These portraits are part of a series made back in the Winter of 2009 and it depicts a group of students from the Photography Department to which Gonçalo also was part, both as a technitian and as a student. In December, confronted with the lack of conditions and materials the course lacked to offer, they decided to camp at school and endure a silent and peaceful protest until they were heard.
“Let us now consider the time exposure, of which the photo-portrait is a concrete instance. Whether of a live or dead person, the portrait is funerary in nature, a monument. Acting as a reminder of times that have died away, it sets up landmarks of the past. This means it reverses the paradox of the snapshot, series to series. Whereas the snapshot refers to the fluency of time without conveying it, the time exposure petrifies the time of the referent and denotes it as departed. Reciprocally, whereas the former freezes the superficial time of the image, the latter releases it. It liberates an autonomous and recurrent temporality, which is the time of remembrance. While the portrait as Denkmal, monument, points to a state in a life that is gone forever, it also offers itself as the possibility of staging that life again and again in memory.
An asymmetrical reciprocity joins the snapshot to the time exposure: whereas the snapshot stole a life it could not return, the time exposure expresses a life that it never received. The time exposure doesn’t refer to life as process, evolution, diachrony, as does the snapshot. It deals with an imaginary life that is autonomous, discontinuous, and reversible, because this life has no location other than the surface of the photograph. By the same token it doesn’t frame that kind of surface-death characteristic of the snapshot, which is the shock of time splitting into not anymore and not yet. It refers to death as the state of what has been: the fixity and defection of time, its absolute zero.
Time exposure implies the antithesis of trauma. Far from blocking speech, it welcomes it openly. Only in time exposure (portrait, landscape, still life, etc.) may photography appear with the continuity of nature. The portrait, for example, may look awkward, but not artificial, as would be the case of a snapshot of an athlete caught in the midst of a jump. When continuity and nature are perceived, speech is apt to body forth that perception in the form of a narrative that meshes the imaginary with the symbolic and organizes our mediation with reality.
The word now, used to describe the kind of temporality involved in time exposures, doesn’t refer to actual time, since it is abstracted from its natural link with here: hic et nunc. It is to be understood as a pause in time, charged with a potential actualization, which will eventually be carried out by speech (or memory as interior speech), and is most probably rooted in the time-consuming act of looking.” excerpt from the article Time Exposure and Snapshot: The Photograph as Paradox, by Thierry de Duve, published in October, Vol. 5, Photography (Summer, 1978), pp. 113-125
More of Gonçalo’s work here