Artist Cinemas

Looking Up

With films by Sandro Aguilar, Luis López Carrasco, Kevin Jerome Everson, Pauline Curnier Jardin, Jacqueline LentzouMalena Szlam

And interviews and responses by Ana David, Matías Piñeiro, Alejandra Rosenberg Navarro, Francisco Valente, Daniela Delgado ViteriUli Ziemons

Convened by Jorge Jácome

You’re walking down the street, you look up and see that, in a split second, a piano is about to fall on your head. Unbelievable. Bam. You see stars. Everything is spinning. Confetti. Beginnings. Money. Dreams. Planets. Pixels. Your parents. Turtles. External hard drives. Kisses on the lips in the Aegean Sea. Your whole life in a flash. 


Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of having a television screen on the ceiling of my room. Imagine lying in bed, looking up and falling asleep to your favorite shows. I’m almost positive I saw this in a famous person’s house, on the MTV show “Cribs. What a dream. 


This generation will no longer be able to see the stars: Light pollution is growing by 10% a year.” In a recent article for El País, Miguel Ángel Criado wrote about visual pollution and how it negatively affects our ability to look up at the sky and admire the stars. In the article, scientists, researchers and astronomers discuss how, with each passing year and with urban growth, light pollution increases and the number of stars we can see in the sky decreases. 


I don’t get why most people who are afraid of heights feel the effects of vertigo when they look down but don’t feel anything when they look up at the sky. Why aren’t we constantly vomiting and dizzy with vertigo of the cosmos?


In Portuguese “heaven” and “sky” are the same word.


In the future, we will have to leave our homes (those of us who can still afford to have homes), our cities, in order to “see.” Like when we’re in the countryside, in the forest, or at the beach, and we hear someone say, “I came here to breathe.” What are you doing here? “I came here to see.”


My boyfriend has a hereditary disorder called cone-rod dystrophy. The first time he went to the hospital, the doctor, after examining him, asked him whether he could see the stars in the sky. My boyfriend knows that over time he will progressively lose his peripheral vision and will no longer be able to see the stars. His brother, who has the same disorder in a more advanced stage, decided to buy a Tesla.


On the day I am writing these notes, an American military official looked up and saw a Chinese spy balloon the size of three buses. 


The most moving night sky I have ever seen was on vacation last year in Ikaria, an island in the Aegean Sea. I’m going to book a flight there with the fee from this curation. 


To be honest, the stars and sky have become unnecessary. Historically, they have always guided us—helped us know what time it was, where we were, where we were going. But, the truth is, with the invention of the clock and the invention of Google Maps, humans no longer need the stars or sky for anything. 


One of the films I tried to include in this program was (2017–2022) by Johann Lurf. However, the film is only available for viewing on large screens. Even so, Johann very graciously sent me lovely photos from his new book of people looking up. You can get the book here


As a friend of mine says, “The planet is a rotating stage.” And that’s where I want to be: being watched by the stars, the planets, by aliens, and by everything that has yet to begin. Looking up, upside down. 


Some years from now, we will probably look at the sky the same way we look at the ocean today: the beauty and immensity of the waves in contradiction with the weight of cruel history of colonialism. Intergalactic exploration is already underway, and we have the responsibility to anticipate the new ways in which humans will extract, invade, destroy, and plunder other planets. There is still time. We are the aliens. 


When we destroy this world and are all on a spaceship heading somewhere else, these are the six films I am bringing with me on my external hard drive. 


This program is a mixture of all of this. And it’s none of this. The program suggests connections between the sky, the universe, dreams, flying, religion, aliens, possibilities, imagination, life, and death. 

Looking Up is an online film program put together by Jorge Jácome as the twelfth edition of Artist Cinemas. It runs in six episodes released on this page every Monday from March 18 through April 24, 2023—streaming a new film each week accompanied by a commissioned conversation or response published in text form.

For more information, contact

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Jorge Jácome (b. 1988) is a filmmaker and artist based in Lisbon. In his works, which blur the lines between documentary and fiction, he investigates relations between utopias, nature, disappearance, and desire. His films have been shown in festivals and exhibition contexts, such as the Berlinale, TIFF, San Sebastian, NYFF, 25 FPS, Winterthur, IndieLisboa, Curtas Vila do Conde, Palais de Tokyo, Tate Modern, MoMa, and Tabakalera among others. He is a recipient of the Critics FIPRESCI Prize (Forum) at the Berlinale with Super Natural (2022); Best Film Award at the Hamburg Short Film Festival and Grand Prize at Indielisboa with Past Perfect (2019); Grand Prix at 25 FPS, Best Film Award at the Hamburg Short Film Festival, Punto de Vista, BIEFF, and New Talent at IndieLisboa with Flores (2017), among others. Parallel to his work as a filmmaker he works as an editor of projects by other filmmakers, and regularly collaborates in performing arts projects.


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