Violent scenes can emerge from within a state of extreme calm. They often arise as a relief or as the only immediate way out, functioning as a deferment of the inevitable. It’s very rare, though, to have the chance to call a halt to the action in order to observe the explosion itself.
For example, in Fireworks (Hana-bi, Takeshi Kitano, 1997), Takeshi Kitano plays Nishi, a policeman who leaves the force to take a trip with his wife, who is severely ill. In this journey of no return, scenes of endless tenderness alternate with violent fights — the recurring motif of the films by the Japanese actor and director. Towards the end, the woman reclines on the bank of a river to water a bouquet that her husband has given her. When a stranger approaches her to say that the watering makes no sense, that the flowers won’t come back to life, the husband’s rage bursts in an explosion of kicks, thumps and blows that extend the journey for a longer, though limited, moment.
With her work Nada que Temer (Nothing to Fear), currently on view at Meridion, Julieta Escardó manages to capture and preserve those strange moments that concentrate both tenderness and an outbreak of fury. A picture of the destruction of flowers that fly in a thousand directions can evoke an image of romantic nostalgia, but, more than anything, it represents an explosion in which beauty breaks and scatters, capturing for just a brief moment its invisible, violent potential.
In another photo, a nightingale, a swan and a fox are domesticated within a habitat that looks like a museum of natural science. In any case, they stand in a still theatre where they play the role of themselves and represent the whole of nature in action, doing nothing. Escardó captures them in scenes in which textures and colors attract attention, forcing us to stop and look at every detail. In her images of intense visual pleasure, traditional composition disassembles for a moment into random geometry and contrasts which pose all questions and forgets about answers.
Escardó’s photos combine artifice and nature, escaping from sense into non-sense. Their backgrounds alternate between open skies and painted dioramas and special effects. Reality and simulation disperse in midair, mixing under the glassy and blind look of the wild, domesticated animals. At that intermediate moment between explosion and stillness, Escardó stops recording — she doesn’t care about the rest of the movie.