Stabbing

The early history of video art combined the theme of the artist's self-representation with scenes presenting violence at different levels. In an outline of a short history of the artist as character within this specific context, we have everything from Vito Acconci biting himself and Bruce Nauman throwing his cup against the wall in Bouncing in the Corner, No. 1 (1968) to Martha Rosler's energetic reaction in Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975) and Bas Jan Ader declaring the work as a failure in the face of a body that seems to have no flesh. In Estudo para Facada (2012), the image is no less strong, but the form in which time is sculpted makes it so that this level of violence is quickly emptied, revealing a lyricism which makes the work something much closer to a protest of the spectacularization of the image than a discourse on self-sacrifice and monotony.

The work is divided into parts or “chapters.” In the first part, a close-up film register reveals the artist slowly opening her mouth, giving form to a scream from which the word has been removed. Fade out. The “second chapter” is a photographic image of her tongue being stabbed, including the sound of this action. Again another abrupt cut. The following “chapter” is the repetition of the previous gesture with even sharper sound. Last interval before the final “chapter” which displays the mark of the first stab and pronounces the silence with a second attack from the knife. Lenora confronts the distinct media qualities (TV, film, photography) that invade and shape people's views, daily lives and behavior, and which invest in models and strategies of drugged seduction and veiled violence. These are totalitarian discourses – political, cultural, religious, what have you – that promote strategies of blindness and muting: they manipulate desire and violate our capacity for judgment. Still, in no way does the work take on a preachy or accusatory discourse, but rather by allegorically denoting the emergence and death of the images, Lenora causes us to ask: What is our relationship with images like? What is our relationship with the world mediated by images like? What is also in question is the very statute of the image that arises and unfolds into something beyond what is actually visible, which, at the same time glorifies and haunts, but from which the image is constituted. This haunting is contained in the representation of death, in its enigma and in the character/artist's suspended scream.

Furthermore, despite the sound of the knife invading the image, Lenora develops regimes of silence and drama (in Calaboca, from 2006, the artist anticipates this study by referencing the act of silencing, the image of a mouth - permanently mute – gradually fastening to this image the letters that form the word “silêncio”) which are accentuated by the decision to produce the video in black and white as well as the very museographic layout of the room in which the work is placed. In an ample space, the only light that was emitted was that of the screen, transmitting an even darker character to the work and leaving the spectator momentarily off balance. Lenora seeks to abolish all comfort zones. The exhibition space was transformed into a mysterious and inscrutable scenario in an intense dialogue with the work's dramatic atmosphere.

Silence – and here I refer not only to the fact of the exclusion of sound in the first part of the work, but also to the precise gestures in the articulation between sound and image beyond the disturbing silence that the installation of the work in that room produced – is brought forth not only through the fact of the mouth emitting no sound, but through an intimate and plain scale which begets a proximity to the ambiguous character of presence and solitude that inhabits the work. The dichotomies presented (silence/sound; tenderness/violence; image in motion/photography) exhibit an extreme coherence. And something that could be qualified as ambiguous reveals one of her work's greatest qualities: the original dimension of a visual poetry.