Inside the Bienal, with Sofia Borges

The photographer Sofia Borges talks about the unforgettable work of Patrick Jolley 

Press image
Photograph taken by Patrick Jolley
Photograph by Patrick Jolley

With São Paulo’s 30th Art Bienal, now well underway, we talked to three Bienal artists – Sofia Borges, Eduardo Berliner and Shelia Hicks – and asked them to tell us about one fellow artist showing at the Bienal whose work had touched them in some way.


the photographer Sofia Borges talks about the haunting work of the Irish artist Patrick Jolley, who died tragically young in February 2012, suffering a heart attack while in India working on a film. 

‘I wasn’t familiar with the work of Patrick Jolley until I saw it at the Bienal. The show brings together various phases of his career – there are black-and-white photos and some very old videos, as well as some more recent, colour films.

‘There’s a series of photographs taken in the fog. Those images gave me a feeling of something intelligible – something very unusual. Having only seen the photos, I already really liked his work; but when I saw the videos, I liked it even more.

‘There’s one film where he burns a house, and another one where he filmed some monkeys. In another, he destroys the furniture in a house, throwing it down from one storey to the next.

‘There’s a video in which he cuts up and dismantles a sofa, and two videos with things that were destroyed or had caught fire – there’s this element of ruining something that was there.

‘These things really interest me – the ability to destroy the sense of something, or transform something through destruction. Destroying one thing in order for another to happen. The way you destroy something and it becomes something else – a sense of what’s left and what’s broken; a sense of change.That power of corruption is so interesting.

‘I got the impression that the installation probably doesn’t represent Jolley’s body of work completely. It seems like his work is very powerful and very broad, but what was there impressed me a lot. I really want to understand the work that’s there, and to see more things and relate to his work in a more complete way. It’s very cool – you get a real sense that there’s something he wants to talk about.’

By Claire Rigby


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