Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

…and along came a ghost.

Posted in Reviews by luizateixeiradefreitas on October 22, 2009

When arriving in Travessa Dona Catarina one forgets it’s location within the humming chaos of Botafogo – one of Rio de Janeiro’s busiest neighbourhoods. The quiet hill-like street feels like being in a small village, with charming little houses and small three-story buildings. It’s like being back in the 60’s. Ringing on the number 18 and waiting for someone to come and open the big blue door fills me with a mixture of apprehension and nervousness. I’m at Cildo Meireles’ Studio and he has just opened the door with the warm smile of a typical “carioca”. (That’s what you call people from Rio).

My visit had a reason. I was there to discuss with Meireles a project that will take place in Porto in June 2010 and invite him to take part in it. This exhibition is entitled Like Tears in Rain and deals with notions of death, memory and visibility/invisibility of traces. Its scope is to commission artworks that use the artists’ views on these subjects, working upon them together with the notion of the ephemeral nature of existence.

The method I chose to approach him, that of being on a professional studio visit, fails me (as it would fail anyone else). Meireles disarms any type of strict code of conduct one might try to have around him and from the beginning makes you feel comfortable and at ease, just like an old friend.

We come in to an amazing open space, with a 10 metre high ceiling. It’s like a workshop, in the middle there are tables, tools of all kinds, sketches and artworks. To the left side a huge wooden table that can sit more than 12 people is surrounded by summer stray chairs with flower patterned cushions. The table is filled with papers, books, cups, telephones and a whole other array of objects and ‘bric-a-bracs.’

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Frequency and Volume meets Babel

Posted in Reviews by luizateixeiradefreitas on November 18, 2008
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Frequency and Volume; Cildo Meireles, Babel

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Frequency and Volume; Cildo Meireles, Babel

For its eighth Curve Art commission, the Barbican Art Gallery has invited the artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. The artist has taken over the awkward curved space and created the installation Frequency and Volume.

When entering the curve, there is a ninety-metre long interactive installation. Walking through this installation, ones own body becomes the instrument of tuning and volume for each of the 48 radios that Lozano-Hemmer has incorporated into this complex, computerized system of broadcasting. “Without the public, the pieces cannot unfold”, said the artist. Each step gives way to a different frequency – music, news, white noise. At the same time the viewer’s shadow is being projected on the gallery’s wall, working as the volume setter for the radios – the closest to the wall the higher the sound.

Being there twice on different days I had two completely different experiences. One was a quiet introspective walk through the installation, where it was my choice what to hear, where to stop, how to manage the work. On the other hand, experiencing it on a Sunday packed with people, it was like being in a shadow theatre, there was no control whatsoever of people’s movements and the cacophony in the installation was unbearable – in some way it felt as being in Babel.

Not far from the Barbican, just across the Millennium Bridge in Tate Modern’s far West End, is currently the exhibition of Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles. Standing tall in a corner room is the impressive five-metre tower built of radios, Babel. The base is made of very old radios that could probably belong to our great grandfather’s collection, the rest of the tower is completed by a wide variety of all kinds of radios. The artist found them in flea markets around Brazil. The room is lit in a very celestial blue, a tone that doesn’t exist in real life. The radios are all turned on, each one in is tuned in a different frequency and their dials produce innumerous points of light throughout the room. It varies from pop music, to news broadcast, to sometimes only the white noise of an untuned radio. Coming into the room, its title’s analogy is completely obvious. It could be the real thing.

Two different artists, from two different backgrounds, working under two different medias that speak to the public in two very different ways, end up creating, for the viewer, a thin line of concurrence.

Although having a 30-year gap between their making, both the works equally appeal to a sense of liberty and freedom over the political order, something that in many ways has remained immutable. They equally criticize the amount of information that is sent out through the media and the chaos this creates in everyday life.

Meireles builds a symbolic monumental tower that comes as a conduit for so many critiques of society; at the same time, Lozano-Hemmer describes himself as a designer of anti-monuments that are critiques to the fetish of power representation. Be it coincidence or paradox, there is without doubt an encounter between both installations.

frieze – strina – lucas / and why it can still be worth it

Posted in Reviews by luizateixeiradefreitas on October 29, 2008

Installation View, Courtesy Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo

Installation View, Courtesy Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo

As I entered the big white tent in Regents Park, nothing seemed different than before. It was Frieze week in London and the big opening day had arrived.
Collectors – check! Galleries – Check! Curators – Check! Artworks – Check! Everything was in place. Everyone was present.
The 8000 people that strolled around the various booths, drinking their cocktails, gave the impression that everything was just like any of the fair’s past four editions. Effectively, the “credit crunch” seemed far away from this scenery.

In the midst of this social gathering, something rather discreet came to my attention; it was Renata Lucas’ window piece at Galeria Luisa Strina. Going through the booth’s entrance two glass structures in rectangular shape boxes were built into the wall on each side, forming two different sized parts of the same window. Inside of them the artist placed beautiful see through white curtains and a plant. So, when entering the booth, it felt almost as if entering someone’s home – the window becoming an element of the architectural design of the space.
The artist appropriated the booth to play with the notion of creating new environments within the existing ones, as she so often does in her works. Lucas achieves this in very subtle ways, leaving the passer-by to wonder if it was already there, if it is an artwork or maybe just ornament, if you are supposed or not to touch, smell, feel.
What is definitely interesting in this specific work is the way in which she plays with the social and architectural structure of a fair booth, making it something different from what it normally is supposed to be, transforming its regular circumstance of being a commercial white cube with an agglomerate of works, to a new condition, that of a white cube with a glass window garden structure within it.

Coming back to Frieze on the second day, the inevitable happened. Wandering through the fair, the difference to past years was after all undoubtedly noticeable.
In a “normal” year, when entering the space of any of the “hype” galleries of the moment, it would be practically an impossible task to get some, if any, attention from one of the three, four, sometimes even five staff, who would be always busy with ten thousand different requests from upcoming collectors. Now, as in other times, these people were there, but their condition had changed dramatically – chitchatting to each other, waiting for time to pass, as if it were the last Sunday of the venue.

Maybe, in a sense, we’re back to reality and back to art as what it really should be about. One thing is for sure, Luisa Strina’s space, always strategically positioned in the middle of this art jungle called the art fair, seems to, in some way, continuously rescue art from falling into any kind of 21st century cliché.