More than This, 2023

Giclée Print on Baryta paper; Engraved Glass
150 x 100 cm
Unique Edition

More than this (2023) is composed of a photograph and an engraved glass. The work is titled ‘More than this’ (2023), homonymous to the first song, of last album — ‘Avalon’ (1982) — by the British band, Roxy Music.

The work was developed, as often happens in my, practice, over a long period of time.

The photograph seeks to portray the Atlantic Ocean, vast, solitary and imposing; a photograph that was taken in the Azores, after a residence I spent in the islands over a month. We had gone for a walk, after visiting the Lajes military base, and, on a long journey in which we got repeatedly among lost  amongst the forests and cliffs, we suddenly found, in this clearing, the ruin of a whaling lookout point, and a view over the infinite.

I remember the silence filled only by the roar of the wind, cold and damp; and the distance separated only by a winding cutout in the floor.
At the time, I kept the photo; During a more complicated phase of my life, I unearthed this fragment, to the melancholic and simultaneously hopeful sound of Roxy Music, at a time when I was listening to this same song, on loop.1
Between stereotypes and clichés, the exhaustive repetition emptied a single, and from this confluence something emerged:

Maybe I’m learning / Why the sea / On the tide / Has no way of turning.2

Aren’t we all? The sea — in my work,as throughout history for many different artists, writers, philosophers, poets4 — has meant something that cannot be controlled, an impermanence that can only be expressed in time, the border beyond the domain; fluid dynamics, thermodynamics; the scale of entropic forces; vastness, complexity and impermanence — a profound metaphor for the illusion of control so present in human ontologies. Music is a sound —  propagated through waves — that is suggested by the text, just as the sound of the sea seems to be heard, in the distance, through the visual suggestion of the photograph.

The photography expands and intercepts the magnitude of the verses sung by Brian Ferry, in a poetic and perhaps even necessary way, although somewhere lost in the desensitization inherent to the saturated relationship with a ‘top-billboard-chart-hit’; Thus, I was interested in freezing a ‘frame’ as a representation of a whole, crystallizing this contingency, a synecdoche of a ‘film’ that continues into the infinity of what is not present; which, together with the recorded text, floating on its surface, and simultaneously disappearing, reflect on impermanence, or simply reminiscent of a karaoke video. After all, “things happen and things move. Things transform. Things repeat themselves. They assume metamorphosis. Time is metamorphosis. Time is an internal and invisible change. Time is captured, and then denied, obliterated. Things move and distribute themselves according to unforeseen regularities. Everything is repetition and everything is difference.”5

João Bragança Gil
January 2024

1. As an example, on November 3, 2022, the song was listened to 63 times, according to statistics from my Spotify account.

2. Verse taken from ‘More than this’ (1982) and can be loosely translated into Portuguese:
“Talvez esteja a aprender / porque o mar / na maré / não tem como virar”.

3.It has been a topic that I have repeatedly addressed in my work. Examples include ‘Time Crystals’ (2021), ‘Ways of Remembering’ (2022), ‘Two Steps Away’ (2021) and even ‘What’s Left Behind’ (2021).

4. On top of my head I’m thinking of Roni Horn, Virginia Woolf, William Turner, Herman Melville, Elizabeth Bishop, Thales of Miletus, among many others.

5. Luis Quintais in “Nobody can say this pain” (2023) about Ragnar Kjartsson.