SÃO PAULO | ZÜRICH

 
SÃO PAULO | ZÜRICH

Counterbody, by Ana Maria Belluzzo | 2019

Counterbody, by Ana Maria Belluzzo | 2019
Zwei Arts

Criticism
Marcia Pastore

The machines of the world of Marcia Pastore, by Fernanda Pitta | 2019

The machines of the world of Marcia Pastore, by Fernanda Pitta | 2019

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Counterbody, by Ana Maria Belluzzo | 2019

Counterbody, by Ana Maria Belluzzo | 2019

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Trap, by Ricardo Resende | 2020

Trap, by Ricardo Resende | 2020

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Corpo de prova, de Ana Belluzzo | 2017

Corpo de prova, de Ana Belluzzo | 2017

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Tira-linhas em três momentos (com interseções significativas), de Ana Cândida de Avelar | 2015

Tira-linhas em três momentos (com interseções significativas), de Ana Cândida de Avelar | 2015

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Peso – contrapeso, de Nelson Brissac | 2012

Peso – contrapeso, de Nelson Brissac | 2012

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Modelo, molde, rastro, resto. De Fernanda Mendonça Pitta | 2012

Modelo, molde, rastro, resto. De Fernanda Mendonça Pitta | 2012

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Por quem os sinos dobram, de Alberto Tassinari | 2010

Por quem os sinos dobram, de Alberto Tassinari | 2010

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Texto de Tania Rivitti | 2007

Texto de Tania Rivitti | 2007

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Texto de Afonso Luz | 2002

Texto de Afonso Luz | 2002

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Texto de Tadeu Chiarelli | 2000

Texto de Tadeu Chiarelli | 2000

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Feo, fuerte y formal, de Rodrigo Naves | 1993

Feo, fuerte y formal, de Rodrigo Naves | 1993

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Pensar contra si, de Sônia Salzstein – 1990

Pensar contra si, de Sônia Salzstein – 1990

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Text originally written for the catalog “Marcia Pastore: Contracorpo”, whose exhibition of the same name was presented at Estação Pinacoteca from November 23, 2019 to June 1, 2020.

Marcia Pastore: Counterbody

Ana Maria Belluzzo
curator

INTRODUCTION

Between November 2019 and April 2020, the Pinacoteca de São Paulo will present a selection of works by Marcia Pastore, a São-Paulo-born artist who has been active since the late 1980s in the wide horizons which post-Arte Povera and post-minimalist practices have opened up to sculptors.

The exhibition brings together recent works, some of which were specially designed for the show, and other works produced over a long experimental career of more than 30 years, in which Pastore has manipulated all kinds of materials and explored procedures normally employed for building things that inhabit our everyday spaces.

Her works are born in the intersection between art and architecture, which according to a certain artistic understanding is the primal setting for the shaping of space. Marcia’s work contrasts with constructive rationality and bears witness to a journey in the opposite direction to those artists who give up on building models and work from ready-made components in their production.

One can say that her work perspective is that of someone who shifts between time periods. Roots around the traditions of sculptural practice. Reconceptualizes manufacturing techniques. Performs body-molding acts. Bridges the gap between handcraft and architecture, being strongly attracted to the vocabulary of civil engineering.

The ensemble of works that constitute the exhibition emphasizes the poetic interplay between forces, body and space. The works were set up at Estação Pinacoteca taking into account the fact that artistic experience is an ever-present moment and should not necessarily be shown in chronological order.

The spectator is invited to get close to the artworks, most of which are untitled, and to perceive the ‘bodily contact’ that translates, in the last analysis, the struggle of art in today’s world. He or she can feel the tension manifested in the artist’s practices in direct contact with the world, and can also notice the sensitive handling of coarse materials, products and mechanisms found therein.

In the core of Marcia Pastore’s work there is an existential relationship with the real world, the dimensions of which have been set by our habits and practices and which has been materialized in the built environment. Directing her attention at aspects of common life, she pictures and surmises what is implied in things which are already formed, positioned and laid out. She is always inclined to incorporating ordinary procedures and transgressing limits and working rules. Spectators are led to notice the way Marcia touches and reverses the spatiality of the built environment in her desire to reach deeper frameworks (skeletons) and to desecrate mechanisms.

TANGIBLE THINGS AND THE POETRY OF MATERIALS 

Marcia Pastore’s artistic imagination sprung up in the world of tangible things (things that can be touched) in the late 1980s and early 90s and unfolded into spatial devices from 2000.

The things Marcia Pastore puts in existence are born from the logic of materials considered in their physical properties. In the beginning of her career, the choice of a few (two or more) components generates a clear syntax capable of condensing the nature and potency of the materials brought into inter-action. They are physically joined and, at the same time, visually separated. Such a process is chiefly grounded in the tactile, non-optical qualities of materials, which in the end are made available for the spectator to experience.

