Text by CLOT Magazine
Today, we are premiering the video for the track Something Somewhere Not Here Not There from Alagôa’s debut album, The Jar, coming on October 18 on the experimental audiovisual label Turva. Alexandre Alagôa is an experimental filmmaker, multimedia artist and music producer working between Portugal and Luxembourg. Alagôa takes a strong influence from conceptual art, the Fluxus movement, and structural film. His music brings a poetic and cinematic landscape reflecting very intimate and nostalgic experiences surrounding his daily, mundane and personal life.
He told us that the whole album was produced from vocal recordings (conversations, singing, mouth noises, different languages) of family members, friends, and complete strangers, as well as banal, senseless and some humorous recordings from his day-to-day life, captured mostly during his first years in Luxembourg. Inevitably, there are mixed feelings when you move away from your country – a first feeling of loneliness, isolation, language and cultural barriers, coupled with a refreshing sense of constant novelty, learning and discovery. The album encapsulates this journey, and the video gives us a glimpse into it.
During the first months living in Luxembourg, Alagôa took his portable audio recorder everywhere in order to capture every single interaction he could, as mundane as it would seem. It was a strange feeling to have every single unique moment I had so carefully recorded now totally dismantled by experimentation. But I think this process was critical because it allowed me to move away from any evocative, emotional or nostalgic attachment with a specific memory, to finally work on the sound as a mere sound; to move away from that representational aspect and focus solely on matter.
Alagôa explains that for the video, he wanted to have a human figure as the main focus to bring forward a transient feeling. Hence, he and film and art director Daniela Rubinshtein started looking at pieces like Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, Arcimboldo’s paintings, or just photos of butterflies and other insects coming out of their cocoons.
Intimacy, closeness, the mouth and soft speech are recurrent themes in the album. They are crucial to the album because they work as a way for me to reflect on general questions related to being an expat, such as how does one leaves everyone dear behind? Or how does one rebuild a new life in a totally unfamiliar place? Somehow I thought the answer would be found in recording everything all around me. An erratic, frenetic, restless sound archive of every memory I would live.
When I first listened to Alex’s music, I heard different voices and sounds that reminded me of breaking glass. It gave me an understanding of the fragility of this world and its beauty, pure as crystal. Says film and art director Daniela Rubinshtein about the inspiration behind the video.
Whenever I produce a video piece, I immerse myself in the music and in what I feel with and through it. For me, working with Alex was, first of all, an exchange of emotions and feelings, an exchange of something that opens the soul. This is something that cannot so much be described; it’s like water, or a butterfly, or flowers, you look at them in a brief single moment, and you freeze from their beauty. Rubinshtein continues.
When we ask Alagôa how the visual side connects to the sound or helps drive the track’s narrative, he explains that the narrative is related to the title of the track. I think someone had asked me what was I looking for out there that I hadn’t found in Portugal, and I said something like, well, I’m looking for something somewhere, neither here nor there. Sometimes we simply need to get out of where we are in order to see what we actually are. We can’t see ourselves if, from time to time, we don’t get out of our own self.