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THEATRUM ORBIS TERRARUM (2013)

2013 – Teatrum Orbis Terrarum
Three-channel HD video installation, 16:9, color, stereo sound, 26 min. sync in a loop; DVD, 4:3, black and white, silent, 5 min. loop on TV monitor, Portugal

2013 – Teatrum Orbis Terrarum
HD video, 16:9, color, Dolby 5.1 sound, 23 min., Portugal
Commission: Festival Temps d’Images, Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea–Museu do Chiado
Production: Lamaland
Support: The Macdowell Colony, Screen Miguel Nabinho, Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, DGArtes, DuplaCena, Festival Temps d’Images
Distribution: Agência da Curta Metragem, Kinoscope, Doc Alliance
DVD Edition: Shellac Sud DVD, EXTRA, Terra Nullius: Confessions d'un mercenaire
Harvard Film Archive – HFA / Harvard University – collection
Video Installation Edition: QUARCO – Quartel de Arte Contemporânea de Abrantes – Coleção Figueiredo Ribeiro

The Theatre of the World (1570) is thought to be the world’s first modern atlas. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum may be con- sidered a film exploration, a sensorial journey, a vertiginous history, but definitely an adventure story. 'When I look at the sea for long, I lose interest on what happens on land' says our shaman leading character.

    In the sixteenth century the Padrão Real hung from the ceiling of the Map Room in the Casa da Índia. It was a secret map, guarded from the eyes of foreign spies, which was changed and reworked with the comings and goings of each expedition. Aided by scientific equipment to measure distance, the navigators dreamed up the representation of the expanses that they had covered. When at sea, they looked up to the heavens and gauged their path by the stars, hands drawing in space fictional lines that carved territories. Upon returning to shore, they took the map that had previously belonged to others as their own, erasing divisive lines and constructing new borders. The map that they followed has been lost over time, and what remains of it is a stolen copy, made from memory by one of the cartographers in order to outwit enemies.

    Maps are imaginary lines projected in space, visual representations of territories that have been traversed. They create spaces for navigating, utopias and dystopias, fictions created and broken by memory. Like the colourful banners that bear the title of the exhibition, drawing homographs in the air, maps devise coded messages that are then exposed to the entropy of the elements. The spaces dreamed up in Theatrum Orbis Terrarum act as a map made of memories that sketch out their own territory, constructing and reconstructing the minute borders existing between the three screens.
    The water line initially serves as a separation between what exists below and above the level of the sea. But when the ruins of a sunken village come into contact and collide with the rocks on display in the museum, the images begin to question the chronological time that divides the different surfaces, and what was previously buried in time and space starts haunting the elements that are above. Objects that belong to different moments of the line of time overlap, inserted into a contiguous space. They move into the spaces between the screens, breaking the projected lines that divide them. The historical period to which they belong becomes as ephemeral and malleable a substance as the hazy, cloud-like ghosts that are summoned to the images. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum pits chronology against stratigraphy. It proposes an anachronous, geological time that expands and contracts; a landscape where the linearity of progression crumbles between porous layers. These rocks dissolve in water, where the words of those who try to order and catalogue history are lost.
    'When I look at the sea... I lose interest in what is happening on land,' says the visitor to the museum, having turned into a shaman. The atlas that the installation draws creates an island, a piece of land in the high seas. You can reach it by boat, following maps that lead everywhere, and take you from everywhere to places that do not yet exist. With a proper name yet no fixed place, the boat drifts between being self-contained and existing in the space between each port. In civilisations that do not have boats, 'dreams dry up, adventure gives way to spying and pirates are replaced by the police'. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum creates a territory where we can imagine another kind of geography, formed of chance and contingency, with sailors on land, and lands adrift.