First and Last, Notes On the Monument
September 20 — December 17 2010
Exposição nos 1º e 2º
The history of the monument is inextricably linked with the history of sculpture. It is also part and parcel with the history of the winner. In their criticism of these relations, the artists have constructed some of the most interesting works in the last 50 years.
This exhibition is not interested in proposals for new monuments per se, but in the critical reading that the artists have been making of sculpture and of the monument. Artist Marta Minujín, who pioneered the work of deconstructing iconic monuments beginning in the 1970s, presented her Obelisco deitado [Reclining Obelisk] at the First Bienal Latino-Americana (São Paulo, 1978) stripping away the verticality and solidity from the monument’s archetypical image. More than 30 years later, the same image reemerged in the work of Tonico Lemos Auad, but here without the materiality of the object and in the transformation of the terrace of a gallery into a grassy field.
Primeira e última, Notas sobre o monumento [First and last, Notes on the monument] marks the transition between the historic space where Galeria Luisa Strina operated for more than three decades and its new installations, now being inaugurated. It thus proposes an homage to the gallery’s past, while also pointing to its future – in this temporal movement that is characteristic of the monument’s construction.
Modern sculpture saw the incorporation of the pedestal as part of the work itself, opening the way for sculpture’s nomadic condition. The base is the world. This principle appears in Erika Verzutti’s infinite column, a mention to Brancusi and made of starfruits. Other artists are interested in using the pedestal itself as a sculptural body to be investigated, as Marcius Galan is doing in his work in progress.
As could not be otherwise, sculpture plays a central part in this exhibition: Gabriel Sierra has created a work that occupies virtually all of the gallery’s new space, proposing a kind of urbanism for it, a path-design within the curatorial project; Alexandre da Cunha has revisited the concrete monument on the basis of appropriation, collage and re-signification of urban fixtures; Pedro Reyes’s sculpture proposes an effort of construction aimed at destruction – circularly – as in the myth of Sisyphus.
In the work by Giuseppe Gabellone, the sculpture appears exclusively for the camera: once it is photographed, it will be destroyed, its materiality remaining only in the image. Matheus Rocha Pitta’s proposal would be inglorious, were it not ironic: remaking the Wall of China, out of paper and in miniature scale. The works by Carlos Garaicoa are small sculptures in paper where the old and the new (not so new) come together and clash. Laura Lima has created an inverted pedestal, a space to be “worn” by the spectator, a gala article of clothing for the inauguration.
Robert Kinmont, a yet little-known historic artist, presents a series of photographs documenting an action carried out in 1967, where the body is overlaid to the landscape in shots of verticality and concentration, a solitary monument. In Tardiology (1968—69), Hitoshi Nomura investigates the decadence of the monument, induced by the passage of time and the elements, in an act that orchestrates sculpture, performance and photography.
Bernardo Ortiz works with drawing on the border between facsimile and the document, bringing together series that allude to a stroll through the city, but also an analysis between real space and abstraction. In the drawing of Matías Duville, we see what is nearly a representation of land art: a negative, entropic space, between construction and the ruin, between the natural landscape and that created by man.
The work by Claudia Andujar, one of the most active photographers over the last 50 years in Brazil, functions within the exhibition as a kind of connecting thread: aerial images of São Paulo that show the city from a certain distance, transforming it into a deceptive reality; images of a deserted (post-apocalyptic? still under construction?) Brasília that we hardly recognize, consisting mainly of land and sky; the photo of a Yanomami funeral rite.
Amadeo Luciano Lorenzato witnessed the 20th century discreetly from his open-air studio in the outskirts of Belo Horizonte. A nearly invisible artist in the history of Brazilian art, he is fundamental for the construction of this exhibition. His paintings portray an imaginary Brasília; a housing complex in the suburbs (for the minimalists, a reinvention of the monument); paired sculptures by Amílcar de Castro and Franz Weissmann; an automobile cemetery. Monuments captured from a distance.
Photography appears recurrently in the exhibition, whether in the documentation of anonymous roadside monuments in the work by Pedro Motta, or to compose narratives of great events in history, as in the image by Mauro Restiffe of Obama’s emblematic inauguration ceremony; or in less great historical developments, such as the semi-abandoned modernist building depicted in the work by Jonathas de Andrade.
The photographic documentation of the work Tiradentes: Totem-monumento ao preso politico [Tiradentes: Totem-monument to the political prisoner] (1970) by Cildo Meireles refers to a crucial moment in art history, where the artist leaves the institution to make a monument consisting of an ephemeral action with a long-term impact: the burning of animals. A brutal criticism of the Brazilian military regime and its practice of arresting and imprisoning those who opposed it.
The video by Deimantas Narkevicius revisits the history of the 20th century, reinstating it as a farce. We see the taking down of a statue of Lenin, in Vilnius, which in the edited video looks like it were being seen for the first time, rather than the last.
There is moreover a discrete homage to Lygia Clark, an artist who brought about an indelible revolution in our notion of space, by the inclusion of one of her Bichos [Animals], transforming the gallery’s office into an exhibition space.
Les statues meurent aussi [Statues also die, 1953] a milestone in the genre of film essays, co-directed by Alain Resnais and Chris Marker, is a manifesto against colonizers’ appropriation of African art, a symbolic death of the statues.
The hypothesis of this exhibition is that the monument is an attempt to forestall the passage of time and forgetfulness and, in the last analysis, our own disappearance – in this sense, the monument would be almost a metaphor of the artwork. There is also something erotic in this desire for permanence after death. But this same desire points to the possibility of an imminent end, either as a transformation or as ruin. For every beginning there is an end.
Alain Resnais & Chris Marker, Alexandre da Cunha, Bernardo Ortíz, Carlos Garaicoa, Cildo Meireles, Claudia Andujar, Deimantas Narkevicius, Erika Verzutti, Gabriel Sierra, Giuseppe Gabellone, Hitoshi Nomura, Jonathas de Andrade, Laura Lima, Lorenzato, Lygia Clark, Marcius Galan, Marta Minujín, Matheus Rocha Pitta, Matías Duville, Mauro Restiffe, Pedro Motta, Pedro Reyes, Robert Kinmont e Tonico Lemos Auad.
Curated by Rodrigo Moura Opening: 19 September 2010, from 12PM to 5PM.
From 20 September to 17 December 2010 Visiting hours: Monday to Friday, from 10AM to 7PM; Saturdays from 10AM to 5PM.
GALERIA LUISA STRINA Rua Oscar Freire 502, Cerqueira César 01426-000 – São Paulo SP, Brasil T 55 11 3088 2471 F 55 11 3064 6391 Rua Padre João Manuel 755, Cerqueira César 01411-001 – São Paulo SP, Brasil firstname.lastname@example.org www.galerialuisastrina.com.br.