From June 15 to July 10, 2020, Studies for A Minor History of Trembling Matter (2017), a film by Tamar Guimarães & Kasper Akhøj, available online as part of the program Windows (18 rue du Château).

Studies for a Minor History of Trembling Matter was originally exhibited at CRAC Alsace as part of Le jour des esprits est notre nuit (2019). Shot in the town of Palmelo (Goiás, Brazil), the film follows two mediums by the name of Divino and Lázaro, whose voices can be heard throughout, as they navigate between moments of communal gathering and their private lives.

The artist Candice Lin, who wrote about the work in an extensive 2018 review for X-TRA, aptly describes the specificity of the film’s context: “Palmelo was founded in 1929 by a man named Captain Gervasio. A group of eighteen people, including Gervasio’s descendants, created a Spiritist study group, Luz da Verdade, that later became a Spiritist center with an accompanying sanatorium that healed its patients through energy work known as the Magnetic Chain. Most of the inhabitants of Palmelo are practicing Spiritist mediums, and many of them are employed in civil service.” Spiritism, it’s worth noting, was codified by the French educator Allan Kardec who specified the channels of communication with the spirit realm. The film observes the triangulation of community, spirituality and health as manifested in Palmelo’s mediums, allowing the viewer to discern traces of a “minor history”: the myriad elements that constitute the subtext of modernity. As Lin notes, the camera is equally attentive to Caesalpinia pulcherrima, a plant tied to subaltern medicinal practices, as to a torn chromolith of Saint Lazarus, a biblical figure representing illness and healing, whose shared influences are felt in the persons on screen.

In stark contrast to our current pandemic-strained medical regime, the film’s protagonists are seen holding hands during a Magnetic Chain in an intense act of communal healing that feels all too impossible, but so necessary.

We thank the artists for allowing us to screen the work again.

Thomas Patier