The Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum currently presents the fantastic exhibition titled Helena Almeida and Artur Rosa, the Other Couple. The exhibition features a series of photographs and videos staging the couple tied together and struggling to find a way to move together or stand on a chair. The allegory of a life spent with another half is poignant in these remarkable black and white work which recall ideas of physicality, freedom and combination. It poetically alludes to the difficulty to adapt to the other one.
The process generally begins with drawing: first, Almeida draws the positions and movements in which her body is to be recorded and then, in a series of two-handed sessions, is photographed by Artur Rosa, who is often included in the visuals too.
‘It’s always been him. Because it is important that the photograph be done in the same physical place where I conceived and developed the work. So it has to be someone close to me. But beforehand I always make drawings of the situations that I want to photograph. Since the 1980s I’ve used video to test things, because a gesture can be very misleading — a hand a bit more off to the side is already something else. So I try things out. First with the camera. (…) But I want the photograph to be a bit coarse, expressive, like something with signs of having lived, of action.’ (Helena Almeida interviewed by Isabel Carlos in Helena Almeida. Milan: Electa, 1998, p. 46).
The exhibition, in the small Lisbon-based museum, resonates with the life of Arpad Szenes and Vieira da Silva.