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Whatever the things, people, or objects in a photograph, beyond the effects of real they may convey the effects of presence of the restituted elements cannot be contested. Without using an easy paradox, it seems that these two effects do not always coincide, since – if a strong impression of reality induces a necessary presence – all presence does not suppose an anchorage in a referent, a return to an identifiable and clearly visible real, an ultimate subject of the image. The presence would be this odd excess of diffuse meanings written directly on the framework of the image, but that add up to the sum of its parts. We can therefore recognize the generic scheme of every photographic image, with this considerable difference: that the notion of presence is not a realist or referential discourse. It suffices to think of some of the abstract photographs made by the historically avant-garde to understand that presence does not need the referential mode. This is the case for photographs as well as video images, as can be seen in the works of Manuela Marques, that take as subjects scenes from everyday life. Should one, precisely speak of “subject” when, far anecdotic, from narration or stories, these photographs and videos seem to have moved away from that? What can it be then by this bedside, what is in question with these characters sitting in semi-darkness? What is the psychological state of these men and women’s faces? None of this is easy to understand. Through simple means, sometimes extremely reduced, most of the works by Manuela Marques have the capacity to bring out greater presence, disquieted, as if excessively interiorized, without unveiling what the subject really is. However there always is a subject, however minute or imperceptible. For Manuela Marques it is not so much the restitution of a trace or the captation of a piece of real that is important – that is what all photographs necessarily develop – it is more a presence closed in onto itself, mute, that does not reveal itself immediately. A presence strengthened as the gaze of detachment on things and beings is accentuated. A detachment that is not unaware of them but holds them at a distance in order to reveal their real tenor.

Jacinto Lageira
January 2005

translation by Francesca Pollock

With the support of the Department for cultural Affairs of the city of Paris ( Department for the Arts in the City)

Manuela Marques
color photograph, 65 x 65 cm