Magazine article Artforum International

Caio Reisewitz

Magazine article Artforum International

Caio Reisewitz

Article excerpt

INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY

The works in this survey of Gaio Reisewitz's photography, organized by Christopher Phillips, could be grouped into three categories: those that focused on the Brazil-based artist's native country, on what he calls its "places of power"; those that focused on that nation's rain forests, which have their own peculiar power; and those that focused on China, where he attends to people more than to places. In Brazil, Reisewitz sets up a contrast between old and venerable places of power, as in Ataide, 2008, which portrays the Saint Francis of Assisi church in the city of Ouro Preto, and new, sleekly modern places of power, such as the building in Ministerio das Relacoes Exteriores (Palacio do Itamaraty) (Ministry of External Relations [Itamaraty Palace I), 2005. He shows us the entire ceiling of the church, where heavenly figures fill the space of a huge mural, and the empty halls of the palace, where no figures dare disturb its sleek geometric clarity. In both cases, the architecture overwhelms, suggesting humanity is permanently trapped in it liked a caged animal. Yet there is also a difference: Power in colonial Brazil seemingly had a more welcoming face, architecturally speaking, than power in modern Brazil, where it masks itself in abstract anonymity and seamless indifference. Pure abstraction is the new palatial sacred art, and modern buildings are the colonial palaces of today.

Reisewitz's rain-forest photographs--like the architectural photographs, the prints are usually magnificently large, with some small ones interspersed--supposedly deal with the exploitation of these ecosystems by human beings, but humans don't fare too well in them. Though a few images depict ecological destruction--he shows us a field of stumps, with some trees still smoldering--generally Reisewitz presents the forests intact, suggesting that they are a symbol of the integrity and wholesomeness that humans lack. …

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