Presença is like an old movie reel. Unlabelled; thirty years old at a guess, bearing the rust and erosion of age. I set it rolling. I’m presented with a series of murky landscape shots, covered in blotches of noise and muffled by analogue decay, jumping ungracefully from one scene to the next as announced by the pop of heavy-headed manual editing. Some of the scenes are stuck loops; dream-like folds in the ribbon of time, replaying the same ethereal voice and abrasive crackle of tape, lulling me into the tiny details and muted obscurities. Sometimes the film explodes into noise, as though someone has sabotaged as section of the reel – hideous bursts of static and ghostly malformations of source sounds (“Sarnambi”) or the garbled squeals of a projector jam (“Dois”).
I hear unintelligible voices whimpering in small bathrooms; guitars ripped out of old flamenco records; ambience streaming over the tape like over-exposed sunlight; choirs recorded in multi-storey car parks; filmscore strings warped into reverse. It’s a catalogue of experiences of varying fidelity and spaces of varying size – a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing, telling only fragments of the narrative of an anonymous life. I squint and strain into Presença like a detective trying to identify the link between everything. Am I missing something? Would the discovery of one particular detail bring these fragments into coherence? That’s the great thing about Presença. Figueiredo generates the sense that there’s a hidden logic coursing through the seemingly dissociative lurches between estranged voices and moaning metal objects, positioned just beyond my ability to comprehend.