In his exhibition at Galeria Millan, Thiago Rocha Pitta presents a never-before-seen video, as well as previously exhibited pieces that relate to this new work. The art piece that gives name to the exhibition, Ocean / Atlas, was created during an artistic residency in Norway in 2014, through the Circulating Air program. The art- ist appropriates a mythological figure to name and create a work that explores issues that are present in his work as a whole, like an extended experience of temporality and the limits of the relationship that man can establish with nature.
The mythological universe and literature are constant references in the work of Thiago Rocha Pitta (as in videos The Secret Sharer and Youth, in which the artist borrows the same titles and themes from the work of Joseph Conrad); these references, however, are never univocal or limited by the direction of origin. Ele- ments and human characters are transfigured essentially into mineral forms, sometimes plants, in these contexts created by Rocha Pitta. It is worth noting that even elements that are inherent in the technical and cultural (such as sailing or the control of fire) are displaced in these videos, appearing as ghosts, mysteri- ous beings that cannot produce themselves, but that also do not seem to emerge from human force. The camera, static or drifting, puts the spectator in the awkward position of voyeur of this world that seems to exist without him or her.
The boat is also a recurring theme in the artist’s work. Three art pieces with this element can be seen on the first floor of the gallery: in Homenage to JMW Turner (2002), a boat is burned on the ocean, a clash between fire and water; in Heritage (2007), a drifting boat carries a handful of dirt and two trees, an image that is dreamlike, ironic and full of loneliness; in The Secret Sharer (2008), finally, a gleaming form, whose precise contours are difficult to understand, approaches the camera/viewer on the ocean and, as it does, it brings the dark, producing a growing tension brought about by this presence that can not always be seen, only guessed.
In Ocean / Atlas, in turn, is not the sea that contains the boat, but the boat that carries the ocean. This fragile wooden structure takes the place of the titan At- las, floating in the void, sustaining the Earth or at least its seas. Originating from the technical dominance of man over nature and associated with the blossoming and growth of numerous civilizations, the ability to sail appears here as the ful- crum of the world. The image echoes interviews in which the artist says, for men, nature itself does not exist: as Midas, everything that man touches turns into culture, even the ocean wilderness.