A Portrait of Disease, An Experience at Kalafong Hospital
DAVID GOLDBLATT, 2000
The physician, Miguel Ribeiro, has dared to find beauty where other practitioners have been concerned only to objectify the subjects of their clinical and forensic studies, and where ordinary folk are wont to avert their eyes from fear or even disgust.
He has done this without fudging but indeed by precisely applying the understanding afforded him by his profession.Nor has he falsely dramatised or indulged in sentimentality. In the result he has produced photographs of pathologies of the human condition which are remarkable for the depth of the paradoxes they pose.Somehow the scientific is not obscured by or sacrificed to the aesthetic, yet the clarity of both, seemingly, is heightened.And far from beauty concealing or minimising what is suffered, it seems to make the condition suffered both real and immediate.Science and art, the beautiful and the terrible are here brought into rare and moving contiguity
A True Ghost
FRANCISCO JOSE VIEGAS, 2006
When the body, or a suggestion of it, is mentioned in art or in daily life (in fact the two are often separated by intangible barriers), we think of a universe stirring within the borders and the ways of eroticism.
The stereotyping of that reference to the erotic also poisons the very way we look at the body and how we appreciate it in terms of the ideology of "eternal youth" and other commonplaces. There is even an erotic neolanguage with its own grammar and lexicon, where nothing has any meaning whatsoever and where the pieces might be arranged in any possible way without altering their significances - these become sentences repeated ad nauseam, in endless speeches about "staging", "mutilation", "pleasure", "the ephemeral". The body is transformed into geography and scenery - but ceases to be a body. It becomes a mere role, a circumstance. On the contrary, in these photographs of Miguel Ribeiro the body, beyond its ability to communicate with reality, is a true ghost – an obsession, a fragment, suspended and lethal material. One additional gesture and it would all collapse: the composition (balance, light, reflection, geometry), the effect (panic, surprise, commotion, irreverence), the intention. The truth that eludes us or that we never succeed to formulate. Was our body able to do this? Is this gesture ours? This landscape, where did it come from? These uncertainties permeate his photographs. They are our wonder seen from another side, from another perspective that only seldom reveals itself. This medical look is unexpected and may be frightening. Bur, lost in contemplation, we forget it is around us, walks with us, and that we are nothing but examples, not always glamorous and triumphant.
-Francisco Jose Viegas
Casa Fernando Pessoa, Director