(In) The Place of the O/other

João Pinharanda

José Carlos Teixeira’s work exists in the narrow borderland that separates raw reality from the efforts aimed at making it intelligible. Grounded in a methodological and conceptually intermediate zone between two realms that face one another, the artist assumes the role of mediator: observing the exterior and revealing the interior. What does he bring from anthropology, what does he bring from cinema, what are his programmatic aims, how successfully are they achieved and in what way do they contribute towards “transforming”, if not the Real, at least our perception of it?

First, José Carlos Teixeira develops a rigorous method of observation and analysis, combining it with technical approaches drawn from the universe of documentary film and video art. Then, defining himself as “aware of the limits and crisis of representation”, the artist proceeds to work in the realm where the very concept of otherness is being “questioned, problematized and reinvented”; in other words, in a plural, fractal, border space. In one of his texts, he asks: “What is to be Other?”. And he replies: “I am also an Other”. In this manner, he leads us to that tense node that, in a context already open to contemporaneity, was insuperably formulated as Rimbaud’s “Je est un autre”, or in Nietzsche’s political concept of the body.

In José Carlos Teixeira’s approach, the subject (his “I” and the “I” of the o/Others) is both a territory in constant instability and a political entity. And that is precisely how we must look at the transactions that take place between him and the subjects of his “inquiry”, between the work already in display and its viewers.

In ON EXILE, fragments in search of meaning, mental illness (depression) and its victims stand before the artist (and the viewer). All of them speak, using as reference a normality that is defined from outside themselves (being culturally and socially imposed, as well as politically and economically, as Foucault has demonstrated), a normality none of them can attain, or from which they were cast out — exiled. Then, in ON EXILE, elsewhere within here, the artist, avoiding any preconditioned discourse, lends voice to a group of refugees now living in the US, who fled the political conflicts in the Middle East. Once again, José Carlos Teixeira explores the themes of migration and movement between various geographical, psychological or cultural spaces; that is to say, the concatenation of several profound experiences of otherness. However, his intention is not just to make a film of social or political art: instead, he gives it an objective (anthropological, in this case) slant, which he then proceeds to put into question by means of the critical subjectivity of his cinematic editing.

This process of the “Other who listens to the Other” implies an exchange of experiences, an intersubjectivity that brings the interlocutors closer, despite the insurmountable boundary that separates them. The delayed time of observation and analysis of the discourse the artist imposes on us is the time we need to acquire that knowledge, to bring together all those different humanities.

The static shots of bodies/faces with choreographically controlled gestures, the image free of outside influences, the viewer’s subjection to the long narrative/reflective flux of each testimony… are all used by the artist to combat that which he calls the “tyranny of the image” in present-day social networks. It is all part of José Carlos Teixeira’s opposition to the uninterrupted, chaotic deluge of the media (and of certain art forms of today) — a strategic utopia (of a political and humanistic nature) that allows him to give us back the Other or to give us back to the Other.












   josé carlos teixeira