ENTRE CAMPOS


Por Hélder Ramos

TERESA ASCENSÃO

Esta semana iniciamos uma série de artigos e entrevistas com os quatro artistas luso-Canadianos que irão expôr no Sem Saudade: Contemporary Art by Canadians of Portuguese Heritage, patente ao público de 18 de Maio a 29 de Junho, 2002 no Cambridge Galleries em Cambridge, Ontario.

Teresa Ascenção nasceu no Brasil.  O pai é da Terceira, e a mãe da ilha de Flores, nos Açores.  Ela estudou na Universidade de Toronto.  Eis a entrevista, seguida de uma descrição do trabalho de Teresa, incluido no programa da exposição, escrita por Anna Camara, directora  desta exposição.

Info:1-519-621-0460 ou na internet: http://www.gallerycambridge.on.ca

 

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S.P. You were born in Toronto's Little Portugal?

 

T.A. Actually, it was quite multicultural, including East Indian, Italian, Trinidadian, Jamaican and other families from everywhere. We moved every few years, so I always started new friendships with girls of different cultures. I was always intrigued not only by our similarities but also our differences.

 

S.P. How has this affected your work?

 

T.A. I have always been curious about differences, especially differences in culture and sexual identity. These were areas I struggled with since I can remember. I'm currently developing a real love for my heritage, especially through understanding my parents' histories. This is how the current art work developed.

 

S.P. What will you be presenting at Sem Saudade?

 

T.A. Generally speaking, I will be showing from my last body of work "Running of the Bulls" and a new body of work "Maria".

 

S.P. How do these projects fit into your development as an artist?

 

T.A. Running of the Bulls is a metaphor for Azorean men. I was exploring my father's history by focusing on body language as a method of questioning how the men of my father's generation were socialized. I was interested in male rituals such as soccer, matança do porco, toirada á corda...I use film and photography as the medium for the work, as they are inherently and historically used as tools for documentation. I love the way they can poetically capturing motion and body language.

Conversely, in the Maria series I explore my mother's upbringing through a small comedy series using lenticular printing. We know lenticular prints as those 3D religious post card souvenir images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. In this work I attempt to break sexual taboos within a Roman Catholic culture such as ours. I use comedy to lighten this heavy issue a little and make the work accessible by using little dolls dressed in Portuguese folklore costumes to play different roles.

 

S.P. Is Maria an "everywoman" for you?

 

T.A.  I am interested in questioning the repression of women's sexuality. Not that that is all women are about, but because it is one aspect which greatly needs to "come out" in order for women to be healthier and happier. Women need to be proud of their sexuality and sexual desires and society needs to stop seeing woman as impure because she appreciates this beautiful gift. In this work Maria takes on different roles such as widow waiting for her lover or a young woman purely enjoying her own body under the bed covers.

 

S.P. Where are you going from here?  In what direction do you see yourself heading, as an artist?

 

T.A.  I feel there will always be social issues which I need to deal with and that photography and film will be the mediums of choice. I'm really attracted to these mediums because of their ability to instantaneously capture images of life and culture. I like the seduction which advertising and cinema has brought to film and photography and the ways which they act like mirrors of society. I'll probably work with social issues within these mediums for a while longer.

 

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Selections from Running of the Bulls (2000) and Maria (2002)

 

In the fall of 2000, Teresa Ascençao showed her multi-media installation, Running of the Bulls, at the Art System Gallery in Toronto. Running of the Bulls is not about bullfighting but is a metaphor for the culture of machismo and the Portuguese male. Ascençao pursued an understanding of her father in the context of his upbringing, sexuality and transplanted values. The excerpted digital prints called Father form a portrait, in diptych, at either end of the life-changing immigration experience. On the left, shirtless young man - virile and confident - is poised to approach an idealized Toronto cityscape; on the right, an older man takes a suicidal leap from a plane into a rural island landscape below. Portrait of a Young Bullfighter, a 40-second 8mm film loop, explores male body language in the choreographed, slow motion movements of the bullfighter. The loop is interrupted by the static, piercing gaze of a young man that can be read as either..

The series, Maria, is a deliberate counterpart to Running of the Bulls where Ascençao makes use of humour to explore stereotypical and archetypal roles set against the cultish Roman Catholicism that shaped women of her mother’s generation. Choosing to produce lenticular images (also called motion cards and often used in the production of 3-D religious cards and kitsch objects) Ascençao subverts the representation of female ideals - the virtuous widow, the virginal daughter - by staging five tableaux of social/sexual taboos. The Portuguese woman, Maria, is seen to have more dimensions than are revealed by her ubiquitous name and timid public appearance. The worlds that Ascençao creates for Maria in the rooms of her tiny house are pastiches of the lifestyle led by pre-emigrant women - the doll dressed in traditional costume moves about her tidy rooms, employed in unhurried tasks, sensual episodes and courtship rituals. Viewing these scenes, w

 

Uma das fotografias por Teresa Ascenção