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Book review of Fluvial by Erik Vroons in GUP Magazine
The rustic riverbanks of Central Portugal, known to the locals as ‘praias fluviais’, are surrounded by sturdy shrubs. The watercourse is partially dammed to create a wide variety of pools, which are as calm as the main current is ferocious. The crystal-clear water that flows down from the mountains is refreshing. The granite boulders, shaped by the stream, are a perfect hub for picnics.
This is the backdrop of Fluvial, the latest book by Tito Mouraz (b.1977, Portugal). In the summer months, many Portuguese families spend time along these river beaches. While their children play with other kids, together discovering the pristine surroundings, the adults are enjoying the weightlessness of a carefree life in the puddles – allowing their middle-aged bodies to transform into inert things floating in colourful bathing suits.
The publication contains a few images - also made by Tito Mouraz, on the same locations - that have been adjusted and then printed in highly contrasting black & white (on deviating sheets of paper). The prolonged documentation of it all, between 2011 and 2018, is of essence too. Fluvial is, in fact, the outcome of the lifelong relationship that Tito Mouraz has with this territory. His personal childhood memories are somehow incorporated, giving the report of these ‘praias fluviais’ the confidentiality of a private album – making for the uncanny familiarity that resonates from the pages of this artist book.
Indeed, Fluvial carries sediments of sweet eroded evocations, meandering away from the actual experience; as to commemorate the unwinding spirit of an endless sojourn along the river, a perpetual recording and flushing of the ambrosial sweetness and cherubic innocence of a Portuguese summer weekend.