Komentarai | Kontaktai
Apie | TEXTILE 09 | Menas ir viešumas | Istorija | Spauda | Galerija | Rėmėjai
  • English
  • Lithuanian


For Kaunas Biennial Textile 07, I selected a group of Brazilian artists, artisans and video makers from different geographical, social, cultural and educational backgrounds united under the use of textiles as platforms for their artistic work or as an ultimate refuge for their volcanic needs for self-expression.

I worked out a metaphysical geography where I placed the works selected for Textile 07, works that run along two metaphorical twin hemispheres crossed by an equator line that evokes dialogue among my selection pieces.  The first hemisphere on this globe I am naming Sheer Land, in which textile mediums offer the viewers their brute, autonomous, intense and unique manufactured structures, and the second hemisphere I call Shallow Seas, in which the works float adrift, with no conceptual ground to refer to, yet in mutation, remain highly volatile. An equator line traverses the above hemispheres at which debates entwine artworks from both sides, debates that deal with some artists’ low leverage concern regarding the authorship of their artworks and the slippage of meanings that some other artworks display. But even with two hemispheres and a divisional line, I did honour the inherited freakish, non-reflexive bit of my Brazilian existence, and I made use of pure accidental choices and curious life events when choosing to include works within the selection. I shall return to this geography while briefly describing the works and the authors.

Works and authors

The selection for Textile 07 includes textile works, photographs and videos plus a small historical textile collection.

Four artists represent Brazil’s ‘state-of-the-arts’ since all of them pursue an artistic career and are consensually recognized as art engagé.

Jarbas Lopes might be the most widely known. For Textile 07 he sent me an encrypted plastic work which comments on the excess of domesticity and psychological transferences that has made us turn our pets into product consumers where we end up paying the bills.  “Movidos pela ração” has an etymological twist that mocks the public who have become hostage to a dog’s irreversible consumption of pet food instead of ordinary home meal leftovers.

Felipe Barbosa is a sculptor that works with different types of industrial garbage, serial design objects and product iconography. For Textile 07 Felipe presents two works made out of footballs, an iconic subject matter for Brazilians. Felipe makes use of the pentagonal and hexagonal cells of the balls and domesticates them into astonishingly beautiful 2-D and 3-D pieces, summing up allure in a object that primarily comes already packed in celebratory meanings of celebrity culture together with a diffuse mythic lust among most young people in contemporary Brazil who think of nothing other than being a famous football player. (I might venture this is true in many western countries).

Jorge Luis da Fonseca
describes his aesthetics as tacky and makes use of a baroque iconography in which popular regional history has a central role. I selected one of his erotic pieces for Textile 07 in which he generates, under a donkey’s counselling, phrasing and voice, a step-by-step manual for classical female-male sexual positions worked on a stitched cushion. The cushion is contained within a wood box so that one can hide or reveal the information freely, a sex formula surrounded by a nest of inoffensive flowers made of synthetic stockings.

 Nino Cais will exhibit in Textile 07 a series of remarkable photographs demonstrating his fondness for home tenderness and textile vicinity. Raised on central areas of the state, Nino witnessed his granny and mom continuously crocheting tablecloths, towels, aprons and bedcovers, and those pieces laboriously produced during those afternoon sessions inspired the artist to pose covered by these same intimate pieces he ended up inheriting from his ancestors. In the photographs, Nino places the crocheted family icons on his naked skull and torso and offers himself as table for vases with plants, jar or kettles.

In my metaphysical geography, the four artists above inhabit the Shallow Seas. Their work potentiate a continual slippage of meanings since all their subject matters slip, stand in on behalf of conveyed notions or ideas such as domestic decay for Jarbas, public iconography for Felipe, sexual animal’s metonymy for Jorge and textile refuge for Nino. The images they refer to are signals contaminated by irony, iridescent clichés and distorted perspectives.

