To Exist this Night.

Magali Lara
...and so it shall become rift. Luis Felipe Ortega.

Luis Felipe Ortega is obsessed with the void and with darkness… with the idea of becoming.

(I like the idea of becoming animal, an idea so dear to Deleuze and Guattari, to leap over the destiny that our own personal history offers us—and imagine ourselves as other. Becoming jaguar… the silence of the jungle...

…to the potentiality of becoming human, of becoming jaguar, drawing nearer to the silence of the jungle and in the end approaching silence itself.)

Silence. A pause. Time. I wait.

Samuel Beckett is the inescapable reference point when exploring Luis Felipe’s career. I have no doubt that this author is a constant presence in his work (and in his need to include him in his installations and stagings.)

Ortega collects fragments of recordings of his talismanic writers and mixes them. He likes to set them into play in montages that have more to do with dance than with theatre. The voice is always a voiceover. It is a strange mixture, more contemplative than we might imagine. But that’s the way it is with all his work: in the end we encounter silence.


Ortega oscillates between the principles enunciated in the aesthetics of the 1960s in the US and in Brazil—which are very distinct from each other. On the one hand, there is the questioning of himself; on the other, the difficult relationship with nature—and with civilization. Text is key, though he does not write. He looks, reads, reflects. He takes his distance. There is, without doubt, a powerful charge of melancholy that is not immediately evident. I don’t know why—or perhaps I do.

His oeuvre seems to be split into two bodies that inhabit parallel spaces. They don’t touch, but coexist. This exhibition ...and so it shall become rift, curated by Daniel Montero, presents this coexistence in a striking manner.

Let me explain: On the one hand, there are the drawings or paintings that emerge from the process of writing/drawing. They gather words, the gloomy prognoses for mankind, his bewilderment in the face of existence and his loneliness. Color is not allowed; barely a point that indicates or intensifies a situation. Otherwise, it is silent work.

Meanwhile, light is always present, although it is in darkness that action lies: Ortega dedicates a lot of time and energy to achieve this black that is not black.

Nothing moves in this black, in this immense blackness.

For many artists, the difference between painting and photography is a matter of time; here that is skewed. There is an added time in photography, as if the image of reality needed a repeated line to be added to it by hand. This implies hours of work, just because it is necessary, even if incomprehensible. Why add time to an image? Are they two times in collision?

(The genealogy proposed by Ortega is a strange one. Although his work is focused on the body, it seems like he is elsewhere. He is leaving for somewhere else.)

At bottom it is about the split between the present and the past.

With color a different kind of writing emerges, a different way of inhabiting the body, since color emphasizes emotions and fields of affect. It is Guimarâes Rosa or Hélio Oiticica. The body is emotional, it is enjoyment and loss, flowing with the river. Because in Ortega’s landscapes water is almost a character he cannot do without. The flow of a feeling of solitude, combined with the strangeness of being a part of nature. It is a being landscape—it knows .

There is no history, just a journey. A man moves through time, does not seem to be always himself and yet… the body is there, even when he is absent. This is the case with the videos; we know he was there, that his gaze is reflected in the camera. But we never see him.

The works that most intrigue me are those that are presented as obstacles, as passages that allow us to see the difficulty of—of what? Probably of being in the present moment.

Some titles: Closed Space, On the Edge of Things, Truth Inhabits the End of the Tunnel , all constructed contrary to human time. Each of them confronts us with a ritual of passage that we must embark on. Is it between the present and the past? Or is a becoming this other, this dark purpose that keeps us in motion?

As Viveiros de Castro says: “Whoever responds to the interpellation of a non-human agent accepts that this agent is human and, in this process, runs the risk of losing his own humanity, because between two subjects of different (in the broad sense) species, what is in common is what separates them.”

Split, distance, silence. And solitude. Ortega accompanies us in these works in order to cross over with us, within us.