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Ro Caminal 

Els ocells cantaven malgrat feia fred (The birds sang thought it was cold), 2019

Videoinstallation screen format 16:9 | Colour

Variable dimensions | 24’37”
 

Els ocells canten malgrat feia fred [The birds sang though it was cold] (2019), 24 minutes and 37 seconds of oblique glances that show their erratic seams, dérives between slopes that fade away before the day awakes and the shadows vanish. An audio-visual piece woven of pain, dew and tenderness, which tries to recover the anonymous voices of a village in Catalonia, La Joncosa del Montmell, where something as slippery as oil was and is the structure of the domestic economy.

Voices cracked by the cleaving of life and time whisper softly yet clearly memories that dream of years whose breath can still be felt on the back of the neck; voices of the sole survivors of the Spanish Civil War, small stories that are not part of any great history, not even of the history of the vanquished. In the chinks and margins, here and there collecting leftovers, remnants, in the belief that what defines the conditions of history is never the time and the situation as described by the dominant discourse. Ro Caminal installs, almost unbearably, nocturnal images of an olive grove which never cease to contain the promise of a landscape that opens, the utopia of things to come, of what is borne for the sake of what is hoped for. The story of those who did not emigrate, of those whose eyes have been blackened by so much looking at the sun. Of those who knew no other delirium than that of dust, that of the intensity of their bodies bent on a journey to the heart of fear, amid outbursts that announced again and again the twilight of their birth and who, even so, were not devoured by the silence.

Moving deeper into a territory we think we know well where the constantly skirring monsters we start can be driven away by weaving myths that make it possible to endure, day upon day. A landscape so familiar it turns strange; for, as Adorno says, ‘Even the tree that blossoms lies the moment one perceives its bloom without the shadow of terror’. Eyes never seen because the invitation is to enter them. She shakes the conviction of the peasant idyll of a peaceful life. The light of old moons playing in the black and silver foliage of the olive trees, slippages through the geography of their knots, knots that are like scars, where fragility has turned to hardness.

As Caminal recovers the oral tradition, she cradles, not without a trembling in her hands, the breath of lives in extinction. Displaced from their angle, she unties the certainties of the place in search of a village of the future, in a failed archaeology whose visit to her own people can only restore to her her condition as an outsider. Made and unmade beneath the rhythm of her steps, between the movements of her hands, these images that refuse either to be tamed or to reveal their secret do not show the folds of what will be the new beliefs. Something is unwilling, as Wordsworth would say, to pass ‘into a region of futurity’. So it is no surprise that Carminal should bestow on the roots of the olive trees the aridity of the stones, that slightest excess that can produce a meeting of the utopias that are woven in the closure.

Andrea Soto Calderón


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