She looks into me, by Nuno Moreira


In Zona, his previous book, Nuno Moreira explored the limit of the dream and the unconscious. Using the same techniques of staging and scenography, he has published, early this year, this new opus, much more accomplished and which now clearly claims its surrealist filiation, including the title borrowed from a poem by Paul Eluard: She looks into me, which opens the book.

In his previous work, it seems that Nuno sought to « capture » his moments of unconsciousness, whereas in the realization of She looks into me, he appropriated the unconscious to strive to represent it, and his work is now much closer to that of the Surrealists. Life, death, dreams, thoughts, are the raw material. The threads are woven into a play. The pictures are always aesthetic, but it is to make us forget their presence and allow us to focus on the narration which remains interpreted by everyone’s mind. It draws, one after the other, the « being », the « becoming » and the process of deconstruction that follows (« unbecoming »). Consistency remains throughout the book, with recurring patterns that allow us to read a continuum, such as the cycle of life and death, which are, of course, ubiquitous motifs throughout the book. The rhythms change, accelerate and then slow down, before accelerating again. In this book, all the formal elements that constitute it (photos, layout, texts …) disappear at the service of the storytelling.

And finally, the title refers us to the perception that Nuno Moreira proposes to us. It is no longer a question of looking at things, but rather of looking into things, in the sense of the original French title of the poem, Elle se penche sur moi, which speaks of being available to understand the other, to find a confidence in him/her. Where it is about seeing in the other to put his life/love in his/her hands, proof of ultimate confidence, beyond life and death. Then one reads there love, the only one capable of transcending the physical limit of the body, of time, of the wear and tear that reappears in the third part of the book. Death approaches, and one then questions oneself about existence, his own and that of the other, whom we build a relation with.

The book is beautifully printed with black and white tones incredibly rich. The open spine allows a clear reading of the photos. A booklet with a text in Portugese and in English by Adolfo Luxuria Canibal, Portugese musician and poet accompanies the softcover book. Limited edition of 200 copies, 22 x 28 cm, 84 pages with 42 B&W photos. Foreword by M. F. Sullivan and afterword by Jesse Freeman.

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Zona, by Nuno Moreira

Zona is not the easiest book to understand it was given me to see recently. In a very neat formal aesthetics, the book is divided into “chapters” that are punctuated by texts written by José Luis Peixoto. The two overlap remarkably, black and white photos on the white pages and silver text on black pages. The words come chanting issues that emerge in photographs.


As I said above, the book is not an easy access and if we are not careful, we can easily slip on the aesthetics and ease through the book without even realizing the story that weaves itself. But if only one wants to take the time to enter it, this book becomes fascinating. We discover the imaginary of the unconscious, the relation of the self (the ego of the viewer) to himself and the relation of the self (ego again of the viewer) to another. Nuno Moreira plays with the ambiguity of images and text. Do we stand in the picture, or are we the person questioned in search of the other, or more precisely, in search of another presence.

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The images have the precision of a dream, the details of a clinical precision that refer to surrealist experiments (tongue and scissors that can not fail to remind the eye of An Andalusian Dog by Buñuel). This book explores the unconscious and guides us without knowing what the outcome will be. Some images, stronger than others (but this is an individual choice), will remain printed in our mind. We do not really understand the narration, but snatches of memory keep coming to that memory makes emerge this impalpable unconscious. We discover ourselves, here to tell our dream, unable to decipher all the signs. Emerges finally what is hard to say but which, brick by brick, built our personality in the individual awareness, but also, and this is very present in this book, in its relation to the other. Nuno Moreira dare sketch here the assertion that we only exist by this relation to the other and thus the loss of this relation is our own loss, the loss of this individuality.

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There are also symbolic emotional loads in these images : a key, a milky liquid, hands that touch, that soothe; all of them are deeply charged with psychoanalytic symbolism. The face of a woman, struggling to be revealed. Who is she, hidden back, blur, behind a mask or in the shadow of a door. She reveals herself at the end, only to better escape, leaving behind the withered branch that makes us doubt having seen her for real.

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When finally we close the book and we go out of this dream, we are exhausted and excited at once. Flooded with sweat, we debate among afterimages, seeking a way out and a sense of it all. Finally, this book raises more questions than it answers. It has the charm and intimacy that make it a precious object to which one returns constantly in search of a perceived image, to which one reads backwards, like going back in time.

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The photos were shot during a live performance organized in sequences directed by the photographer and, if the kinematic side remains present, the layout abstracts itself from reality and takes us by the hand to say: tell us your dream !

Hardcover book with a grey linen cover with title embossed in black. 15 x 21,5 cm, 108 pages with 30 black and white photographs. Limited edition of 300 copies.

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