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a n d N e w Y o r k , u n l e s s o t h e r w i s e i n d i c a t e d . y , P a r i s n e o t h e r .

u n d

By Lisette Lagnado
por Tatu Text by Lisette Lagnado in: Marepe. So Paulo, Galeria Luisa Strina, 2002 So Paulo, March 17, 2002 Marepe, dear, This letter, my friend, will be an inventory of doubts. Among so many trials to write the text you asked me for your first individual catalogue, I found inadequate words. I have no experience of the landscape neither of the habits of the people of the Recncavo[1] in Bahia; could I nevertheless write about what you do, without falling in the traps of exoticism? The story of each one would be too extensive to fit here, but I must explain the difference that unites us. Works such as yours oblige me to new expeditions. I was born in Leopoldville, before it became Kinshasa, in a family of Arab-Jews. Eating manioc doesnt make me part of the brotherhood that has been constituted in the area of Nazar. You were born Marcos Reis Peixoto. Intolerance was my native language; at home, I heard the Arab from Aleppo and the Lingala from the boy who did the house chores. I studied at the Cours Descartes and was fed with the ideals of Rousseau. You write me that when the Portuguese brought their language in Brazil, they killed others. Since December 1974 I have been expressing myself through some Portuguese, my professional language today. Besides the millennia of Diaspora, I needed understand the meaning of those 500 years added to the 40 of Colnia Juliano Moreira[2], surpass the resistance to slurping a tacac[3] or follow the Jesuit missions, until I conquered the anthropophagic drool and the fundamentals of the Parangol, proper names that were converted into the most generous experiences I have lived. Nonetheless, I remain dislocated from the masses of Father Matheus Vieira de Azevedo. That was in 1758, but it is also today. You tell me of the formation of an urban nucleus, of the organization of a village, with a chapel, a National Guard and schools, even before Santo Antonio de Jesus became a town, in June 30, 1891. What is a town to you? I can only be a companion, as other hypocritical readers, in the crimes that preceded the independence. Which are in fact our conditions to leave the minority status? More than a task, this question is lived as an obligation. There are two possible ways and I think they occur simultaneously, spiritual and institutional, ethical and political. To understand you, I had to mix concept with affection, public use and private use of reason; to pass from the extraction of manganese and firewood to electric light, from the culture of tobacco, coffee and orange, to the planting of imperial palms, and from these to the railway. The transportation of a cutout extracted from a wall, weighing almost three and a half tons, from your town to the So Paulo Biennial, imposes, in a literal way, the measure of validity of your areas development of how a buildingsupply store can modify the landscape, or, extrapolating, how the inland people migrate from one unfortunate condition to another. These would be the arguments from an ideological viewpoint. Yet, formally, it seems to me a meta-pop attitude, to deliver the publicity of a powerful company, Comercial So Luis, making the commerce of commerce. They are beautiful, those huge blue letters over yellow background, but what does it mean to take the content of the logo everything in the same place for the lower price to the mega-art exhibit system? It would be a double naivet to believe in a fixed place and in a smaller price! We are in another linguistic territory when we speak of appropriation and deployment, it is the rotation of Duchamps signs, everything in another place for the highest price. Well, that kind of interpretation does not convince me about you. There is, on your part, an excess of scruples for the social conventions, that translates in the attention not to modify the destiny of the towns inhabitants: after the collective commotion caused by the advertising removal, another one was provided to the same place, as if it were a requirement of the sacred. Is there a morale in that zeal, or is it devoid of purpose? To respect the specifics of the environmental milieu. Not to remove if not to substitute. To the appropriation corresponds a violence, the production of a crater. I fear that your chastity, amidst the cynicism of the mainstream thinking, will not thrive. The chosen motto, the general attitude of the work, reveal a bond between consciousness and concrete endeavor. To celebrate a towns progress demonstrates an attachment to the territory. Its frontiers go from the towns memory to the construction of families, the Comercial So Luis having offered employment for several generations, the only source of income to your father whose absence must be remembered. The declaration of permanence of the place is a basic agreement for those who know the uncertainty of the political, social or economic order. Therefore, your intervention belongs to a constructivist project, it doesnt wish to abandon tradition. However, the other side of the coin must be considered: what is the price of a promise? A promise has a term of validity. All in the same place wouldnt delay the chock of the new? The week before last, Laura took me to the So Cristvo fair, in Rio de Janeiro, and it was another arrival to the land. I keep arriving to the science of concrete to reduce my distance with your vendors booths, shown at the Antarctica Artes exhibition, with Folha, in 1996. The basis for the discussion on transportation of values were already launched, at that time, by means of the informal trade, in the images of street vendors. How do their booths come to work inside an art pavilion of the institutional circuit? Your proceeding was not duly explicated, generating a series of ambiguities. Once again, appropriation would be an inadequate concept; I propose to edify. You photograph the scene, its constitutive elements, assiduously observe the least details, and reinvent the others method, remaking what was made under necessity. You act as a researcher who explores skies to understand the meaning of things, where to buy a certain wood, where to find the missing rudiments. Ultimately, it comes to walking in the footsteps of the street man, to track the path followed by a worker up to raise your own booth, to live a set of gestures, the house, the actions and the body of another. So you compose in the manner of, as Picasso watched Ingres, each of them with his museum. Wood boxes and stools substitute the traditional pedestal of the sculpture; allegorized, art is merchandise like candy, poison or jewels. However, that set of objects, in its utilitarian diversity, once dis-located, is emptied of meaning; it becomes bric-a-brac at the collectors home; or not? You frequently talk about objet trouv, about poor and popular. This Duchamp that your

