Aline X & Gustavo Jardim | Tocaia

They say the tocaia (ambush) is an invention of the Tupi Indians; it means a small house in which one waits for game while hunting. In the north of the state of Minas Gerais, near the border with Bahia, is where the seminal image for this video installation was discovered. It was the pasture in a farm, by a dirt road. A film crew, a camera and direct sound in position next to a fence, facing a herd of oxen on the other side. It was late in the afternoon, and with every second that passed, the comings and goings of those beings grew more and more mysterious. The hypnotic motion, the natural repetition, a loop loaded with suspense, difference and absurdity. This ambush spawned Tocaia, a recording of that one-of-a-kind moment. 

The research leading to this piece arose from an imaginary hunt between the camera and the animal, a method we adopted during the filming for O Bagre Africano de Ataléia, a medium-length film made between 2009 and 2014. The film guided us into a dimension of parity between fiction and nature; it pointed to the act of hunting something as an open mirror, between the reflection and the animal/other, based on local experiences and accounts from the residents of that small town. 

In relating to the animal that sees us, we cannot help but remember Jacques Derrida in The animal I chase is the animal that therefore I am. Nature encircles us and lures us with the magnetism of a black hole for which we know no explanation. There’s something that places us in the center of a mystique that sucks us in physically, no matter how we try. We share the belief that making a movie has to do with experiencing an imagetic hypothesis of the world. We are subjected to the mysterious ellipses that feed the creative spirit, preparing the gaze for what was never imagined, experiencing the risk of a free, experimentation-oriented approach. 

While filming in the north of Minas, we were enchanted by oral accounts from the residents of Ataléia and by the natural flamboyance of the region. We would travel adrift with our team, conquering the useless, the intangible, to quote Werner Herzog,' a landmark when it comes to expedition movies.' There was a script of initial intentions containing scenes with the Potoo bird, which is widespread in the region and known as mãe da lua (mother of the moon), or with a snake that would face us squarely. Captured snakes are collected in bars in the Minas backcountry, and they are also part of the narratives of some indigenous peoples in the state’s countryside, such as the Maxakali, who fall ill when they are unwittingly spied on by the vipers. 

The event portrayed in the piece was not scripted or pre-produced; it was discovered as it happened. The camera is present as a mediator of the trance between man and nature, the long shot sublimely presenting the relationship between the observer and the observed. In order to share the experience of this moment when man and animal meet, of the mysterious and unspeakable that take place between the film apparatus and the reality it confronts, we opted for an installation-based format for this piece.

"Toccaia" was presented for the first time in VideoBrasil 2015. The artwork was awarded with the ResArtis prize in the festival. The artists were invited for the Kooshk Residency in Tehran, Iran.

Aline X holds a degree in Social Communication. She is a founding partner of 88 Filmes, a production company focusing on experimental videos, documentaries and electronic art performances.

Gustavo Jardim - Filmmaker and video artist, working in the fields of cinema, literature and new media. Awarded in Tiradentes Film Festival and in the Contemporary Art Festival VideoBrasil among others, mainly for his process of research, experimentation and artistic achievement . Director of the collaborative production center DuRolo, which receives artists and art collectives, developing projects with many diferent approaches. Curator of the International Short Film Festival of Belo Horizonte. Master degree in Film Language and Education on going for the Federal University of Minas Gerais. Works with art education with indigenous tribes and communities with rates of social risk.