Windows of the World by André Vicente Gonçalves
André Vicente Gonçalves,
Humans have an innate compulsion to document their surroundings. And that compulsion is definitely strong in the young Portuguese photographer André Vicente Gonçalves. He recently roused the interest of the media with an ambitious project to photograph the windows of all the world's cities.
André believes that it is the windows that give buildings their real personality; they are the portals - and barriers between our private realm and the rest of the world. Every architect, every design school has fashioned them with specific characteristics, consequently adding to the identity of their birthplace.
In order to provide an objective understanding of his work, Gonçalves amassed them into collages, one for each of the cities he visited. Each collage is the exact reflection of the mood and the sensations felt on a stroll around that city. Like a hundred and thirty years ago, when Muybridge combined sixteen different shots to create motion photography that described the horse's gait, Gonçalves brings together his photos of thirty-two windows to describe a whole city.
The project began in Portugal, the photographer's native land, but it quickly spread to cities in Italy and European capitals. Still, the Portuguese shots – for Floornature he selected the photos of Porto, Evora, Costa Nova and Lisbon – are the ones that clearly showcase the distinction between the different characters of the cities - the colours, the shapes, the decorations. Here, each detail of every window helps craft the imagery that distinguishes that particular place. The entire work has an exceptional connection with Fundamentals, the title chosen by Rem Koolhaas for the Venice Biennale 2014. Indeed, what Koolhaas wanted with this title was for curators to explore the importance of history, by bringing to light and making the most of all the fundamental research that goes into the projects and the exhibitions, which is usually left behind the scenes. This research, inaugurated by Koolhaas, becomes the main subject in
Windows of the World.
"Gaze into the tiled windows of Lisbon and see the Moorish influence on the city’s history. In Venice, sun-inspired tones reflect the city’s warmth and hospitality. Windows in Alpine regions take their inspiration from the mountains themselves, with their soaring arches, peaks, and elaborate scenes that frame many of the region’s windows. In the Azores, Sao Miguel’s windows incorporate local volcanic rock into their design—closing the gap between nature and civilisation even more. It’s not always the most famous windows, nor the most lovely, who tell the best stories.»
Perhaps the success of the project by Gonçalves is because of our incontrovertible thirst for knowledge, our ability to classify and file away. Perhaps the project is successful because it is commensurate with the imagery of the web, where all you need is a quick glimpse to understand a single part of the complex world. Or perhaps this success is simply based on his capacity to craft photos that really can express the personality of an architectural element, finding the right chromatic movement and the right play of light and shadow. The fact of the matter is that the windows of Vigo definitely aren't the windows of Venice, Notting Hill or Paris. The project has travelled around the world and for whatever the reasons, lots of people are snapping up his shots. It is the project itself that makes André Vicente Gonçalves right; he uses his camera to paint pictures of all the diversity and beauty of European architecture, without setting any limits. Tibet, Russia, Latin America - there's a whole world of windows waiting for him.