Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo – Brazil, 2022

February 12th to march 19th, 2022

If you see a big sphere you are probably in danger. 
In 2013, a mysterious explosion was heard in the far north of Siberia. People living 100km from the site reported seeing the sky glaring. Months later scientists found a new 40 x 30m deep crater in an isolated region of the Arctic. What exactly is causing the occurrence of these enormous holes in the permafrost is a mystery (hypotheses have been made but they are still inconclusive). For many researchers studying the Arctic, they are a disturbing sign that this cold and mostly uninhabited part of the world is going through radical changes. The progressive melting of ice in the Siberian tundra has resulted in the release of gases and microorganisms that had been ‘dormant’ for millions of years, many of them completely unknown to science.  

When the ice melts and the magnetism of the world changes, this sphere will multiply and split.  
Just like the Siberian craters, in Drop Spike, Leticia Ramos’ most recent film, a large glowing sphere inexplicably emerges amidst gelid mountains. A robotic voice announces that the sphere will appear simultaneously in different places as the ice melts. The addition of this strange element interrupting the monotony of the landscape, the sense of dilated time and an incomplete narrative generates an unsettling feeling that is difficult to classify, something between the melancholic realization of our imminent end and the renewal of a link with something that cannot be rationally understood.  

I want the sphere to appear where I plan.   
To create her singular visual universes, Ramos draws on intense technical, historical and iconographic research. With each new project the experimental cinematographic apparatus she creates is renewed. To give shape to each story she must find the perfect combination between lab-induced/produced situations and elements captured with more open lenses[AF1] . Nothing, or almost nothing, in Leticia Ramos’ work is what it seems to be and it is from this elusive place that she proposes a free reflection on what – or perhaps who – constitutes what we conventionally call ‘real’.

Celluloid film and emulsion are the artist’s essential raw matter, a medium that she handles and reinvents with great dexterity, allowing her to create a subjective perception of time, intertwining human time, the time of matter and cosmic time. As well as announcing the ‘end of times’, the sphere in Drop Spike has one peculiarity: it can only be seen with the naked eye; it cannot be recorded, mapped or shared. In the film and in the world, the ice melts and releases a mystery. Just like the pendulum that records with light the unpredictable lines of its trajectory in the series of photograms White Noise, the occurrences of the sphere are unique events, in which the quality of presence is indispensable. Who will receive the metaphysical warning? Whoever is there looking carefully at the sky. The same applies to the photograms. To generate them, Ramos performs a sort of photographic hypnosis, in which the slightest detour or calculation mistake can ruin everything, a distracted gaze is not able to capture the nuance or comprehend the complexity of these events – or, better still, phenomena – which occur on emulsified paper.

Ramos’ images share the same type of methodological rigor employed in scientific research but without the intention of explaining anything. They reiterate the level of mystery and speculation that still envelops the most advanced scientific discoveries. Italian philosopher Federico Campagna argues for a return to magical thinking as a tool for reviewing how the West understands reality. He proposes that we think of what he calls ‘technic’ (capitalist rationale and modern scientific thought) not as something absolute and irrevocable, but as one of many cosmogonies, a series of projections or myths primarily anchored in the absolute language of numbers, and this essentially Western cosmogony predetermines the way in which we understand and circumscribe the world. In the realm of ‘technic’, the real is numeric, thus reality can be measured, serialized and consequently traded. Therefore, whatever cannot be measured, serialized or exchanged does not ‘exist’. The ‘Technical Era’, according to Campagna, is one of unprecedented metaphysical nihilism, in which the immensurable and the incomprehensible are seen as signs of superstition or undermined as invalid forms of knowledge.

This sphere will appear in many places at the same time.        
Like Campagna, Leticia Ramos contends that reality is a patchwork of variable and fleeting contingencies. Her work suggests that the answer to our woes cannot be found in the realm of appearances but in an occult cosmological rationale that unites us with other beings and other times. Working with photography as a way of capturing the ineffable and creating worlds, Ramos reiterates that the only possible solution against the emergence of the apocalyptic sphere is a structural shift in the way we understand and engage with reality. The future looks increasingly less like the past; however, we continue to believe in weather forecasts and technocratic rhetoric.

Only one thing is certain about the mysterious craters in the Arctic , their appearance has opened new possibilities for financially exploiting previously inaccessible natural gas and oil reserves, in a vicious cycle in which the nefarious environmental impacts of fossil fuel extraction generate further opportunities to preserve its economic feasibility.
The sky will fall over your heads.

—Fernanda Brenner

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Copyright ® 2020 - Letícia Ramos