Convento is more than a film to watch. Convento is a film immersion. At the convergence of the rivers Oeiras and Guadiana, along what some believe to be a ley line possessing mystical energies, rises the four hundred year old monastery Sao Francisco. Its light earthen walls, marked by the sun and time, house a labyrinth of terraces, courtyards, gardens and fountains, all offering secret places to contemplate. An ancient irrigation system delivers water throughout, a silvery artery connecting all life. The monastery is surrounded by a surrealist storybook landscape, an amalgam of desert palms and cacti and a forest's darker, cooler life, within which animals of all kinds secretly contemplate. Originally built for an abbot and twelve monks, it is now a home, nature preserve, and artist's studio.
Geraldine and her late husband Kees, and her two sons, Christiaan and Louis, left Holland in 1980 trading a life of comfort and convenience for a monastery in ruins. A former dancer with The Dutch National Ballet Company, Geraldine left Holland to pursue a "dream" having grown weary of the repetitious monotony of classical choreography. She is a painter, sculptor and tireless tender of numerous edible gardens, from which she eats something daily. While she has stopped performing, she has never stopped moving.
Once a house of worship, there is a chapel now converted and dedicated to Christiaan's work. A kinetic artist, he rescues the skulls and bony remains of the expired indigenous wildlife from an eternity of sun-dried decay, and then reanimates them with bodies of servomechanism. He creates a "tension" between Nature's machinery and that which is man-made.
As motors hum and whir, his bio-mechanicals walk, talk, and fly, once again breathing new breath. They may be fleshless, but certainly not lifeless. Christiaan's engineering feats for the monastery are as beautiful as they are practical. He resurrected a derelict waterwheel that is now the leviathan heart of the aqua system. It is true functioning art.
SPACE Gallery (View)
538 Congress St.
Portland, ME 04101
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