North represents is, paradoxically, a second-class source. The idea of the readymade is totally disinvested of historicity, remember, it is the quest for the neutral, and its tone may vary between the boutade and the fine irony. The Air de Paris encapsulates an invisible matter, while the air of Santo Antonio is saturated with legends. The curiosity that animates your work brought me the story of children who can identify the species and the sex of trees, observing the appearance, the texture and the smell of its bark; who know how to enumerate fifteen species of bats through its feeding habits; who have at their disposal fifteen different terms to designate the various parts of a corn plant. I go back to the trails of Levi-Strauss salvage thinking, because of that more concrete and livable relation with the things of the world: Mythic thinking is not only a prisoner of events and experiences, which it ordinates and reordinates, untiringly, to discover their meaning; it is also a liberator, through the protest against meaninglessness, to which science was, in principle, resigned to comply with. Concept, Marepe, derives from a need, it is not an intellectuals abstract delirium. They are the units of survival so well defined in the Bundles [Trouxas] a kind of tropical and portable Merzbau. It is affection in raw state. There is, throughout your work, a paying attention to meetings, safeguarding a memory, mainly of the hand-made (to offer coffee or corn pudding). That is the residual wealth of the techniques in extinction, witnessing the link that is being frayed between individual and society, knows and dos in extinction, to wax shoes, to sharpen scissors, pliers, and so on. Certainly, in your case, the bricolage would have a depreciative connotation; however, you always put something of yourself in a project, dont you? Your glance enfolds the origins and evolution of materials, minor forms of subsistence, tricks of the alternative economy. The barter society, a handful of cigarettes for a transportation ticket, has a tributary logic with the condition of pair exchange. Dis-location is the imperative verb for many of your strategies, in indoor works and in street works. The migrant worker, as well as the street vendor, are people who walk. They move, you dislocate them; they have no fixed place, you perambulate. Banned from education and from wealth, they are doomed to search a promise they reinvent each day, transporting their values in a situation characterized by provisional installations. According to you, the trinkets of this illegal trade parallel the works produced by great masters. It is a continuing homage to the ability of improvising, to the creative imagination of the vendors in the streets of Salvador. My question is: how to be a peddler of this sensibility without falling into the exoticism of the cultural tourism that fascinates a certain guilty conscience? I would like this concern to help sort the chaff into a bag where one can accept opportunistic actions that aestheticize regionalism. From adversity we live! also means luxury for all. Artists making exercises of urban perambulation are fashionable. A nostalgia of Situationism? If Oiticica hadnt walked so much by the streets of Rio de Janeiro, we all wouldnt have the conceptualization that derived from Delirium ambulatorium, neither what came before Tropiclia. It is a matter of giving continuity to the crisis of representation. Evidently, the traditional exposition sites are most unfair to receive this kind of instaliation. Two years ago, in the exhibit The 90s (Pao Imperial, Rio de Janeiro), your project The Embedded [Os Embutidos] poetized the makeshift home. It was a construction of wood panels, magenta on the outside, with an internal organization that rnixed daily-life environments (bedroom, kitchen, living-room, bathroom). The user was instructed to interfere on the structure of that architecture of the precarious. My question is: does bringing inside the institution a social-ethical-political circumstance of the beggars shack makes any difference? It does, you told me on the phone. Readymade, to you, is Ncessaire. In the package I got by mail, I read your concern for the social contradictions, subaltern and sub-human situations of the minorities, underdevelopment. You want to refer to the necessary, word that unites the indispensable and the futile. Sweet Palm Tree [Palmeira doce] synthesizes those questions. It could be called an urban-poetic event, an expression by Oiticica. Performed in Santo Antonio de Jesus in September 27, 2001, it has involved the local population. Tonho do algodo earns his life with the business of colored candy. You both made almost four thousand bags. When they were hung along the trunk of one of these Imperial palm trees, they evoked, to me, the new life given to still lifes by Gabriel Orozco. In a few minutes, the work was assaulted and devoured, two actions very much eloquent of the Brazilian cultural every day, urban and suburban. In the photographs, you appear as a giant eating the clouds in the sky, white tufts at the top of the stretched arm. I must finish this letter, which became what I have to offer you, in time to go to print. It lacked to talk about the importance of the filters installation, in the Instituto Ita Cultural exposition, in 1999. It was a project about the re-signification of the everyday, and you came along with the drought and drinkable water, the action of times humidity on clay, their rotund compartments exposed to different colorations, the columns and the bases of Brancusi, the filtered filtered. I owe you a comment on the stove and the marriage; about the acoustic head, also nicknamed Bibifonfa, made of aluminum basins, hinges and rubber. I still owe a lot, so I keep writing. It is Christmas and Biennial in mid March. Beyond the air out of place, the date is also in wrong time concrete reality, abstract time. It snows here. That male cashew tree, put down because of the construction of a new road, is all white, emulating what we dont have. But you guarantee me that are very real the arid horizons of dry branches and cotton that border the inland up to the Recncavo. With my wishes of success, and above all with my thanks for allowing me to pour my Congo River into your Sururu River. Lisette P.S. Since I saw the wall you removed from Santo Antonio, it seems that my gaze now only looks for the city through their blue and yellow hues, the Banco do Brasil branch, the Post Office, the Pernambucanas stores, but the very best was when I found these colors in the moving company, the Lusitana. (Verso para o ingls: Luiz Robe

[1] Deep bay or gulf, a large coastal area in the State of Bahia, south of the capital, Salvador, known for its fertile land.

[2] Colnia Juliano Moreira is the psychiatric hospital where Arthur Bispo do Rosario lived for forty years. The art system has work to undertake the objects he produced there. [3] Soft food made of manioc, with vegetables, shrimps and spices, typical of Northern Brazil.