Fabiana de Barros and Michel Favre

Ultra non stop – nessun luogo è vuoto

October-December 2008

Fabiana de Barros and Michel Favre

Ultra non stop – nessun luogo è vuoto

October-December 2008

The installation created at Assab One by Fabiana de Barros and Michel Favre continues their common research begun in 2006 in the frame of the “Estudio Abierto” show in Buenos Aires and following the SESC of San Paolo with the realisation of the video installation Move, that accompanies the Milan show.

In both cases, they had worked using closed circuit electric wires and a thermal video camera, sensitive only to the heat given off by the resistance the wire gave to the current and the heat of the viewers’ bodies. A video monitor played back in real time only the images in which the heat sources were visible: the electric wire and the visitors. All the other elements, starting with the architecture, were missing.

The project for Assab One starts off from those experiments and develops them with special reference to the original configuration of the location.

The intervention by Fabiana and Michel in Milan, indeed, dismantles the show space into several levels, but at the same time this reading on various planes is rendered unitary by the participation of the same central reference. The location is a disused printing workshop, now dedicated to hosting artistic projects, where a large printing machine (like a genius loci) stands. This is therefore the point from which the various readings branch off from and refer to.

The aim of the work is to intervene in a space that appears inert, but is still traversed by lines of force that may be revealed. This tells us that no place is neutral and that the void does not exist: every space is full instead of energy left by its being and its having been. It lies in a present immersed in these invisible and unexpected dimensions.

A first level, that is immediately experienced by the spectators, is that of their own presence in the show and of what they are viewing and experience: the old printing works with the large machine and the shadows of the projections.

At a second level, the space and the time of the memory are set, as the movements of the workers that were once busy around the machine appear on screen.

A third level is the most complex, upsetting the vision for which the visitors as subjects penetrating into the show with their views, become on the contrary the objects of an alien vision. An alienating effect that the artists achieve by constructing opposite the machine its silhouette designed by incandescent electric wires.

The infrared camera then films the surrounding space. In the film the architectonic structures and fixtures vanish. Only the shadows of the bodies of the visitors captured in the heated space of the machine appear in the images projected on the walls. This new view, that is of the machine itself, transposes the vision into a surrealistic suspension, a ghostly and central place in which all the elements of the exhibition are brought together.

Thanks to: Fulvio Salvadori, Deborah Berlinck, Michela Negrini, Tradam SA Genève, Art For the World.



Fabiana de Barros, Swiss artist of Brazilian origin, was educated at the faculty of plastic arts of the FAAP of San Paolo and the Ecole Supérieure d’Arts Visuels in Geneva. Her works fall within the framework of contextual art and relational art, where the public has a primary role. It is thus that she has realised the majority of her work, for example Tours du Monde (1987), that has led to the creation of her odd travel agency Aller/Re-Tour (1989): seated in front of the artist, the visitor `travelled’ without moving in an imaginary world inspired by her paintings and drawings. Together with Michel Favre, she created AUTO PSi (2004), an urban intervention in which the passengers of a taxi were transported free of charge, in exchange for the telling of an imaginary story during the journey. With Fiteiro Cultural, 1998, a work developed over the course of more than 10 years, Fabiana de Barros had a wooden kiosk of variable form circulate in many cities of the world, from New York to Erevan in Armenia; in the structure the public was invited to take part and to live their own culture as an art work. Her last work, made in August 2008 at Geneva, was Concours de beauté intérieure pour un pique-nique anthropophage (a competition of inner beauty for an anthropophagous picnic), that has mobilised the public and one of the main newspapers of the city.

Main shows
1a Bienal das Canarias, Spain
8a Bienal de La Habana, Cuba
20a, 24a et 25a Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, Brazil

Michel Favre
, Swiss film director and photographer, was educated at the Ecole Supérieure d’ Arts Visuels in Geneva. After completing his studies, he made some shorts that explore the relationship with the filmed material, through both the material nature of film itself with the handicraft and empiricist development of film, (Supendus à un fil, 1985), the appropriation of already existing recordings and its re-interpretation under the form of `found footage’ (L’an, 1988), as well as the search for narrations at many levels between truth and fiction (Stock, 1992). His filmography comprises numerous documentaries made for Télévision Suisse Romande and the full-length films Geraldo de Barros – Sobras em Obras (1999), awarded on a number of occasions, and L’image à paroles (2006), written in collaboration with Fabiana de Barros beginning from the project AUTO PSi. Favre conceives his work as somewhere between cinema and contemporary art. In particular, he is interested in the issue of the suppression of the subject in film and the medium as a departure point for a view to reality. Since 2006, Michel Favre has supervised the course on cinema at the Haute Ecole d’ Art et de Design in Geneva.

