Uncanny River (The Crossing), 2014 - 2015

João Biscainho, Uncanny River (the crossing) 2014-2016

Uncanny River (The Crossing), 2014 - 2015



Video, color, no sound, 28’19’’, loop


Tempered glass, glass enamel, mirror, aluminium,

100,7 x 57,6 x 57,6 cm (version I) ED 5 + 2AP


Tempered glass, rear projection film, mirror, aluminium,

210 x 118,8 x 118,8 cm (version II) ED 2 + 1AP


Uncanny River (The Crossing), 2014-2015. Installation views at the author’s studio in 2017.

“The video installation Uncanny River (The Crossing), 2014-2015, chronicles the voyage across a wide river from shore to shore. The projection shows a continuous image of churning water, made by the turbulent wake of the ship, whilst the vessel itself, and the riverbank from which it has departed remain out of shot. The horizontal camera position is rotated by the artist so as to present the viewer with a vertical picture, which is then back-projected onto a sheet of black glass, with a mirror, set at a right angle, duplicating the swirling liquid. The lugubrious double image has the hypnotic quality of a maelstrom, drawing our attention into its depths.”



Nicolas de Oliveira and Nicola Oxley

in “The Missing Subject”, Future Nothingness, 

Mulberry Tree Press, January 2017


“We know that a river flows in one direction alone, but what our eyes can see is a river simultaneously flowing in and out. The greatest measure of dissonance arises – as in the experience created by this sculpture-installation – when the two alternatives are equally appealing. Faced with the conflict between what we know and what we see (or between what we believe we know and what we believe we see), we are compelled to mentally eliminate that which causes dissonance.“



Luísa Santos

in “João Biscainho - Uncanny River (The Crossing)”,  

Sistema Solar and Universidade  Católica Portuguesa, November 2019


“When I first viewed Joo Biscainho’s Uncanny River (The Crossing), I quickly became intrigued by this piece’s ability to capture and hold the viewer’s attention for unusually long periods of time. (…) Nothing captivates our attention and motivation more powerfully than the expectation of something we anticipate yet do not know. This expectation, held captive in an endless cycle of anticipation and frustration, becomes a somewhat projective tension, in a Rorschachian sense: what will, after all, emerge from these waters? From the murky waters of our soul a monster will emerge, an animal, a mermaid, a machine, or whatever else our fancy might dictate.“



Bernardo Barahona Corrêa

in “João Biscainho - Uncanny River (The Crossing)”,  

Sistema Solar and Universidade  Católica Portuguesa, November 2019


“In making sense of the world, humans rely on two fundamental cognitive procedures: the building and uses of concepts and the narrative construction of reality. Both procedures find in Biscainho’s Uncanny River (The Crossing) a challenging task. Though the video must have an end at a certain point, it is technically performed as an endless loop. There is no narrative, no action, no end to the continuously floating water. In the end there is not even a crossing. No narrative, no construction of reality: such would be an uncanny world. “



Peter Hannenberg

in “The uncanny, the brain and the pleasure of ambiguity”;  “João Biscainho - Uncanny River (The Crossing)”,  Sistema Solar and Universidade  Católica Portuguesa, November 2019.


Link to “Uncanny River (The Crossing)”, article by Luísa Santos in Contemporânea (Sep-Aug 2016)

Featured in the following publications:


• João Biscainho, Bernardo Barahona Corrêa, Luísa Santos, and Peter Hanenberg. 2019. João Biscainho - Uncanny River (The Crossing). Edited by Isabel Capeloa Gil, Paulo Campos Pinto, and Cultura@Católica. Lisboa: Sistema Solar (Documenta) & UCP.


•  João Biscainho, Nicolas de Oliveira, and Nicola Oxley. 2017. João Biscainho - Future Nothingness. London: Mulberry Tree Press.


João Biscainho © 2020