About "Saint Roch and the Dreamers"
Made for the Church of Saint Roch in Lisbon, the sound installation “The Consecration of the Waters” has as its main element the drawing “Saint Roch and The Dreamers”; a drawing made specifically for one of the two columns that separate the narthex from the central nave; a column that, once past the windshield, stands on the right hand side of the entrance. This drawing transposes in image the spiritual dimension expressed in the architectural structure of the church: it’s placed upon one of the two columns and over one of the two existing holy water fonts which, together with the baptismal bath, mark the existence of an antechamber that either prevents or allows the visitor to advance to the temple itself. It’s a threshold that, in remote times, hindered the access to penitents and catechumens. Such space, the narthex, is therefore a first stage between an outer profane world and a sacred inner space, which leads the visitor either to confession or to God.
In the drawing, this antechamber is represented, in the foreground, by several sleeping characters dressed in pijamas; sleep being taken here as a dimension in which control - either over themselves or others - is suspended. Some of them are recognizable characters in today's politics. Two have a key in their hands, in a denotation of access or of their condition as guardians of some sort of earthly power. Two figures, awakened, are embracing and watching over them. Are these part of the dreams of those asleep, or are they watching over their dreams in their sleep? One plays them lullabies, the other observes them with tenderness. More than fulfilling the role of the sentinel, they are vehicles of love and guardians of the transition, reminiscent of guardian angels. A little further, already inside the sacred space, Saint Roch is squatting on the rocks on the bank, drawing something in the water with a feather. A prayer? Certainly such water lines come forth to heal us, perhaps even to dissolve the plague from the mind and the body of men. We know that the draughtsman is Saint Roch because of the dog standing behind him with a loaf of bread in its mouth. It is said that, while returning home from a pilgrimage to Rome, Roch contracted the plague in Piacenza. By isolating himself in a forest on the outskirts of the city, to avoid transmitting the disease, he was saved by the waters of a spring and by a dog that daily brought him some bread, stolen from the pantry one of the region’s noblemen.
In the foreground of the drawing, we can also find a sleeping cheetah. In some African narratives, this creature symbolizes, because of its speed that causes it to disappear in seconds, the passage between dimensions, evoking the existence of portals to other worlds. Near the upper margin of the drawing, in the background, pointing out the presence of a divine power, a waterfall occupies the scene. These are waterfalls capable of purifying, nourishing or destroying both the just and the unjust. These waters end up dripping, through a shaft on the rock, into the church’s holy water basin, transcending the edges of the paper‘s frame. On the bottom edge of the drawing, close to us, appears a hand that, infiltrated in silence, gently steals the key from one of the sleeping characters. Does the hand belong to one of us, it’s spectators? Faced with the dream’s transformative power, this hand acknowledges the transient nature of power in the world.