Main shows and festivals
1a Bienal das Canarias, Spain
Mostra Internationale de São Paulo, Brazil, 1999, 2006
Visions du Réel, Nyon, Switzerland, 2000, 2006
E Tudo Verdade, São Paulo/Rio, Brazil, 2000, 2006
Millenium Film Festival, Hungary, 2000
Etats Généraux du Documentaire de Lussas, France, 2000
Festival du cinéma de Oberhausen, Germany, 1988
Festival des médias de Osnabrück, Germany, 1986

Interviewed by Deborah Berlinck for O Globo, brazilian daily newspaper

She, a Brazilian artist living and working in Geneva, has made her relationship with the public an art. Fabiana de Barros is an exponent of participative and contextual art. Without a public, her artwork would not exist. He, a Swiss filmmaker and photographer, has made his career in experimental cinema. Michel Favre is a filmmaker fascinated by the search for the real in the invisible.

Together, these two critically acclaimed artists are coming to the Assab One cultural space to recover the past of a former print shop and the history of a worker, creating a surprising artwork together with the public. The exhibition space will be filmed by an infrared camera and the images will be projected on the wall, creating an interactive installation.

Rio de Janeiro, 15th of October 2008

Deborah Berlinck: How did this project arise? An obsolete print shop, a former worker in action, and an infrared camera filming everything and everybody. How are these three elements in the show interconnected?

Michel Favre: This work follows the line we started developing in 2006, with the exhibition Estudio Abierto, in Buenos Aires. We constructed an artwork using electrical wires in a closed setting, filmed by an infrared camera. Two years later, we produced MOVE, a group show at SESC Pinheiros in São Paulo, also with an infrared camera.

Fabiana de Barros: The project at Assab One returns to this same idea and develops it. The exhibition space was once home to a print shop, of which the only thing left today is a huge obsolete machine, which looks like a military tank. We had the idea of recovering the past of this machine and making a new reading of the place, its architecture and its history. We found a former worker of the print shop and asked him to show us how he worked with this monster (the machine). A video is going to show his gestures. The exhibition space will be filmed by an infrared camera and the images will be projected on the walls. The public will interact with the installation through the projection of their own incandescent bodies.

M. F.:Our work dialogs with the history of the workers who once ran the print shop. The history of print shops is highly significant in light of the important role they played in the struggle of the workers’ movement all around the world. We are questioning this today in a monocultural country.

D. B.: Why are you fascinated by the use of an infrared camera?

M. F.: I am fascinated by the human being’s search to find a representation of the real that goes beyond what he can see. The infrared camera allows us to represent certain aspects of our own reality and the world’s reality which would otherwise go totally unseen. A common camera captures color, light and movement. The infrared camera doesn’t. It only captures heat. The infrared camera also carries a political weight, since it is used as a tool for control and security. It is used on national borders, to register the body heat of illegal immigrants. It is also used in airports, to make sure that no one comes into the country with contagious diseases, such as avian flu. The cameras of the cinema were also developed like military weapons. Jules-Etienne Marey’s camera was a rifle that held from 12 to 16 images. That’s how cinema began. The gesture of filming bears similarity to the act of shooting a gun; this is even reflected in the technical vocabulary. I like to remember that the Brazilian Tropicalists used to say that “cinema is a warm gun.” Last year I carried out a project at the Geneva Hospital with cameras that filmed the flows in the brain. My work always involves the search for the invisible.

D. B.: In this sense, is your work a certain form of monitoring the public?

M. F.: It is a trap. In my films, it is always important to have this posture of a trapper, not of a hunter: the real comes to me, I don’t go after it. But I need to understand how it captures me. So I keep my eyes open, actively monitoring the real, sometimes using specific cameras for this. Today there are various mediation tools that allow us to see things that are utterly invisible to the naked eye. These tools are used by science, by medicine, and by the police. What interests me is to take this search for the invisible and transpose it into the realm of art, as a means of translating the invisible into our visible world. And this opens a prolific path for new interpretations of the real.

F. d. B.: All of my artworks involve a monitoring of the public. Because it is the public that produces the work. With the infrared camera, the viewers initially don’t know they are producing the artwork; but then it dawns on them that they are producing it, when they see their movements projected onto a screen on the wall. For me, a work of art is a projection of yourself into a painting, or an installation. You project yourself. My utopian dream is that one day we will arrive at an immaterial artwork, that is, one that consists solely of a projection. Two hundred years from now, we will no longer have paintings; we will transmit the artwork directly into your head. One of my artworks, Fiteiro Cultural, is a work of projection. I created a modulable kiosk that I have installed in twenty cities since 1998, including São Paulo, Milan, New York, Havana and Erevan, in Armenia. In each place it has been installed, the public in the community has intervened and created art. Alone, the kiosk is nothing more than a little booth. Ungainly and insignificant. The art only takes place from the moment the public projects themselves onto the Fiteiro Cultural, doing what they want. This work at Assab One in Milan is also a work of projection.

M. F.:  The goal is not for the public to be the subject. The subject is the public’s relation with this camera that captures each one of them in a reality of which he/she was not previously aware. Each member of the public becomes an actor within the representation.