André Cepeda. Ballad of Today

exhibitions
Curator
Urs Stahel

André Cepeda. Ballad of Today


His project seems like a long walk through a city, at first hesitant, then accelerating. In bright daylight, at dusk, in the dark, in the gloom of the night, along many different cross paths, that lead up to the alluring yet simultaneously repellent glare of the business district and down the dark suction of the sewers. André Cepeda seems to follow the dogs, the strays, the paths of the night owls and the unemployed through the channels of a confusing organism. Silently, with few direct contacts, but with a heightened state of attention, with a perception that seems to unite smell, touch and sight into one big all-embracing sense. 

The city André Cepeda immerses himself in is Lisbon. Two years ago he moved with his family to Lisbon from Porto, after early years in the Netherlands and his youth in Coimbra, with sojourns in Belgium. He wanders, creeps into his new city, digs himself into it, pushes himself off, searches, questions and combs through it - less in a descriptive way, less in the form of an overview, more as if he wanted to pierce the body of the city with his camera, punch holes into it, rub against it, sharpen his senses and his thinking in its complexity. 

He usually travels with a large format view camera, i.e. with a box, a tripod and a negative format of 4x5 inches, and yet his pictures often seem as if a stray dog has taken them, scanning the city’s surfaces with his wet snout. The result is a haunting ballad of a city, a ballad of the city as a system, of society today, of our individual and collective existence. In a continuation of his earlier projects Depois, Rua Stan Getz, Canal, Rien, Whispering Light, Ontem, River and Anacronia, he redoubles the intensity of his approach and hones his visual language in Ballad of Today. The exhibition at MAAT shows around 80 photographs, black and white and in color, in various formats and display modes, giving shape to a visual body of the city, plus two sound installations with Maria Reis and Gabriel Ferrandini. Pierre von Kleist Editions will simultaneously publish a book with the same title.