Joao Castilho



Born in 1978 in Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerais, João Castilho is one of the rising stars of Brazilian photography. He is one of the pioneers of the ‘imaginary documentary’ type of photography. In his most recent series, the artist draws on the concepts of land art to lend fresh impetus to his creative process, working with constructed images. The series Vade Retro strikes a balance between the spontaneity of his early works, like Redemunho (2006), which depicted the violent clash of antagonistic forces, and staged subjects in a landscape, like in Linhas (2008).


Vade Retro

2011 Photographic Residencies

"Vade Retro is a photographic essay that that seeks to establish a field of reflection around the notion of the supernatural, evil, and death. Photography, almost always related to what can be seen, allows us here to make visible the hidden layers of human experience. The images in this series focus on the relationship between humans and an intangible world, with no immediate shape, a world without visibility. The series thus reveals a spectral universe, formed of apparitions and outlines. The photos include real scenes captured during journeys to the Brazilian interior, others that were built specially for the camera, and others borne from the displacement of objects or interventions on the landscape. Most of these images are in black and white, with a growing dominance of black. Images in ochre tones are interposed in the presentation. This economy of colours marks a break with my previous work: it creates a chromatic unity, without contrasts and with an intense density. The formats vary greatly: from 60cm X 90cm for the smallest photographs, to 110cm X 165cm for the largest. The exhibition creates an interplay between the temporal aspect of a narration, progress, and the imaginary space created by the photographs that have become objects.

In this series, man and nature are cracked entities, split up. The bodies always appear fractured. There is no fullness. There is the individual confronted with his own impotence into an out of control atmosphere. The images show figures, shattered bodies, objects decomposing in a environment formed of obstacles, where obscurity and discontinuity precipitate everything and everything plunged into a deep sense of unease. In a certain way, I am attempting to reflect on our times. Since the end of large-scale utopias, the failures of political models accumulate and generate an incessant reconfiguration of the power structure.The socio-economic perversity has reached a global scale and dragged the world into a succession of crises. For Giorgio Agamben, the contemporary subject is that which focuses its gaze on its own time, “to distinguish there not the lights, but the darkness”. We live in a shadowy time. Vade Retro wants, precisely, to perceive that darkness, immersing itself in the obscurity of the present. To break appearances in order to reveal that which is dissimulated and mutilated."

Series produced in 2011.

Joao Castilho : Vade Retro