saxa loquuntur

saxa loquuntur maura grimaldi still 2 med res


HD film from 16mm. 2021

Projection. 13 min. Variable dimmensions


a film by  maura grimaldi

collaboration and interlocution  patrícia black

hands  maura grimaldi, patrícia black, natália mendonça, catherine quéloz, liliane schneiter

cinematography  maura grimaldi

text by  maura grimaldi

music  hannes fessmann «microtonal music with a stone – round and angle»



Maura Grimaldi's new short film narrates, in dialogue form, the meeting between Elizabeth and a geologist. As they seek to intertwine interests and consolidate an intimate relationship, they demonstrate their attraction for the lithic world. In an essayistic way, they go through concepts in the field of natural sciences to look at the migratory movements and to estabelish analogies between human and rocky bodies.

The film deals with the geological universe as methodology and as theme, seeking a polysemic approach to stones and paying attention to the ways they have been represented in literature and visual arts at different times. Likewise, the film investigates different areas of knowledge such as ecotheory, environmental studies, new materialisms, post-humanism, media archeology and geology of media, to question economic and social models that legitimize the exploitation of certain bodies (living and non-living).

The project borrows concepts from geology – such as erratic blocks, deconformity, unconformity, sedimentation, bedrock, metamorphism, among many others – in order to slowly create, just like the stones, a fiction.


Letter to the stones or that which does not create slime


Leandro Muniz and Maura Grimaldi


It is Sunday morning, and after weeks of greyness, it is sunny, which cheers up my plants and also me. Even though I am saturnine, I also need solar energy. It is striking how weather events rebound on life, from the organization of cities to people's moods. In this sense, I find it curious that you chose to deal with stones: besides being a recurrent subject in art and literature, the various expressions with this word, or the different approaches on this theme, show how the object condenses different possibilities of interpretation, from psychoanalysis to studies on the formation of the universe. Denise Ferreira da Silva says that the matter of the stars is the same as that of our bodies.


The topic has led me to think about the particular x universal binomial, which is the basic structure of Western thought. There is no “The Stone”. Each one is the singular result of multiple material interactions over time, and in each one different flows are condensed. Looking at them has led me to sediment desires and actions. Thinking about the extended temporality of a stone's formation calms me, concerning the small conflicts of life or the speed of the current state of things.


This is the third time we have worked together and I remembered the day we first met at a show I was organizing in 2017. You commented that it was “an exhibition for people who like art”. In these processes, I admire your effort to create precise methods and understand the dynamics of the places where your work circulates. We are talking about rocks because we like art and how it can create connections between these different interpretations of the phenomenon I spoke about before, also introducing the element of imagination, one of the greatest political powers of our field. 




i try to recover from where the desire to work with geology as an object and method was born. i remember wanting to understand the stone-tape theory which seemed to contain the same mystery as the voyager golden records. i have always been blown away by it. perhaps by its loss of spatio-temporal scale. perhaps by its capacity to impel us to a demanding task of imagining.


the stone is the possibility of refusal. the first weapon. violence and self-defense. it is hermetic to human arrogance – as wislawa szymborska said in conversation with a stone.


but they were already present in my photographic experiments in the first years of the fine arts course. i think they recovered the reflection on the histories of landscapes. and to look at the historiography of the landscape is to realize the histories of our own bodies and ways of narrating.


when I invited you, you gave me a cornerstone. I got from your mouth the term that was missing to entangle the multitude of interests that permeated the petric universe I was looking at: polysemy. not only because it recovered the method applied in the construction ofthevideo-ofthetext-ofthedrawings-oftheencounters but because it let us see the degree of construction of a word and – why not? – of things.


still on polysemy: multivocality and multitude as strategies that i associate with the construction of the narration. this fiction carries the ballast of documentality. the dialogues in the film start from an even larger text. written in a dramaturgical mode. but which merges different literary genres. it was collectively built, even if the participants were not aware of the process. and also in a collector way. since it is a gathering of fragments appropriated during two months of experiences and conversations during an artistic residency.


it echoed in my eyes and ears that “we are talking about rocks because we like art and how it can create connections between these different interpretations of the phenomenon.” at the end. it is because we like to narrate. and we like people. human or not.


denise was an important interlocutor during the elaboration of this film. the concept of non-locality seems to go in one of the structuring points of this lithic narrative. perhaps because the idea of the erratic block. the one that slides. that travels. that deforms itself in contexts. makes me connect non-locality > erratic block > gender indetermination > linguistic transits. putting the terms in relation. i leave here the erotic-geological glossary collected from the excavations.


