“O Rinoceronte de Dürer” (Dürer’s Rhinoceros)
Digital film transferred to high definition video
Video, 41 minutes
‘’Dürer's Rhinoceros’’ was filmed at the Miguel Bombarda Hospital in Lisbon and was made in collaboration with psychiatric patients of the day clinic. Built in 1896, the hospital’s panoptic was designed as a prison for the criminally insane following the original plans of Jeremy Bentham. This prison was used until the year 2000. The patients imagined themselves as inhabitants of the former insane asylum and acted out fictional scenarios within the cells. This reconstruction of the everyday life in the mental institution is complemented by voice-overs quoting Jeremy Bentham’s letter concerning the panoptic, Plato’s Cave, and Franz Kafka’s short story ‘’The Burrow.’’
‘’Dürer's Rhinoceros’’ takes its title from the famous engraving of Albrecht Dürer, an icon intrinsically related to the history of Portugal, that represents Ganda, the first rhinoceros to visit Europe in the sixteenth century. (It died en route to Italy.) The film reflects on a feature of the Portuguese cultural identity, described by the word saudade, a term difficult to translate, used to define a fatalist emotional state of longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost.
Javier Tellez creates videos installations and films in collaboration with mental patients that combine documentary with fictionalized narratives. His work has been exhibited recently at dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel and Peter Kilchmann Galerie, Zurich, and has been included in important exhibitions of major institutions worldwide including MoMA PS1, New York; ZKM Karlsruhe, KW, Berlin; Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon; and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1999, and in 2010-2011 he was a guest of the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) in Berlin. Tellez lives and works in Berlin and New York.