Under Saturn, an evening with Alexandra Navratil, Eye Artist-in-Residence and screening curated by Margarida Mendes
In many of her films and installations Alexandra Navratil examines critically the histories of the material media of film and photography. By extension, she contemplates the plasticity and the constant redefinition of the concepts of document, evidence and memory. Her work involves extensive archival research and tells stories, both poetically and reflexively, of histories of images and their media. Her research process involves an intimate mode of witnessing, an emotional, empathic response to images and taking a position that both carefully considers their status as documents and re-assembles them on a more abstract plane. Navratil’s work and research pose the big questions of memory and of histories of images. How do we understand memory on an implicit level? What models of memory do we have – accumulation of records into a storage; a dynamic inscription surface that reforms itself latently? These questions belong to the story of the story, or the story of the record of the story, to metahistory. There are of course multiple possible stories of stories, or stories of records of stories that can be told by different kinds of experts. But an artist can look at records and archive material obliquely and is allowed to engage affectively with what they see. Critical distance can the become critical intimacy, acts of empathic witnessing acknowledge the murmur of dormant images and give visibility to details that usually remain unnoticed by other researchers. Archives are spaces of storage and preservation of records, but they are also spaces of material transformations, of erosion and of disappearances. Such processes pose questions of what constitutes the outline of a historical object in its materiality, of what to preserve or to transfer onto another medium. There are questions of selection, of choices, which always come with, and mirror ideas, or ideologies of what is deemed as important, what is deemed to be a record with a documentary weight. But what happens to those objects or records that don’t make the selection?
Image: Alexandra Navratil, Under Saturn Act (1), video still