Illusion            

The starting point in Vilma Slomp's current work is the picture "My mother's navel." A blow up and strong image portraying the body as a landscape seen from above.

In front of the viewer's eyes, the artist places the navel, an eye located in center of our body, a scar left by the slashed stem, a memory of another body of which ours is the fruit. Enigmatic, incomprehensible at first sight, the pit looks back at us while drawing our eyes to it. And when we finally understand, the image at the same time opens itself to different meanings and recoils back to its core inscrutable core.

Vilma Slomp's photos insist in challenging their own condition of images glued to paper. They are more skins yielding to an alien power that can come either from outside, it doesn't matter, a power that always ends up by making them burst. They bear a violence that strikes both seeds and buds, forced to awaken from their lethargy into sudden explosion, exposing their entrails to light. Vilma's work rebuilds the artist's recent trajectory, a tough and daring road she traveled by intentionally expunging all the knowledge she had acquired the hard way.

After earning a reputation as an advertising photographer, Vilma Slomp, although sticking to her professional routine, ended up by creating a bifurcation in her way of understanding photography. Reflecting about acute records, a 'verist' care in registering the world "as it is", which in her studio she paradoxically manage to achieve through sophisticated techniques of "making-up" the objects to be photographed - fruits and sandwiches as much mouth-watering as they were fake; the intangible beauty of cosmetic covered faces; the carefully controlled light; the ideal territory created by the infinite background - the artist realized photograph's reality is in fact illusion. This may seem obvious to those who dwell in world of art in general but who fail to see the deadlocks and arguments faced by the different forms of expression lead in their specific fields.

As for the photographic milieu, the argument about its aesthetic by-laws rolls along winding and intricate roads. Without going too far, in Brazil the so-called documental photography, 'photography-verité', of naturalistic roots, reveals itself like a piece of soil in which one of the most relevant traditions takes root, as evidenced by the renowned work of Sebastião Salgado. So appealing is this kind of photography that the great Geraldo de Barros in the late '40s/early '50s, when he did his abstract experimentation - and scandal!- directly on photographic paper, was held in such contempt by his colleagues from the Bandeirantes Photo Club that he ended up expelled from the group. For the photographers that was an "artist's thing".

A way of thinking that revised the 'decimononico" bias (a prejudiced Spanish term from the 19th used of photography compared to painting), from the times of glass negatives. Because, despite the agreement around this tradition among our photographers (at least until) the eighties, in the agreement around this tradition among our photographers (at least until the eighties, in the twentieth century), the belief in its theoretical foundations, in its intent to dissect reality unveiling it and keeping it in all its entireness, even so, even the products of its principles cannot escape the fact that they bring to the world except fragments converted under the light that sensitizes film and becomes flat on the paper's surface. In other world - photographed in all its dimension, weight and scent - turns into skin, to incorporeal body. The fact that such discussion is still not sufficiently clear to our photographers is a phenomenon only justified by the non-critical use of the aesthetic trend. They take, therefore, gender for species and end up by turning one among many aesthetic doctrines into dogma.

Attenuated, the mistake persists and we still find those militate against others, the "artists", who - more concerned about art than about being imprisoned in this or that kind of art - decide to make photos. It is likely that they may even have some contempt when the opposite occurs, that is, when a photographer breaks the boundaries of documental academia. And this is precisely what Vilma Slomp has done.

Thinking about photography she went on to discuss its possibilities, to show its flexibility, to test and surpass its limits. Therefore, as seen in most of her work, she began to methodically test those limits, to disclose the sudden equivalence between different things.

She began to recognize when an image became abstract even in reproducing something recognizable, or when another was about to turn into a different thing. She then focused her lens to learn when this phenomenon occurred, even if she had to create the situations herself. After all, according to Vilma, in photography construction is all.

For her, the lesson from painting was crucial. This serves to strengthen the value of learned when we decided to venture beyond our territory. The direct reference to Lucio Fontana's slashed painting, fully expressed in picture with the word "Illusion", leaves no room for doubt. In Fontana, the razor-blade slash in the canvas stretched over the mount has the same demonstration-effect as the straight slashing a woman's eye made by the surrealist duo Buñuel / Dalí in the opening scene of their anthological movie "Le chien Andalou": a new way to see things. Fontana's painting leads painting to surpass its flatness, an illusory plane hatched for five centuries following the Renaissance period and its respective formal techniques such as perspective, chiaroscuro, among so confer veracity to what was false.

To spatial illusiveness, brackets on an opaque wall, Fontana opposed real space: between the lip lines produced by the painting, air passes through the fissure. While it is being produced, the slash leaves traces of two lines. From the first seamless plane two planes are now diverging, two planes whose edges raise as if rebuffing one another. When they end upwards, the plane that constituted the original painting becomes tridimensional: a concrete body is born.

But what in Fontana was an attempt to change the laws of painting, a requisite for it to look more real, more like life, the photographed slash insists in pointing to something beyond that, through the crevice, and is still flat. Behind the skin, the same skin remains. The skin is the only truth, all the rest is illusion.

Another notorious passage in the history of art is resumed by the artist: Marcel Duchamp's ambiguous work, the milestone of his breakup with Cubism, "Nude Descending a Staircase". Here the mannequin/robot, the schematic model, first emblem of French artist's erotic gears, moving in space, metamorphoses into successive images of the same anthurium, a conspicuous plant, set in planes of folded paper.

The recurrence of photographed paper - cut, folded or modeled - on which flowers are placed, alludes to the tense relation with the abstract plane - the picture itself? After all, is it not a repetition, the paper image fixed in photographic paper? - and the image of the world. However, here the world is represented by the flower, worn out metaphor and there one of the main targets for those willing to study the nature of the image.

Due to their complete triteness no longer have a meaning. In this sense, they are apathetic models that lend themselves manipulation, like the lily arrangement that broadens its own geometry, like the two tulips shaped into a heart suggesting two interlocked human bodies, like the Transvaal daisies fusing into own shadow, like a withered flower stem leaning on the dry surface of the paper.

At times, flowers escape the logic of the arrangement just to fall into a more dramatic and ambiguous universe.

I refer both to the flowers whose petals resembling long skirts start loosing their sparkle, hanging from taut clotheslines in front of worn pieces of tarpaulin, and the poem made of roses dibbled in paper at regular intervals, disclosing the rhythm of their bulbs. From this series of pictures emerge roses created by cuts made in lead sheets, metal's peculiar reaction to those who its skin. They are roses, but are they like real roses, which when photographed abandon carnality, those roses flow along the path that leads to their embodiment.

Transmuted into image, the bodies and things are barely there, are more a mitigated presence. Transmuted into image they acquire unsuspected equivalences. Backed by this reasoning, the artist deals with the problem, for instance in the shadow of a fern stalk on the naked body of a woman that holds it. The shadow is like something reverberating through something else, as evidencing the desire to touch provided by the contact the light. The shadow, as the photographic image, is also mitigated presence, something announcing itself from a distance.

The image's vocation to turn into the portrayed thing, the strategy to overcome the gap between representation and what is represented, is deal with in the series of cut images, images that refuse to submit to the quadrilateral piece of paper, like the four paper napkins, like the body that rages against the fetal position.

This image is closely related to the first image mentioned in this short text: the navel. A likely wrap-up for a set of art-pieces, attractive for their plurality may leave a few loose ends, with signaled paths that may or may not be taken. The evidence of an ongoing work, concerned only about advancing towards the image's core.



Agnaldo Farias / 2001