Small ends of the world

Nelson Miranda expresses himself in fragments. Each time, we are transported to places whose coherence, at first, escapes us (Fundação Lar do Emigrante Português no Mundo. 2016-2020). The uniqueness of the discourse has to be found in the joining together of fragments of images, in the balancing of dispersion and cohesion. The eye/camera moves from image to image, and it is up to the spectator to connect, through successive intervals, the logic of the narrative. And no matter if the joins are sometimes omitted! In the end of the orthodox of photographic narrative, discontinuity is the salt of Nelson Miranda’s writing.

With renewed consistency, the author invites us to experience emptiness. Or how the history of architecture reveals the soul of a nation, its spasms and contradictions, a history of emptying (Riba de Ave. 2015-2017). The geography of capitalism records on its maps an identical course of industrial wastelands, of vacant lots, of places whose identity is lost in reports of bankruptcy and insolvencies. Some essential information provided by the photographer informs us about the nature of the places. The emptiness imposes itself from the outset (Paisagem Velada. 2013-2016). The post-agricultural economy has emptied itself and removed from its substance everything it has ever known how to create. It mutilates itself and voluntarily forgot itself. It does not respect itself, such a devouring Chronos, leaving to photography the role of organizing the mourning and the call for contemplation, for slowing down and for abandon.

The dissonant encounter of fragments of images expresses an intense interest in the interstice and in the supposed “visual culture” of the viewer deemed capable of connecting them. The space between each image is a freedom granted to the spectator, a vagueness that appeals to the critical sense that, hopefully, can only lead to lucidity.

Nelson Miranda has that rare quality, the clarity of an investigator. He pierces the scenes with a revealing light (The Double Space. 2014-2016). Photography is a scalpel. It slices and dissects. It shares with anatomy the science of cutting and examination! The frame of the photograph is a crime scene, in which we are witnesses, called upon not to move away.

This is why all of Nelson Miranda’s spaces are the image of a theatre of dramatic events, of small ends of the world, an autopsy of a final crisis.

François Cheval, may 2020

French Version

François Cheval (1965, FR) is exhibition commissioner and museum director. Trained in history and ethnology, François Cheval has been working as a museum curator since 1982. From 1996 to 2016, he directed the Musée Nicéphore Niépce in Chalon-sur-Saône. Since then, he has been curating exhibitions at the Mucem, at PHotoESPAÑA, Kyotographie and the Rencontres d’Arles. He also co-founded and co-directed the new Lianzhou Museum for Photography, the first public museum in China dedicated to photography. Directs The Red Eye, an independent organization supporting photographic projects.