Produced in 2013-2014 for the 2015 Triennial at the New Museum: Surround Audience, the 16mm film Spiral Forest (kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name) explores the tropical Brazilian forest and was shot with a custom built camera that is able to rotate 360° in any axis. To create this work, Steegmann Mangrané collaborated with engineers Nicola di Chio and Stefan Knauer. The camera’s motor powers its rotations changing orientation at irregular intervals (according to a score pre-determined by the artist), every time shooting from a new angle.
Viewed in a dark room and submitted to the disorienting effect created by the abrupt shifts in perspective, one begins to see the landscape for its particular elements, abstracted from the familiarity as leaf, branch or tree. By imposing a constantly shifting orientation of the image, Spiral Forest evokes a vivid physical experience but at the same time its structure reminds the spectator of the separation between gaze and corporeal being. The possibilities of phenomenological exploration offered by this technology are important: the body of the spectator is projected into the continuous spiral of the film, entering the flow of the images in motion (a chiasmic entanglement, as the cinema theorist Vivian Sobchack would say).
Steegmann Mangrané looks at how technological forms has transformed our understanding of nature and our place in the universe. With each change in our conception of nature, we have also to adjust our understanding of our own nature. The work allows us to be situated in a new perspective, echoing the Amerindian cosmologies that have so strongly influenced his practice.
Throughout the walls one finds 5 poems by Stela do Patrocínio, transcribed by Viviane Mosé. Carla Guagliardi, a Brazilian artist based in Berlin, introduced Steegmann Mangrané to Patrocinio’s poems, which have become a strong influence on him ever since then. Stela do Patrocínio lived in the Colônia Juliano Moreira mental hospital – in which the artist Arthur Bispo do Rosário was also hospitalized – and where Guagliardi participated in a program of visiting artists. While in residency Guagliardi met Stela and recorded her daydreams/poems on cassette tapes that were later transcribed in the book Reino dos animais e dos bichos é meu nome [“Kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name”].
The poems are fragmented by geometric designs resembling the ones found in the collage Kiti Ka’aeté (2011) also displayed in the show. Steegmann Mangrané’s geometric designs have overlaped with photography, here they are juxtaposed with Patrocinio’s radical discourse. The work becomes a register of the contradictions and the supposed illness of her thinking processes which are echoed by the straight lines cutting letters of the texts.
Stela do Patrocínio remind us of the words of Merleau-Ponty. Where is the limit between the body and the world, since the world is flesh? Where in the body are we to put the seer, since the body is only “shadows stuffed with organs,” that is, more of the visible? The world seen is not “in” my body, and my body is not “in” the visible world ultimately, as flesh applied to a flesh, the world neither surrounds it nor is surrounded by it.
 The Interlacing – The Chiasm, Maurice Merleau-Ponty in The Visible and the Invisible.
Works included in the show:
Spiral Forest (kingdom of all the animals and all the beasts is my name) | 2014–2015
16mm film, 11 min, looped
Kiti Ka’aetê | 2009
Photographic collage | 18,3 x 13 cm
Eu não queria me formar | 2015
Serigraphy on wall |100 x 70 cm
Daniel Steegmann Mangrané was born in 1977 in Barcelona, Spain, and lives in Rio de Janeiro.
Selected solo exhibitions include: Animal que no existeix–Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, CRAC Centre Rhénan d’Art Contemporain, Alsace, Altkirch (2014); Cipó, Taioba, Yví, Casa França-Brasil, Rio de Janeiro (2013); and Bicho de nariz delicado, Uma certa falta de Coerência (A Certain Lack of Coherence), Porto, Portugal (2013), Duna económica / Maqueta sin calidad, Halfhouse, Barcelona, (2011). Group shows and biennales, include: Triennial: Surround Audience, The New Museum, New York; Canibalia, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris ; Species of Spaces, MACBA, Barcelona (all 2015), Ir para volver, 12th Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador; Anti-Narcissus, CRAC Centre Rhénan d’Art Contemporain, Alsace, Altkirch ( both 2014); Weather Permitting 9th Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre; Suicide Narcissus, Renaissance Society, Chicago; Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 33° Panorama da Arte Brasileira, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; Utopien Vermeiden, Werkleitz Biennale 2013, Halle; Tropicalia Negra, Museo Experimental el Eco, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico DF (all 2013); The Imminence of Poetics, 30th Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo (2012).
With the support of Fundació Antoni Tàpies and Esther Schipper