Linha Vermelha (Red Line) by Inês Bonduki

Over the past two or three years I have moved an uncountable number of times through the Red Line of São Paulo’s subway, which connects the center with the east side of the city. By moving forward and backward during the city’s more crowded hours, my intention was to join the emotionally and corporally intense experience of three million people who live on the east side periphery. Having to share the space, smells, sounds, and skin surfaces of a crowded and claustrophobic metro car is an involuntarily intimate experience, which I have shared and photographed with a smartphone.

During the same period of time, I photographed jam sessions of contact improvisation, a form of dance founded on expansive and sensitive body interaction between two or more people. Founded on techniques of weight transference and body consciousness, movements in contact improvisation are harmonious even though they are improvised. The aim of the dancers is to learn from the quality of others’ body movements as a metaphor for human relations.

When I associated both realities in the book Linha Vermelha (Red Line) (2013–15), I noticed how, when juxtaposed, the images dialogued well. The experiences were at the same time opposed and similar, so that when observed by inattentive eyes, they could appear the same. By being opposed and complementary, both groups of images made possible a visual narrative that focuses neither on one nor another, but somewhere between the two. What remains open is the question of how we corporally experience urban life.

When I arrived at Visual Studies Workshop (VSW) in March 2015 for a four-month artist residency, having completed a few drafts of Linha Vermelha (produced as part of my Master in Visual Arts degree at the University of São Paulo), my intent was to study sequencing of visual books both in VSW founder Nathan Lyons’s theoretical and practical work and through the development of my own practice. My periodic talks with current VSW Director Tate Shaw and other professors and students, participation in VSW’s community and events, and access to the incredible artists’ books archive of the Research Center decisively impacted the way the book has developed. In June 2015, I occupied the VSW Project Space with an exhibition of Linha Vermelha that included a performance with contact improvisation dancers from the University of Rochester. In February 2016, the book was self-published in São Paulo, in an edition of fifteen, and I now plan to produce a larger edition.

Inês Bonduki


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