The lynx “is sensed but not seen”, we were told. Curious about the collective imagination that envelops the figure of the Iberian lynx we travelled around the area surrounding the Malcata mountain range, through places that witnessed its recent disappearance.
Its descriptions portrait an evasive and almost invisible animal. In popular mythology it is associated with secrecy and the revelation of obscure truths, clairvoyance, the world of the dead, to the border of places that are forbidden to man, but also to the sun and light.
In “Edge Effect” we evoke the spectre of the lynx through the places it inhabited and the accounts that people shared with us. We gathered visual and sound testimonies relating to sightings and focused on the remnants of its presence and absence, bearing in mind the current state of preservation and eminent danger of extinction.
We devised an installation composed of two juxtaposed projections where we sought to establish a constant relationship between verticality and gravity, the sky and the earth, between micro and macro scales, inducing states that oscillate between a desire to contemplate and a state of alertness: a feeling of emergency that we associate with the disappearance of the lynx. We create a structure of images that occasionally encounters the atmosphere in which the stories take place. But it is fleeting. It hides itself following the rhythm of the day until the nightfall. We were also interested in introducing displaced elements that would form a contrast with the weight of the words, whether to trigger a unfolding of the meaning the images or to highlight aspects that are analogous to the physiology and symbology of the lynx.
The idea of including the optical disks came to us early in the process. These elements are references to notions of apparition, illusion, dazzlement, camouflage, and speed, which we relate to the idea of an invisible presence that continues to orbit that place.
Conversation with local people regarding the Iberian Lynx, recorded in Vale do Espinho (Sabugal, Portugal) in 2012 – Original version, not included in the installation
Edge Effect (2013) – Installation composed of two synchronous and juxtaposed HD projection; Colour; Sound; 14’40’ – Still Frames
“Sometimes I would be in a pathway and I’d see them wandering about “Look, there goes a Lynx!”, you would spot one occasionally… But it’s just for a second. Once, when I was hunting, I was coming from the Edra valley and there was one planted on the track, motionless, it even stared at me. And I was staring back at it and thinking “ What a pretty little critter, this is not worth killing”. Then it walked away, I didn’t kill it. I took a good look at it, I though it was very graceful; they are harmless, let them go.
I’ve never seen one sleeping, but if I had I wouldn’t have grabbed it! I’ve heard they sleep during daytime, it’s like a cat I suppose… But I’ve never seen them sleeping and if I had I sure as hell wouldn’t have reached for it, it’s dangerous. If it’s sleeping try grabbing it, I‘d like to see what it does to you. It attacks you and shreds you to pieces, one must be careful with it. They say the Lynx’s bite is nasty, I heard they leave you with a big wound when they bite. I’ve been told about that, that it was dangerous, when I was a lad I heard the old people talking about it. They would say: “That is nasty! The bite of the Lynx is nasty”.
In those days I was still a young boy, now I’m almost eighty, so you can see how long ago that was. Close to the stream, next to Elíso, people where taking the linen out of the water. Suddenly, my father noticed a strange animal that was coming down the hill. My dad was formidable at stone throwing, when he was young. While the critter was getting closer to where he was, in the stream, he was picking up some stones, picking some more stones, and just as the critter is preparing to cross the stream he blocks its path. He pelts it with stones here and there and the animal didn’t get its way. It tries to escape, goes up the wall, stones flying everywhere and the critter is forced to make a run for it and goes up an alder tree, but my dad didn’t see it. “Where did it go? It didn’t go through here, it didn’t go through there, it must be somewhere around here”. The animal goes up the tree and where did it perch itself? Right at the top. The alder was covered in foliage and my father couldn’t spot it. Suddenly he sees some kind of nest in the tree and he thinks “Could it be it over there?”. Stones fly to the top, the Lynx is forced down. My dad hits it with one that leaves it hanging from the tree, but it held on and didn’t fall. Then he picks up a stick and says to me “You, go up the alder and hit it!” No way! I was afraid! There was another boy there; he grabs the stick and goes up the tree, when it sees him coming it tries to escape and the boy strikes it, but my father had hit him so hard that he was already shaking. It fell down on a puddle of water from the stream and it died.
Folks used to catch it… Sometimes they did, but its thing to escape, when there was a tree around, was to go up the tree, it’s really a feline, a cat.”
Excerpt from the testimony of Mr. Eduardo, collected in Meimão