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About my ignorance and incorporation of Lygia Clark

Updated: Mar 13, 2022

I lived for 14 years in Europe and it was there that I discovered myself and graduated in the art world. My references are very marked by the European scene. However, recently, now that I have been in Brazil for four years and have been researching artists and movements born here, I notice how there are structural elements in my creation process that come from an artistic-cultural process developed from Brazil many years ago (and I had never been aware of it).

When I moved to Berlin in 2002, one of the first things I did was visit the Akademie der Künste and as soon as I enter the museum, I find myself in a room full of paper tapes to be cut by visitors - the work WALKING (1963) by Lygia Clark. At the time, I had no idea what Neoconcretism was, one of the most remarkable movements in the history of art in Brazil.

Caminhando is a journey-work, something that approaches a performance in which the spectator becomes an artist-creator (although Lygia Clark has always refused to categorize her propositional works as performances - about Lygia Clark and performance art). When walking, a möbius tape (a strip of paper with a spiral fold, constituting a continuous surface) can be cut several times, becoming thinner and thinner. According to Lygia Clark: "In the end, the path is so narrow that it can no longer be cut. The act is what produces the walking. Nothing exists before it and nothing after it." (about walking)

I loved this job so much that I wanted to redo it several times at home. Life continued, I followed my path through performance art and at the end of 2021, 19 years later, I begin to understand how the neo-concrete movement that Lygia Clark, along with other visual artists such as Lygia Pape, Hélio Oiticica, the poet and writer Ferreira Gullar, among others, is somehow incorporated in me and in almost all the Brazilian artists that I like a lot today.

Lygia Clark, from a certain point in her production, started to propose the disappearance or internalization of the art object in the body, a body that was not specifically her own, but the body of each individual who would experience her work.

Image from the work Casal (1969), held at the MOMA in New York in 2014. Photo: Byron Smith for The New York Times.

Since 2017, I have named my works on canvases, drawings, photographies... "remains of myself". Recently, I've been developing a series of works that don't specifically hang on a wall for observation and that a person can walk into:

current image from my creation studio

In 2020, I had a solo exhibition at MUNA (Museu Universitário de Uberlândia), with videos and a performance, called Corpo Ausente (absent body). My last performance, held last September at MAC USP (project CLAREIRA), talks about a present-absent body and was named ABSENT BODY (or at night I cry).

absent body (or at night I cry), CLAREIRA MAC USP, September 2021

I have been working on the disappearance or incorporation of the body into the object. Indicated an absence of the body with a possible permanence of presence; a permanence of the living in that which goes beyond the physical existence of a particular individual. In an immediate look, perhaps exactly the opposite of what Lygia Clark and the other neo-concretists wanted to show: the importance of the sensorial experience as body and presence in the work of art. In a more delicate look, I see the same intention of these artists, carried out in another context of time and history, in my works: the composition of a work that lives, whether in the body or in the object. And other artists that I admire and follow, such as Ana Maria Maiolino, Lenora de Barros among others (but this is already the subject of another post of this blog).

Right now, I'm preparing a class on performance art in Brazil for a foreign audience. I started my researches with the word performance and ended up delving into the concepts of interactivity, relationality, experience, perception that mark the neo-concrete movement that was born in Brazil, more specifically in Rio de Janeiro, in the late 1950s and gained worldwide projection from then. I see performance in Brazil, even with Lygia Clark's well-founded reluctance to be associated with this movement, deeply linked to these concepts. What attributes to the performance art of Brazilian artists (if one can speak of a geographical specificity of a global movement such as performance art) very specific characteristics unconsciously rooted or incorporated over time.

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