Kasper Akhøj and Tamar Guimarães
In the town of Palmelo in rural Goiás, Central Brazil, Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj recorded images of a healing session at the spiritual centre known as Luz da Verdade (literally, ‘The Light of Truth’) on 16 mm film. Founded in 1929 around a study group and a sanatorium, Palmelo now has a population of roughly 2,200. The majority of its inhabitants act as spiritual mediums who, in turn, operate as a collective group of complementary forces. Holding hands and facing a magnetiser, they practise a method which they call a ‘magnetic chain’ – a medical treatment based on a unique understanding of disease and health which contradicts our modern understanding and methods.
The resulting film, A família do Capitão Gervásio [Captain Gervásio’s Family], intersperses images of Palmelo with footage of modern Brazilian architecture, shot in such cities as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasília. Based on this construction, the film relates our modern cities to the twenty astral cities, whose coordinates were mapped inside Brazilian territory by one of Palmelo’s mediums and which have been described as ‘just like those that exist on Earth, but infinitely more perfect’. According to the artists’ projection or view, both types of cities aspire to the same ideals, like a kind of ectoplasm or projection of the future. In this way, past, present and future converge in an elaborate notion of existence, dream and reality.
A família do Capitão Gervásio is a continuation of the study that Tamar Guimarães began in 2006 about Francisco Candido Xavier, a celebrated Brazilian medium and psychographer, addressing the complexity of his work and public life in a country governed by a military dictatorship and with a turbulent past which continues to haunt it to this day. – LP