Joao Maria Gusmao en Pedro Paiva


The Portuguese artists João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva are coauthors of numerous works, most notably several films.

Their highly unique oeuvre does not so much participate in a lineage of visual art than enact existentialist philosophies. The surreal casts of characters and short, seemingly illogical narratives recall silent movies of the 1920s, in particular the comical, nonsensical elements of those early films. Gusmão and Paiva's works also hark back to the early films of Bas Jan Ader, which in turn channeled the tragicomic, existentialist writings of Samuel Beckett. One can also detect traces of absurd theater à la Eugène Ionesco, fragments of what Sigmund Freud described as the uncanny, the eerie atmosphere of Grimm's fairy tales, and the work and symbolism of other literary existentialists such as Franz Kafka or even Fyodor Dostoevsky, all finally combined with a postmodern reading of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The films are visually minimal and simply produced. They are characterized by a precise selection of characters and locations, and usually set in the rural countryside or in semi-desert or prairie-like landscapes. It is hard to place the time and location; the artists carefully avoid showing houses or cars which might identify the setting.


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