Naipi and Taroba (2013)

waterfallphoto1Naipi and Taroba (2013), looped projection onto handmade book cover

In this piece, part of The Day Remains_ii at the Peltz Room Gallery at Birkbeck School of Art (43 Gordon Square, WC1H) I am continuing to work with liminal spaces. The projection of the waterfalls moves in reverse, metaphorically taking the water back to its source. The images refer to the Iguazu basin and part of the waterfalls that create the frontier between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Some of these have disappeared over time, the Guaira Falls- which were destroyed as part of the Itaipu dam project which now provides most of the hydroelectricity for Paraguay and the south of Brazil. The footage comes from a 16 mil. film strip I found that my grandfather had taken of these waterfalls- most of the footage was in a relatively poor state, yet I was able to extract parts of it and edit them into this imagined narrative. They live on in the memory of those who witnessed them, in a fragmented state, and no longer exist as portrayed. Projecting the piece onto a hand made book cover alters the way it is read- the book cover becomes a small screen and the silent backward movement of the water becomes a device to question our ambiguous relationship with the footage and create a new narrative of the waterfall as a lost space, as a regenerative and nostalgic memory of this place, but also as a place that lives on through its visual representation. The title refers to the Guaraní legend of the origins of the Iguazu waterfalls and the parana river: An important serpent god fell in love with a beautiful Guaraní girl called Naipi and wanted to marry her. She, however, had fallen in love with a strong warrior called Taroba, and decided to elope with him to escape her fate. The god punished her by sending the Serpent king to break up the land on which they travelled, turning the area into cascading, flooding waters. Naipi and Taroba both perished in the waterfalls, with Naipi becoming the water and Taroba a tree. When a rainbow forms the two are reunited. Next to the projection I have placed a found photograph dating back to the 1920s showing two faces bobbing out of the water with a big splash next to them. The face in the foreground is my grandfather, according to a hand written message on the back. He was a keen photographer and was interested in capturing these decisive moments (Cartier Bresson) as an early traveller to the area- the two faces, on first view appearing as rocks in the water, take on the personas of Naipi and Taroba, yet are displaced in time:

dickwater1‘That’s me in the foreground’ (1923), Found photograph, Henry Richard Ahrens


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