Ser, Habitar e Imaginar
With the curatorial advisory of Aluna Curatorial Collective
“To dwell means to leave traces”. That expression by Walter Benjamin, for whom architecture was the oldest of the arts, reasoning that the need to seek refuge precedes all other expressions, is explored in “Ser, Habitar e Imaginar” through the work of a group of emerging Brazilian artists.
What is the relationship with the traces that we leave or observe outside the cities, or in interiors that shape our being in the world? And, at the same time, what is the relationship between that world we inhabit and the act of imagining? Between dwelling and imagining there is a transition from the real worlds to possible ones, explorations of geographical places that mark us, while also also immersions in intimate spaces where, beyond the beautiful or the terrible, we glimpse the fantastic human possibility of reinventing ourselves.
Ana Calzavara photographs interior and exterior spaces – uninhabited or in a state of suspension. Manipulating the color, structure, and chiaroscuro, Calzavara’s images revert to treating architecture with an attention of the gaze that we do not typically afford to the common spaces we inhabit. Marcelo Macedo recovers fragments of discarded objects, such as wood from objects or places, for the geometric series Grande rede that in turn connects with the influence that constructivism had on Brazilian architecture during the 50’s. Liene Bosquê explores architectures through diverse practices, documenting the collective memory as well as intimate traces. The photos in her Heritage series document the ephemeral installation she made with masking tape, ‘drawing’ furniture over the empty spaces of her grandmother’s country home in Garça, shortly after her death. The conceptual gesture, which can be traced back to Joseph Kosuth, acquires an intimate character; it can also be repeated incessantly in other empty spaces, becoming an echo. The bricks of Bosquê’s AME piece were constructed with latex and evoke the oldest African-American church in Syracuse. With this fragile material, that she applied to the current surface of the building to capture residue, it’s as if she is literally taking fingerprints of a significant place of the city’s history. The fragile history acquires a new mode of durability when transplanting it to fine art.
Through the photographs of empty or full pools that Maritza Caneca has documented in various parts of the world ― after contemplating her own memory at the bottom of the abandoned pool of her grandparents’ home ― she has built a kind of water diary that ends up reflecting moments of the history of each place. In turn, Antonio Bokel‘s relationship with the remnants is constructed in compositions where the juxtaposition and the hybridity of fountains end up unifying evocations of urban constructions and nature as graffiti that ‘stain’ the walls. The combination of bare wood, graphic expressionist gestures, and architectural features also remind us of the way in which figures such as Niemeyer and Burle Marx transplanted the forms of nature into their constructions. The urban fabric unfolding in layers of images with enormous freedom of gesture inhabits his artworks and is part of our memories of landscapes contaminated by chaos.
Mano Penalva evokes the grid that, as Lucy Lippard claimed, was the matrix of modernity. But with the iconoclastic humor that characterizes him, he appropiates the racks, commonly used by street vendors to display products, as intervened readymades. Thus, he makes sculptures easy to transport, similar to a version of the Duchampian suitcase that pastes a smile on the enraged dreams of modernity and a gesture of connection with popular esthetics. This is also the source of his travels through the markets and factories in Mexico City to collect images of the sexuality of the statues and spy on the relationship with the intimate. It took more than half a thousand photos of “folds of cloths, tarred market tarpaulins and gestures of the workers” covered in yellow, like the pages of the business telephone directories and of the skin of the city. What he captures as a foreigner in the space of informal commerce is a way of being and living that implies the survival of exchange of objects not regulated by the global market, and other architectures of coexistence.
The photographs and drawings on paper in dialogue that Ivonete Leite and Daniel Taveira have taken on their travels, Liene Bosquê has in her performances, and Michelle Rosset has built on tactile surfaces that incite tactile desire, are gathered in a room exploring the relationship between the surface of the walls, fabrics, human body, history and geography of the land that we inhabit. Leite presents two aerial photographs of the archaeological site of Masada, one of the strongest symbolic places on the resistance of a town and the defense of self-determination. A key place to those of Jewish faith, Taveira portrays the hands of a believer praying at the annual Timkat festival, “an orthodox Christian celebration of the Epiphany, reminiscent of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.” The fabrics that cover it work as a shelter for the sacred.
Mariza Formaggini‘s work is a few selection of photographs taken over a five-year journey. Investigating, as part of a multidisciplinary project, the routes, rituals, and popular uses of the flute in different regions of Brazil became a recurring theme in her documentation. Selected from hundreds of images that reveal a few pieces of living in the indigenous reserve of the Upper Xingu, we see the integration between body and nature, and between Western uses and ancestral rites, revealing in this documentary series -whose virtue is not the perfect moment but just the opposite – the registration of the habitual that gives form to an ontology.
On the second section of the exhibition, the relationship with being unfolds from the conjugation of the verb ‘imaginar’ (imagine) in spaces connected to the memory of childhood – as in the vague, fuzzy memories of Mauricio Mallet‘s childhood. But this is not limited to the superficial image of lost paradise; it holds the depth of human contradictions. It is an ocean in which we sometimes float alone, as in a work by Karla Caprali who is unafraid of capturing the piercing truth in her fantastical works. Affective or political violence also lurk in some of her embroideries, with her subjects being innocent children surrounded by the unrest of the evolving world.
The young characters drawn in ink by Thainan Castro emit an infinite delicacy as they jump rope, push a wheel, and play with the sand on the lines of poems that cannot —nor need to— be read, and whisper a secret out of our reach. Mateu Velasco, too, paints the worlds of children, almost always with enormous clouds of chaos in the place of their heads, where they carry a cornucopia of small objects. Often, figures such as rabbits or fish are incorporated into an iconography revolving around the urgency – or the impossibility – of communicating the cosmos contained in our minds to others. What Velasco, Castro, Caprali and Mallet all have in common is that they suggest the urgency of the imagination to navigate the labyrinth of the world we inhabit.
Adriana Herrera | Aluna Curatorial Collective
Photos: Oriol Tarrida