions would exist even if the artist had not perpetrated them or if we, viewers, took no notice of them. Through these artworks, we come into contact with truths both prosaic and monumental: the laws of motion of the bodies, the inevitability of causality, the unmeasurableness of time. It´s not by means of the artist´s action, but by regarding, that these videos come back to the cultural context from where they had escaped. It is in the awareness of time — so stimulated by Thiago´s work to the extent of causing anxiety — that resides the consciousness of death. When contemplating these scenes where there always is movement and transformation but never life, we remember that mutability is not, for us, the mere transfiguration of the physical state of matter; it means to wither and perish. Nature becomes the mirror of man, unable to face alterity without seeing himself.
It is significant that these works be defined by a geopolitical category. Every map carries deep within the pretentiousness of permanence, whose unfeasibility is evident in the political outlines, outdated by the constant change of human socio-territorial configurations. However, not even physical maps are immune to time: rivers dry, the climate of certain regions may experience changes, and although imperceptible to us, continents move. Maps are always representations and, as such, imperfect. Thiago Rocha Pitta´s changeable maps question our static perception of what, in fact, is always moving, mocking man´s desire for stability and certainty. The earth is not sedimented because it will never be; all maps are temporary. The world´s fluidity overlaps the inflexibility of concepts.