For the other hemisphere, I selected four artists for Textile 07, artists that represent the cauldron of circumstances, hazards and prolix encounters in which we boil most reflections, attitudes and decisions we make as Brazilians.

Família Dumont. Raised in this fairly poor central region of Brazil, Família Dumont accumulates strategies as art activists who look at preserving the river from inconsequent pollution and unauthorized environmental diversions linked with sinister profits, side by side with on-going educational programs that they run for large groups of rural citizens on arts and on management. They have developed an exquisite ‘embroidery system’ that congregates the six of them in each and every piece, even across the distance of sometimes thousands of kilometres between their residences. Each piece is passed between family members who freely interfere, deconstruct if needed and … ultimately pass on the parcel. Even if Dumont’s works might look dated under Western connaisance and conceptual parlance or primitive under the weight of Eastern technology, the freshness and bounty of colourful work that Família Dumont produces speak volumes about this sort of non-erudite artisan traditions in which we are embedded under the Equator.

Rômulo Chaves. Rômulo paints on the top of canvas that he buys from truck drivers after it has been used extensively to cover their cargo throughout Brazil. He prepares the canvas without removing the mending or the stains and tops them up with a variety of images, from 18th century d’Alembert Encyclopedia’s mammals to indigenous parrots or popular festivities, images that he receives from his admirer, friend and informal agent, Celso. Rômulo is not interested in producing images although he does the most insightful painting with the rigueur of a guild’s master. In a country like Brazil, where ‘proper’ art education and plenty of artistic work are hostages to sexy objects with aura, Rômulo plays his luck on the faculty of cloning someone else’s image while also adding his own charms. For Textile 07 I have asked him to clone a famous Lithuanian textile artist’s image I had and … he was thrilled and did it. I hope Laima won’t mind, but I had to take the chance in order to debate non-authorship backed up by a Lithuanian original.

Margarida Kanciukaitis Pandolfo and osgemeos are our historical and Oedipal link within Textile 07 Brazilian selection. The twin brothers whose artistic signature is osgemeos are young graffiti artists that are pushing forward their already-happening professional zenith, making innumerable commissioned art works around world. And yet…they have an embroidering mom. Margarida’s work has been in the closet until recently when some curators, while digging through the twins’ background, discovered their mom’s adventurous themes and technique and decided to exhibit the stuff. I phoned the family, Gustavo answered, and while describing my intentions, he said, “ OK, I will pass the phone to my mother, but be prepared for emotional encounters.”  And indeed, Margarida came to the telephone crying and was honoured to show the work, especially because her father was from Kaunas. For Textile 07, mom and twins will present the embroidered piece next to the drawing that served as stencil, with themes around surreal lyric poetry and, as Margarida herself describes, “… a work done in partnership”.  The family will pay homage to their ancestors, and the Kanciukaitis will bring life to their homeland.

Cláudio Kupstas is our Lithuanian Ambassador. I met Cláudio, a young man in his twenties, while researching the existence of any cohesive or proactive Lithuanian community in São Paulo. His name was given to me as the fellow herald of an old Lithuanian weaving technique on small looms producing commemorative sashes. I went to see his work, and his enthusiasm showed forth in the quirky twists his work presented. It did not take me long to decide to include Claudio’s work in the selection when I read that Janis Jefferies was leading an educational program for young art students at Textile 07 around endangered Lithuanian traditional sashes since no young man or woman in the country is occupied in revitalizing this inherited technique. I suspected that the presence of an artist born outside Lithuania but who is preserving a secular textile tradition would open questions to an audience that would expect the exotic in Textile 07 Brazilian selections but would casually bump into a customary Lithuanian piece of textile read as artwork. Cláudio’s work, with its peculiar arrangements and Brazilian contaminations, demonstrates a diligent keenness for excellence and a background compromise that remains respectful towards the sashes’ ingrained motives and celebratory meanings.