If we are made of the same matter as the stars. we are also lithic.




At the exact instant I thought about you, the e-mail arrived. I was listening to Mr. Sun, which is another of those narratives that mirror landscape and subject in constant transit. An interpersonal subjectivity, transtemporal and in flow.


“this journey makes me connect non-locality > erratic block > gender indeterminacy > linguistic transits” – perhaps because of the potential negativity in these concepts. “In calling for touch, I do not intend to invent any concept. But to put into relation certain senses that seem to recover mineral wisdom in the body “, is an idea of my friend Tarcisio Almeida. But in your work, this relation seems to operate in another way: not by the decomposition of the definition that a concept presupposes, but by multiple contacts between concepts from different areas. Just look at the glossary.


Yes, we are lithic. Calcium in our bones, iron in our blood, and so on. We have to escape from the dichotomy of Western thought that sees nature as an object. Stones dance and we are stones too. What if we think of their movement as an alternative to the frenetic consumption of things, people, images, experiences?


Our playlist stones, rocks, and pebbles has songs like Geni e o Zepelim, with this poor girl stoned in a public square; Like a rolling stone and the existential tone of people lost in the indeterminacy of the world; Como uma pedra a rolar and the wonderful capacity of Brazilian culture to make versions; If you hold a stone, which is an allusion to Lygia Clark's work Stone and Air; Stone free; Con la misma piedra; Solid as a rock; Pedra e areia; and, of course, Pedra que não cria limo [Stone that does not create slime]. Histories of childhood, broken hearts, and time intertwined in a single dynamic.


Gorgo is another video you made that is genetically linked to saxa loquuntur – the stones speak… In it, elbows are breasts, knees kiss, and a clenched fist can be a heart. It takes me a while to know what is behind the shadow, I don't know if it is the texture of the video, the unsynced relation with the subtitles, or that anguish that arises when we cannot classify things. Is it a rock or a camouflaged octopus? A mineral or a piece of bacon? Doubts only multiplied in the second work… The pale palette generates a temporal shuffle. An image that looks like a distant landscape is revealed on the scale of the hand. In the images of stones with straight cuts, it is evident how they hold and are landscapes. Another cut that amazes me is the reddish stone. It looks like muscles, like fat, in contrast to the green background that accentuates this carnal feeling.


Your stones refuse, but in saxa loquuntur they are very present, unlike in Gorgo. If there are fragments of this in that one – the hands that draw the shadow on the wall or even the process of the track – the images of images make me think that, in your practice, there is a dilution of borders between “research” and “product”. A news report, a map, a billboard, a painting, and a display window appear in sequence, de-hierarchized, which leads me to something you mentioned in some conversation: desaturation.


As with so many other decisions in the work, you have opted for the negative. Talking about stones is your way of talking about the present moment: their slow mutation does not respond to the speed of practical life; their orbit, launches us into the great dance of time; if, materially, they must be the most present things on Earth – in the Universe?–, their symbolic meanings allow us to deal with multiple associations around experiences such as sexuality, psychic functioning, territorial and political disputes. Diaspore. Diásporo. Stones with two pores, porous, diasporic, foreign. Stones are letters.


There is also the dialogue with the geologist, among other agents that inform the video. “We make art because we like people” and because we want to talk in a relationship of time and space that goes beyond our logical boundaries. From a conversation with the dead – your interest in such materials like 16mm leads to this reflection –, to the future. And we are talking. Everything is part of the work – the way of making, the way of making it public, the way of discussing –, or better: practice. You have also internalized dialogue as methodology.




decomposition caught my attention.


the aggregation and disintegration of stones. sedimentation is related although classified as a distinct phenomenon. we talked about it as a method for our dialog. the text slowly built to accompany the video. but what if we looked for the similarity between sedimentation and decomposition?


during my research I found a mineral that scientists consider groundbreaking. it is the association of elements from the petrochemical industry with mineral sediments. from these reconstruction processes – the fusion of layers and rotting of materials – others emerge. multicomposites.


the plasticonglomerates make me think of the sambaquis (despite being a frightening testimony of industrial production and the predatory human form). the idea of the deposit is latent in both. even though their relationship with the environment holds abysmal differences.


