Gabriel Mascaro

EBB AND FLOW (A Onda Trás o Vento Leva)

Gabriel Mascaro

EBB AND FLOW (A Onda Trás o Vento Leva)


Year: 2012

Duration: 28 min

Video produced by the Han Nefkens Foundation


Born 1983 Brazil
Works in Brazil


31 May to 04 June 2012
MACBA: Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona
Plaça dels Àngels, 1, 08001,
Barcelona, Spain

This work is an art film that blurs the boundaries between documentary and fiction. Gabriel Mascaro’s approach to the main character, Rodrigo, and his everyday life is based on an artistic methodology that echoes one of the principal trends of documentary practice in contemporary art. Using subtle, distanced perspectives, the fixed camera remains close to the subject, his daily routine and his exchanges with others. 


Rodrigo, however, is a fictional persona, and parts of the plot have been scripted by Mascaro. Nonetheless, the work does not (or rather, need not) reveal which aspects of the film are taken from reality, and which have been staged. This approach has the effect of immensely broadening the imagination of the audience, although it might also cause some confusion. Furthermore, it succeeds in creating an atmosphere of verisimilitude through multiple connotations and implications. As such, Ebb & Flow overlaps with certain influential works, such as Change Nothing or In Vanda’s Room, by Portuguese film director Pedro Costa, in which viewers give themselves over to the aesthetics of elegance or decadence that overlays the film’s social relevance, before they can figure out (or perhaps because they are unable to) whether the film is documentary or fiction.


This brings us back to the political and perceptual aspects of the film. The artist employs objective camera work and deliberately mixes real and fictional elements. At the same time, he camouflages his own opinion of Brazilian society’s response to AIDS and deafness, choosing to embrace poetic narratives and depictions. This convinced and supposedly neutral methodology, which does not interfere with viewers’ interpretation, actually ends up being provocative; it encourages audiences to explore political issues on their own initiative, and has a strong inspirational effect. Thus, although this work remains silent it is actually eloquent, as is the character of Rodrigo in the film.