José Maçãs de Carvalho, Archive and Democracy, 2016 (VIDEO STILL)
Archive and Democracy is an audiovisual essay, the record of a sort of “event”, whose central character is an underground, practically invisible community – Filipino immigrant domestic workers who live with their employers six days a week. On Sundays, they emerge to block and appropriate the streets, a human mass that “occupies” spaces creating territory, acquiring the density of a sort of sisterhood and making public and private space overlap.
In this exhibition, the videos function as a counterpoint to the series of photographs: while in the latter Hong Kong functions because it is far, as a skyline (a “sight-seeing” experience), as a landscape or “image of architecture”, in the former, the streets of Hong Kong are a place (a “site-seeing” experience), an inhabited, lived place, where people rest, sing, dance, celebrate, eat lunch and comb their hair. Archive and Democracy proposes a narrative discontinuity that summons the exhibition space: architecture becomes a structural element of the project establishing a relationship between a range of audiovisual components – moving images, with sound or mute (sequences and loops) and still images.
It’s in the transitory quality of these bodies and images, as well as in words and gestures, that José Maçãs de Carvalho choreographs a multiplicity of archives, bringing together photography and video, landscape and place, materiality and the spectral, attention and distraction, presence and absence.