I have been privileging film materiality for some time now. it carries with it a dimension of obsolescence and I have been reflecting on this. perhaps because this material and the technical image invite me to think about aging. just like the stones. it is not by chance that the film ends with the two hands exchanging a pyrite.


film materials are expensive and their time seems extended. what interests me. i am more and more committed to this slowing down. do less. in more time. respect the time of things. especially the thing called the body.


the footage was 16mm. the editing process was through digital devices. the survival of film in other media overshadows a more careful thinking about the body of the image. but it gains in its pulverization.


the music for the saxa loquuntur comes from hannes fessmann's experimentation with music and stones. something that was already studied by his father. it is a microtonal music from marble pieces shaped for better wave propagation. hannes gets the notes by moistening the hands and generating friction on the surface of the instrument – it is therefore the sound that comes out of the stone.


as for the diaspore/a – it is one of the most dense and still unfinished layers. perhaps because i think about it every day. because i talk about it every day. because i live immigration. those who immigrate leave in search of an idea of future. but which one? you only know after you arrive and live it. “Why are so many Brazilians leaving the country?”. the profile of those who migrate is diverse. it is to believe in building a material and political structure. it is also a possibility for some bodies. it is a demanding process. it is to be a foreigner. it is the need to rebuild a world. there are those who have the privilege of immigrating. there are those who have no other option but to immigrate.


this reflection remains.


it asks for the time of sedimentation.

Maura Grimaldi develops, in her research and artistic practice, issues related to phantasmagoria, obsolete technologies, archeology and geology of media. Through experimentation with various optical devices, Maura seeks to reflect on the economy of attention and the forms of subjectivation in contemporaneity. Among her main exhibitions and projects are:  Utopian space residency in Geneva (Pro Helvetia / COINCIDENCIA South America / Swiss Art Council 2021), the solo show “The work appering in your memory is not mine” (Virgilio Gallery, 2018); PIMASP critical accompaniment program (MASP, 2016/2017); HANGAR residency (Lisbon, 2017); PIVÔ Pesquisa (Sao Paulo, 2017); VI Bolsa Pampulha (Belo Horizonte, 2016); XI Red Bull Station Residency (Sao Paulo, 2015); residency at Centro de Arte Jardim Canadá – JACA (Belo horizonte, 2014); the exhibition “The vanguard is in you” (Coimbra, 2014); artist residency at École Supérieure des beaux-arts TALM-Tours (France, 2013); I Photography Program Show 2012/2013 (CCSP, 2012) and the exhibition “Esquinas” ( MAC USP, 2012). 


Leandro Muniz (São Paulo, 1993) works as an artist and curator.  With a degree in fine arts from USP, he is a curatorial assistant at MASP. He was a reporter at seLecT magazine between 2019 and 2021 and was part of the study group Depois do Fim da Arte, coordinated by Dora Longo Bahia. He has exhibited in spaces and projects such as Museu de Arte do Rio, Casa de Cultura do Parque, Galeria Aura, DAP Londrina, Espaço das Artes USP, Sesc, Fábrica Bhering, Casa Alagada, Ateliê397, among others. He was curator of the shows Pulso (Bica plataforma, 2021), Torrente (Galeria Karla Osório, 2020), Esquadros (Partilha, 2020), migalhas (Galeria O Quarto, 2019), Lampejo (Galeria Virgilio, 2019), Disfarce (Oficina Cultural Oswald de Andrade, 2017), among others. His texts can be found in publications and portals such as Arte que acontece, Relieve Contemporáneo, Terremoto and Revista Rosa, as well as in catalogs and exhibitions. He regularly teaches courses and lectures in cultural venues such as MASP, Pinacoteca, Plataforma Zait and EBAC.