Joana Maria Pereira

PhD Work

Suspension or Suspense: Drawing and Printmaking Strategies to Represent and Think the Theme of Suspension in the Still Image

The project presented, here, draws attention to the 'intermittent' condition of certain still images, those suggesting a continuous sense of tension between distance and intimacy, fiction and reality, or inscription and dissolution. Fundamentally, addressed to the use of powders in the print practice I shall explore, in this study, the visceral and poetic properties of the image/subject skins and their potential to cause change. Often representing a temporary condition, suspension and suspense circumscribe a wide range of meanings including discontinuance, omission or delay, indicating that a prolonged order or linear sequence was fragmented. Commonly connected with cinema but also used within the frameworks of literature and music, suspense re-counts an inevitable state of tension and ambiguity. Jean Baudrillard defines it as the 'eternal simulation of disaster'. Something is out of place or is performed in an unexpected way: a threat of disappearance or a sign of movement in the still image - a shift - a subtle mutation that I intend to operate through print and drawing practices. 

The work will make use of existing imagery – found objects – taken from everyday life. Fragments, words, ordinary details, nevertheless converted into images and therefore inevitably trapped in their own physicality. Materiality has, in fact, a main role in this study, since I intend to dedicate a significant part of it to exploring and deconstructing the unique qualities of tactile and material perception, assuming that it is the Object skin(s), its surface, its mask(s) and its textures that frequently absorb my attention, engaging not just the sense of touch but also activating inquisitive responses. Furthermore, I am particularly interested in that moment when one thing suddenly takes the appearance of another; tracing and mapping how certain mechanisms of appropriation and mimesis interact and operate in order to create ambiguity. Thus, being predominantly susceptible to transformation, I will make extensive use of powder in my practice, paying particular attention to make-up powders. Formless and imprecise, it is, as I see it, the element that can primarily link suspension with suspense, evoking at the same time body and physical disintegration. 

At the centre of my methodology will be the collection of found imagery and the subsequent process of detecting and constructing analogies. In order to unveil these connections, I propose the evocation of a vast range of references, developing a transversal theoretical approach crossing distinct areas of production - correspondences ultimately activated through practice, both writing and drawing. In any case, a significant emphasis of this project is on a poetic understanding of print practice, regarding transference and touch. So, the notion of drawing as print (Imprint) gains importance. Imprint, most prominently applied by Roland Barthes and Andrei Tarkovsky, is in fact, in the very roots of printmaking, photography and film. Thereby and particularly regarding the subject of suspense, I ask: can film help us thinking and representing the suspense/suspension in the still image? Finally, can we effectively talk about a cinematic dimension of prints and drawing? 


  • Joana Pereira
  • PhD


    School of Arts & Humanities



  • Joana (1979, Portugal) graduated in sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto. In 2009 she completed an MA in Drawing and Printmaking and in 2011 an MA in Teaching, Art and Design Education, both in the University of Porto. In 2010, she was a monitor teacher at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto. 

    Since her graduation she has taught and worked as a visual artist. Her recent practice has developed mainly in the framework of Drawing and Printmaking. 

    She is currently a researcher in the Printmaking department at the RCA.