André has published two books: Dad’s Suicide (2014, self-published, São Paulo) and Cabanagem (2015, Editora Madalena, São Paulo).
Renata Scovino is a visual artist and researcher graduated in Visual Programming and Arts. Her work is multidisciplinary, it explores text, photographs, drawings, prints, collages and installations. Her studies, in addition to issues of contemporary art, also involves philosophy, archeology, anthropology, ethnography, geography, geology, literature and linguistics. She has a special interest in relationships and deconstructions.
one can visualize a revolution - involving social, political and
religious issues - that took place in the Brazilian Amazon before the
invention of photography? How can a photographer compare what we see
in the present (what survived), with what we know is gone? How can an
image document an absent presence, which blends with the remains of a
place? This is the task that André Penteado has set himself in
Cabanagem, published at the end of last year.
To handle this challenge, it was not enough to analyze the historical, pictorial and archaeological documents found in the region. The artist had to go on site, visiting different cities such as Belém, Acará, Vila de São Francisco Xavier, Cametá, Vigia and the Tatuoca Island, where he interviewed locals and found hundreds of material and immaterial objects from the past. A procedure that ultimately expanded the sphere of the official history, circumventing the authority of those who decide what goes in to this field of knowledge or not; in other words, the historians. Reclaiming memory by means of the strength of an image – as though tearing apart, or puncturing – brings a kind of knowledge that opens itself to the emptiness, the absences, and the oversights, revealing profound issues present in those gaps and creating a critical dimension.
The publication includes two books that work like a puzzle, as well as an insert, in newspaper format, with text written by historian Magda Ricci that, without making any reference to the images, recounts some of the official historiography. This set comes packaged in an envelope, similar to old file folders, and has two versions: half of the print run of 1,500 copies is green and the other one is red.
In the first book are the photographs of the places where the uprising happened, presented as a kind of fiction that gives us a sense of the history from what remained. Each image is a kind of reconstruction that refers, indirectly, to something relating to the past, and the narratives circulate as rumors, like ghosts that drift through walls. No image is simple - even if it appears to be - all act as prisms that reflect different views and, when viewed in the page sequence, they create connections that allow the imagination to invent memories, raise the dead and restore the ruins. There is a secret link between them, a back and forth of situations that lead to violence, religion or bureaucracy. However nothing is given, everything is yet to come, as if all that was about to happen already exists in another form. What remains is always uncomfortable, something that lies between the difficulty of remembering and the inability to forget. There is no desire to moralize, but instead an insistence on the precariousness and fragility of life that is beyond any redemption. What surfaces are the ancient and contemporary meanings, which are still alive in this war and can be reinterpreted in the struggles for land and current disputes.
Also in this volume, photos of murdered young people, which circulated in the local newspapers during the period when the artist was in the region, are matched with the other images, further highlighting the similarity of relations - as if the distant other became, paradoxically, the close and the similar, invoking the atrocities of the revolt, where over 30 thousand people died violently.
The second book features portraits of the inhabitants of the region and the subtitles placed on each photograph tell the relationship of each of the characters with the Cabanagem: the politician stands as heir of the Cabanos, the journalist named his son after the leader of Cabanagem, the community leader knows the story of where a former leader’s bones were kept... This is a very heterogeneous population, one that stands witness to this historical past and the manner in which it is retold from generation to generation. In their discourse, their experiences mingle with myths and popular knowledge, shaping fascinating ideas that often gain a more abstract and even fantastic aspect. In this way it can be said that authenticity and fiction are not mutually exclusive notions.
Cabanagem is a project that unearths the visible and wounds the readable, tearing things apart to reinforce Walter Benjamin’s idea that historical time is "infinite in all directions and incomplete at all times." In the ruins, the story survives.