The Eye and the Blade (O Olho e a Lâmina) was developed in collaboration with fellow artist João Sousa Cardoso. Both artists were selected artist in resident at Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto, Italy. The project can be described as a visual research and exercise into the act of filming itself, filming ‘the other’ and the relationship established between the one that films and those being filmed. Conceptually, The Eye and the Blade is deeply indebted to Cinéma vérité, which combines improvisation with the use of the camera to unveil truth or highlight subjects hidden behind crude reality, invented by Jean Rouch.
Initially the artists, concerned with the question what it means to film an unfamiliar area, invited seven other artists in residency to film Riva, a district in the city of Biella, northern Italy. While these other residents where shooting, Paes Leão and Cardoso in turn filmed them and studied their approach and the relationships that each of them formed with their subjects and focal points. They also collected data such as the film locations. Afterwards the artists placed a mirror in different locations in Riva and observed how vision would split and silent cracks appeared among visible things.
After that, he artists focussed their investigations on the small neighbourhood café Circolo Arci in Riva where local textile workers and immigrants usually met at the end of the workday. They invited the clientele of Circolo to create two film scenarios based on stories they had previously told. One story was about a boy possessed by a genie that caused the boy to have a compulsive desire to drink water. The other story tells of the love between a fisherman and a shepherdess against their families’ will. When the people started filming their stories, the artists created a context in which before, during and after the narrative action, the protagonists could – often executed in ingenious ways – manipulate the camera, which was always in a prominent position, and the video graphic image itself. The artists monitored the construction process of the film.
The final product was a publication of the collected data and a decomposition of the work done by the other residents and the two films made with the inhabitants of Riva. The publication unravels different approaches to and hidden truths about the act filmmaking.
Video Stills ‘The Eye and the Blade’ ST - MiniDV - 4:3 20’33”