This second group of four artists inhabits the Sheer Land in my metaphysical geography. They are makers whose concerns ‘as artists’ trouble notions of authorship while they themselves in their professional and commercial activities are interpreted and predominantly consumed due to the crafty emblem their work largely exhibits. And since art boundaries can also infuse human dilemmas, I decide to include this in the selection for Textile 07.


The historical nucleus 

Even if I imagine that the main intention in a textile Biennale is to present and debate contemporary art work, I would feel sorry not to let the Lithuanian public get in touch with three deceased Brazilian artists whose impressive body of work have influenced enormously the Brazilian art production for the last decades, namely Hélio Oiticica, Leonilson and Arthur Bispo do Rosário. Unable to bring along to Kaunas any of their original art pieces, I made the decision to exhibit four videos about their work. For reasons of economy I will not be able to make you literate on the three artists’ production, but since their artwork has travelled internationally and substantial published material on the works has been generated and circulated for a while now, I do recommend you allow your inquisitive side to lead you to learn more about the three artists.

Since the artworks won’t be physically at Textile 07, let’s praise the videos that will indeed be there and especially the video-makers who used their acute perception to inform us about this unique group of artists.

Kátia Maciel is a multimedia artist who has a strong familiarity with Hélio Oiticica’s body of work. Her film will lead the audience through different series of Oiticica’s works, a film that was originally an interactive CD-Rom intended to leave open choices for the viewer’s while, and pretty much in an Oiticica’s style, intentionally or accidentally moving from one menu to another, essentially re-operating the artwork.

Hugo Denizart. With a sombre video, Hugo provides us with the sole registered visual material that bring us Arthur Bispo do Rosário in the flesh. One can also have a look at Bispo’s still immaculate large room where his entire body of work was produced, a room that was plundered by the culture intelligentsia after his death, by art managers that did not respect the artist’s determination to be buried together with the pieces he solely produced. The accurate critique on which Hugo constructs the plot merits much appraisal since most artists dealing with the same subject would be inclined to operate on a more hygienic and conclusive level.

Based on quite a different fleur and artistic ambition Helena Martinho da Rocha and Miguel Przewodowski’s video is a mishmash between real events, visual documentary and historical chronicle all merged in a fictional screenplay about Arthur Bispo do Rosário.  When Helena and Miguel highlight a standing relationship that Bispo had with an assistant psychiatrist doing research at Colônia Juliano Moreira, the asylum where Bispo was an inmate, the authors play with the artist’s love fantasies in a pantomime style including a number of eerie locations plus intimate encounters with elusive endings.

To conclude the group of video makers at Textile 07 comes Karen Harley’s video on Leonilson, a work that namely intends to habilitate the viewer to be intimate with the artist’s deepest emotional panoramas. Based on Leonilson’s taped diaries, Karen has created an insightful kaleidoscope that loyally portrays the intense confrontations that the artist had with other people’s misinterpretations and his own unsuccessful longings. Karen’s specialty, editing, is effective, subtle and endearing. Throughout the film, you will have the chance to peep at Leonilson’s textile works. They were a synthesis for him in the latter period of his short life; embroidered veils and gauzes with monosyllabic inscriptions were a vehicle for his poetics around love and death.

Last comes the crowning of the historical nucleus. Gerardo Vilaseca, an architect, set designer, collector and gentleman of the arts lent his private collection of dolls and toys that were made by two female inmates in Colônia Juliano Moreira so that I can add to the videos’ exhibition space a breath of Bispo’s environment and commitment.  Gerardo witnessed Bispo’s room still intact, and he has collaborated extensively during the numerous shows on Bispo’s installations. His affinity with artists in mental asylums and art brut has increased since. This little collection of his honours the sensibility yet the famine for expression and for content that mental asylum inmates possess. The dolls and the toys express candour and awkwardness while being made with blunt, ordinary and cheap materials. Their straightforwardness competes with a diffuse public practice of slyness and deceit that masquerade the subject and the body of society in our time.

 Come to Kaunas and enjoy the show.