Daniel Steegmann Mangrané at The Green Parrot / Barcelona

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané

17th February - 18th March, 2016

The Green Parrot presents Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s first solo show in Spain for the last five years, in which he explores the use of diverse technologies in mediation with nature and the body.

Produced in 2013-2014 for the 2015 Triennial at the New Museum: Surround Audience, the 16mm film Spiral Forest (kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name) explores the tropical Brazilian forest and was shot with a custom built camera that can film while rotating 360° in any axis and forest. To create this work, Steegmann Mangrané collaborated with engineers Nicola di Chio and Stefan Knauer, who constructed a gimbal (a hinged device which allows an object to rotate on the same axis) activated by the motor of a 16 mm camera. By turning on the camera and starting to film, the gimbal rotates its three axes (pan, tilt, roll), conducting the filming process while executing interlinked movements. The sequence of movements was based on a mathematical calculation between angles of rotation and frames per second that guarantees all the possible combinations of movements and directions. The camera’s motor both transported the film and powered its rotations. The camera changed orientation at irregular intervals (according to a score pre-determined by the artist), every time shooting at a new angle.

Viewed in an otherwise dark room and submitting to the disorienting effect created by the abrupt shifts in perspective, one begins to see the landscape for its particular elements, abstracted from the familiarity as leaf, branch or tree. By imposing a constantly shifting orientation of the image, Spiral Forest evokes a vivid physical experience but at the same time its structure reminds the spectator of the separation between gaze and corporeal being. The possibilities of phenomenological exploration offered by this technology are extremely important: the body of the spectator is projected into the continuous spiral of the film, entering the flow of the images in motion (a chiasmic entanglement, as the cinema theorist Vivian Sobchack would say).

The artist looks at how new relevant form of technology has transformed our understanding of nature and our place in the universe. With each change in our conception of nature, we have been forced to adjust our understanding of our own nature. The work allows us to be situated in a new perspective, echoing the Amerindian cosmologies that have so strongly influenced the artist.

Throughout the walls of the space one finds 5 screen printed poems by Stela do Patrocínio, transcribed by Viviane Mosé. Carla Guagliardi, a Brazilian artist based in Berlin, introduced Steegmann Mangrané to Patrocinio's poems, which have become a strong influence on him ever since then. Stela do Patrocínio lived in the Colônia Juliano Moreira mental hospital – in which the artist Arthur Bispo do Rosário was also hospitalized - and where Guagliardi participated in a program of visiting artists. While in residency Guagliardi met Stela and recorded her daydreams/poems on cassette tapes that were later transcribed in the book Reino dos animais e dos bichos é meu nome [Kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name”].

The poems are fragmented by geometric designs resembling the ones found in the collage Kiti Ka'aeté (2011) also displayed in the show. On other occasions Steegmann Mangrané's geometric designs overlaped with photography, here they are juxtaposed with Patrocinio's radical discourse. The work becomes a register of the contradictions and the supposed illness of her disjointed and fragmented thinking processes which are echoed by the straight lines cutting letters of the texts.

Stela do Patrocínio remind us of the words of Merleau-Ponty. Where are we to put the limit between the body and the world, since the world is flesh? Where in the body are we to put the seer, since evidently there is in the body only "shadows stuffed with organs," that is, more of the visible? The world seen is not in” my body, and my body is not in” the visible world ultimately: as flesh applied to a flesh, the world neither surrounds it nor is surrounded by it.[1]

[1] The Interlacing – The Chiasm, Maurice Merleau-Ponty in The Visible and the Invisible