Luminous Shadow takes as its subject the rich collection of the International Arts Centre José de Guimarães (CIAJG) in Guimarães, Portugal, as well as the theory and practice of museology itself. An institution focusing on the relationships between contemporary art and art from other eras, the CIAJG’s extensive holdings of African, Pre-Columbian and Chinese art and artefacts—as well as its research and peripheral materials—are shown in a slow, deliberate pace. Guided by a wholly intuitive editing structure that recalls the duo’s previous film The Mesh + The Circle (2014), Luminous Shadow floats across disparate materials, cultural contexts and eras, creating a montage of objects that is provocative, unexpected and ultimately stimulating.
Watching the film just weeks after the tragic fire that decimated the National Museum of Brazil’s building and collection—or in the midst of a years-long campaign of unthinkable cultural destruction by Daesh in Iraq, Syria and Libya—we can feel the urgency and fragility of artefacts much more acutely. Artefacts don’t just represent their historical past, they also stand for what they reveal to us in our current moment and the latent, mutable potential of what they might teach us in years to come. Caló & Queimadela’s Luminous Shadow expresses this latent potential in a manner much more effective than words could convey. —Herb Shellenberger
The Mesh and the Circle (2014)