Patricia Osses: traces of an (un)mounted landscape | JOSIMAR FERREIRA


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The fragility of the sight, which allows considering as existent the visible and the invisible, Didi-Huberman identifies the vision mode. Precisely, the two forms that this human activity takes; the separation between two states that define the gaze – an ineluctable scission, adjective of an expression of James Joyce in Ulysses: “ineluctable modality of the visible”. This dual nature presents ineluctable, when we realize that the visible not only demarcates the presence but also the absence, or, “when seeing is feeling that something ineluctably escapes us, that is: when seeing is missing”[1] And, at this point, calls upon the figure of the image that looks at us: these latencies, by not letting us see them, establish an inversion of perspective; they are the ones that look at us. The scission of the act of seeing opens this experience in two – seeing the artifact, the evidence, the volume; and the emptiness, the latencies of the visual object.

As a proposal of an artistic residency in England, the plastic artist Patricia Osses (chilen, rooted in São Paulo), aimed to work the internal and external spaces of an English house, considering elements of the local architecture and literature in the process. Her references of internal spaces of houses came from short stories and novels by writers such as Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll, Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges, Brönte sisters and Jane Austen, among others, whereas some writers, when narrating spaces, have their own homes, their cities and towns, as a reference, since their creation processes take place in internal spaces, in homes, in rooms.[2]

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The house chosen to reside and produce her work was named “The Hurst”; which was then renamed by the artist as “John’s House”. For years the house kept its empty and desolated interiors, without light or water, without anyone ever inhabit them after the death of its last inhabitant, a writer. Situated inside a farm, the house had a true grove as its garden that, at the time he arrived for work in full spring, shone of colors and shapes in a vegetation density acquired by the respectable age of its trees, by the gigantic but not threatening scale, the domestication of its nature after centuries of movement. Besides configuring this garden of extreme proportions, the grove was part of a daily path to the village of Clun, in Shropshire. Thus, the surroundings of the house acquired the same rights as its interior, when it comes to becoming a research space.

The landscape, as well as the windows, was an inherent part of the house. Osses coursed the landscape of its surroundings, always of a dominant green, and felt the need to overlap with the color purple, as a contrast and relief. She found the needed tone of color in India’s silk, and with fifty meters of fabric recorded her journey, simply wrapped in fabric, by the landscape: “Purple Green”. The passages portrayed were completely integrated to the everyday living of that place: hiking to the nearest village, the post office, the grocery store or simply walks around the surrounding woods. A performance not limited by showcases or walls, but contained within the fifty meters of an infinite dress. The body in the picture brought the scale of that place’s nature, monumental and with signs of eternity, next to the ephemeral presence of the action: wrap the body in color and drag it across the landscape. Contemplation is the beginning, from the green room of the house: the female figure looks out, and from gazing escapes to the action of traversing the observed landscape, around the lakes, into the reddish woods, under a large tree, at the entrance of a tower while being observed by a horse. Almost unreal landscapes, with an unlikely garment, building these violet trails over the intense green, with the volition of the timelessness of the horse, of the giant trees, the lake.[3] The sense of fable is inherent, the loss of oneself and the day dream in open spaces, in a camouflage or mimicry of this place, leaving its vestiges.


The theme of memory and its vestiges (traces) occupies researchers of diverse areas to the extent that the concern with time and with what’s left of it in its giddy pass is what constitutes our worldview and our identity. For its crucial theme in theory and art criticism and recurrent matter of literature of all times, returned in an unavoidable form in contemporary times. In fact, between memory and oblivion, what remains are the traces, fragments of what was lived, which can never be recovered in its entirety. Where the concern of the totalitarian regimes in “erasing the trails” so that their arbitrary acts may not be remembered. Yet, there is always a remaining trail that the sensitivity of the artists can depict and incorporate to the poetic matter. That way, if our memory is a receptacle of memorial residues, the image also is, which caused Derrida to state that all scripture is a “haunted house”, due to the recurrences such as quotes, allusions, mentions, memories, references.

Georges Didi-Huberman references the distinction between “imago” and “vestigium, established by medieval theologians. These felt that what we can see, the image, must be seen as “the trace of a lost resemblance, ruined, the resemblance of God lo st in sin[4]. The image gives existence to the vestige, the vestige only gains presence by the image. The posture of not refusing the scission of looking, of accepting the distinction between image and vestige can be understood as a return to the notion of aura. Taking the pictures as a ghost and symptom, in constant motion of construction of meanings. This posture of interpreter can be defined as a form of resumption of the imagination as expedient of reading vestiges, allowing that time and space act over each other, by collisions or fusions, by ruptures or metamorphoses in images of Osses.

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[1] DIDI-HUBERMAN, Georges. O que vemos, o que nos olha. São Paulo: Ed. 34, 1998, p. 34.

[2] OSSES, Patricia. A construção da casa. Dissertação (mestrado) – Escola de Comunicação e Artes da Universidade de São Paulo – ECA/USP, São Paulo, 2010.

[3] OSSES, Patricia. A construção da casa. Dissertação (mestrado) – Escola de Comunicação e Artes da Universidade de São Paulo – ECA/USP, São Paulo, 2010.

[4] DIDI-HUBERMAN, Georges. O que vemos, o que nos olha. São Paulo: Ed. 34, 1998, p. 35.