Obscura Luz [Obscure Light]: group show curated by Kiki Mazzucchelli


Maybe everything in the world is perishable. Maybe the universe is perishable. Maybe everything is durations. And God, merely the longest of all. I don’t know.
What I do know is that the perishable differs a lot from the disposable. The perishable is a metaphysical condition which is surmountable through the acceptance of the hypothesis that the universe is finite. Disposability, on the other hand, is an economic-consumerist practice based on the illusion of infinitude.
I believe this is indeed a question that deserves the reflection of every artist because it concerns the nature, the spirit, and the appearance of their product.
Perishability is knowing we are going to die. Disposability is to commit suicide because of that.
Not to be or not to be, this is the question.


Cildo Meireles, about the work Obscura Luz


Obscura Luz (Obscure Light, 1982) consists of a white box installed on the wall with a side flap onto which the shadow of a light bulb is projected. In this singular work, Cildo Meireles creates a paradoxal situation, inverting the logic of perception by presenting a light source which is simultaneously shadow. The homonymous exhibition on view at Galeria Luisa Strina from 16 July takes this work by Meireles as a starting point to bring together a group of works by artists from different generations that deal with physical and symbolic aspects of light and shadow.


As essential phenomena in human perception and experience, light and shadow are present in art in its different manifestations throughout many centuries. In the Western imaginary, light is traditionally associated both to reason – the myth of Prometheus, who handed fire to humanity against the will of Gods, or the Enlightenment (The Age of Reason) – and to the Divine – particularly in the pictorial symbolism according to which gods and saints are invariably represented as beings who emanate light. According to the same imaginary, shadow, on the other hand, represents the opposite of light: the unknown, the irrational, and ultimately death.


Although the dichotomic aspect of the symbolism of light and shadow is strongly ingrained in the Western mind, the work Obscura Luz is taken in the present exhibition as an opportunity to think about new possibilities of interpreting these phenomena. The show looks at a present in which belief in a certain version of what constitutes the Western ideals of reason and progress has led to the recent emergence of far-right ideologies in many countries across the world and to an environmental crisis on the verge of irreversibility, thus exposing the limitations of the definition of ‘universal subject’ whose rights are guaranteed by law.


The exhibition Obscura Luz borrows the idea of ‘perishability’ as presented by Meireles to bring together works which do not submit to any overarching theme. On the contrary, each of the works included in the show is part of complex and individual artistic universes, resulting from extremely distinct practices which converge here as possible answers to the question: Not to be or not to be?



Works by Alexandre da Cunha, Anna Maria Maiolino, Bruno Baptistelli, Carole Gibbons, Camila Sposati, Carolina Cordeiro, Cildo Meireles, Cinthia Marcelle e Thiago Mata Machado, Clarissa Tossin, enorê, Fernanda Gomes, Flávia Vieira, Frederico Filippi, Gerty Saruê, Gilson Plano, Guilherme Ginane, Janina McQuoid, Jarbas Lopes, Ingeborg de Beausacq, Laura Lima, Leonilson, Lia D Castro, Lucas Arruda, Luis Paulo Baravelli, Luisa Lambri, Lygia Pape, Magdalena Jitrik, Marcius Galan, Marepe, Pablo Accinelli, Pedro Reyes, Sarah Lucas, Tonico Lemos Auad, Tracey Moffatt and Tunga.