In 2012 Rui Calçada Bastos participated in an exhibition entitled »Unfinished Journeys« at the Oslo Museum of Contemporary Art; the title could as well serve as heading for a substantial part of his oeuvre. A certain nomadic restlessness of both, people and objects is to be found already in Calçada Bastos’s early works such as the 1995 video performance Pausa, it continues in his seminal photo series and films like The Mirror suitcase man (2004) or Events - Life in a Bush of Ghosts (2008) and it reappears again in more recent production.
Objects and people drift through transient, intermediate locations without specific weight or localized identity – streets, squares, bridges, or railway stations. The camera captures the environment in fragmented snippets and denies the viewer a vista or long shot that might serve as orientation. Calçada Bastos avoids the recognizable, obscures his whereabouts and focuses on the movement as such.
Even if the 2014 photo series Interruptions and Imperfections provides an idea about its place of origin through the subtitle (Berlin Series), the images might as well have been taken elsewhere. The set of six equally measured and upright formatted photographs captures deserted sections of road surface, traces the miscellaneous road markings and median strips and thus resumes the subjects of urban flow and nomadic drift.
The imagery is reminiscent of Calçada Bastos’s earlier series Events (2008) which as well portrayed urban movement without depicting people or city transportation, instead focusing on the ghostly character of objects populating the streets, the urban drift of the material world. But whereas Events employs a sculptural strategy, Interruptions and Imperfections is deliberate linear and thus interprets the city landscape as fragments of continues drawing. The lines, mostly doted, differ substantially and range from precise, strict structure and rhythm to lose, aleatory patterns and almost invisible remnants blotted by wear and tear. Disturbances and overlays cased by crossing tram lines and asphalt patches spoil the continuity, however all these interruptions and imperfections can’t destroy the image of an endless linear drawing traversing the streets, unveiled by Calçada Bastos’s photographs.
The artist takes the viewer along on a hike down the roads, eyes facing the ground, following the ever changing lines on the asphalt as if they were hidden traces or a Songline commanding just another unfinished journey.
Rui Calçada Bastos was born 1971 in Lisbon. He studied photography and fine arts at the Academia das Artes Visuais, Macau, China, the Faculdade de Belas Artes in Porto and the Faculdade de Belas Artes in Lisbon. Among others, he was artist in residence at Projecto Fidalga, São Paulo (2015), Villa Aurora, Los Angeles (2011), Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2003) and Cité International des Arts, Paris (2002). In 2011 he received the First Price at the International Video Festival in Macao. In his artistic practice he focuses on photography, film and installation. Besides his own work, he is a co-founder of the Berlin artist run space Invaliden 1. After living and working in Berlin for over 10 years, he just relocated to his native Lisbon.
Markus Richter, January 2016
[Independent curator & writer with a focus on urbanism & spatial practices, based in Oslo, Norway]"