The encounter between the material components from which the object arises, with no previous outline, is mere contact and nothing more. The artist watches over the process so that nothing in this convergence goes against the pliability of the materials that get integrated on the basis of their own strengths, so that their plastic nature is brought under the spotlight. She proposes living, organic connections and shuns artificial attaching devices. Her procedures lead to a poetry that is born from inside her pieces: poems produced by sensitive organisms in a serene encounter, in tense confluences or even in a convergence of conflicting forces.

The subjectivity poured into the objects’ interior shows that Marcia, following arte povera in this respect, aims for a ‘subjective understanding of matter and space.’ Marcia belongs to a whole generation that was affected by arte povera1.

“[the artists] were concerned with that point at which art and life, nature and culture, intersect. They attempted to create a subjective understanding of matter and space allowing for an experience of the ‘primary’ energy present in all aspects of life directly and not mediated through representation, ideology or codified languages. This energy was intended, on the one hand, to correspond to the basic physical forces of nature [such as gravity or electricity] and, on the other hand, to refer to the fundamental elements of human nature [such as vitality, memory and emotion]’2.

In Marcia’s work, handling the body of the artwork in profound interdependence with the environment in which it is set gives excitement to each piece’s moment of balance and support in space. It enhances the feeling of gravity of bodies that are lightly supported on the ground or propped up by the walls; these works are inseparable from the world they inhabit.

Marcia avoids individuating works by giving each one its own support framework – she prevents them from becoming self- supporting. They are led to make up a place which, ironically, is established by Marcia under a ‘possible’, ‘precarious’, ‘provisional’ equilibrium. Thus, another aspect of Arte Povera shows up. In commenting the works of artists connected to the movement, art critic Germano Celant says:

‘Precariousness is what calls itself to attention here. His objects live within the moment in which they are composed and assembled and have no existence as immutable objects. To re-exist, they have to be re-composed, which means that their existence depends upon our interventions and behavior. Rather than autonomous products, they are unstable, and alive in relationship with our own lives’3.

After all, what is the limit for sustaining the status quo of things? How to dispose different parts so that they endure without dismantling, without exploding, if one does not avail oneself of an incidental support or a potential ‘fastening’?

RAW MATERIAL: READY-MADE OBJECTS DISMANTLING AND
REASSEMBLING IN THE ARTS 

Marcia is guided neither by a constructive external order to be confirmed nor by a meaning to be conveyed; instead, she asks questions about the materials’ inherent attributes and about the forces that take part in materializing a body. Significantly, she never starts from a drawing, since she does not intend to give form to an idea. She pursues materials directly and circulates in a world where everything speaks, going beyond their assumed representational and hierarchical order. She crosses over the materiality of a world that has been excessively ‘thingified’ and reinvents ways of shaping that open up to the spectator’s space, extrapolating academic postulates and fleeing the sphere of the object.

One must ask right now what Marcia’s generation sees as materials fit for artistic development. She stands among São Paulo’s artists, people who are enmeshed in an urban routine, increasingly removed from natural relationships and coming ever closer to a second nature. These are people who live in an industrialized world, surrounded by ready-made, pre-configured objects.

Artist Guto Lacaz’s thoughts about the choice of materials by contemporary artists and the use of industrial objects as raw materials was etched into Marcia Pastore’s memory. In ‘Geladeira ou Mármore’ [Refrigerator or Marble], a text published in the book A Metrópole e a Arte (The City and Art) in the 1990s, Lacaz remarked:

‘For some contemporary artists, a refrigerator can be as fascinating as a block of marble with the same dimensions was for an artist such as Michelangelo. Since the beginning of the [20th] century, industrialized objects have served as raw materials for many artists’4.

He also noticed that the several uses given to different materials had been filtered by dadaist, surrealist and pop-art artists.5 He suggested that, in choosing or in being attracted by a certain material, ‘the artist should discover and unveil plastic mysteries which lie hidden under its apparent familiarity.’ Lacaz is deeply acquainted with ‘the parallel world created by contemporary plastic artists.’

One of Marcia’s starting points is found in what already exists in the world of objects that have not been shaped and determined by the artist’s subjectivity – be it an industrial-gauge iron plate, an L-section aluminum profile for window frames or an industry-standard steel cable. These are no longer raw materials which must be shaped. Marcia’s starting point is the form already given to an industrial component, available in a standard size to be used in the construction industry. Bars, metal plates, rubber parts and plaster can easily be found in hardware stores at Florêncio de Abreu Street, in the center of São Paulo.

These materials have already been tamed by technique and dimensioned according to their use in construction; in that way, it is certain that they still bear a remote correspondence with human dimensions established in the work sphere. This universe, which Marcia’s plastic thinking assimilates, provides lines as strong as steel and surfaces with the qualities of metal, and it also triggers sensations similar to those caused by pulverized white plaster.

These are neither crude-state raw materials nor strange entities. Prefabricated components, easily found for sale in the big city, are selected according to their format, their functional qualities and their physical characteristics. Objects that feed several kinds of construction sites are removed by the artist from their usual assembly lines, diverted from their settings and brought into artistic manufacture, in which they operate as active components of esthetical works. They retain traces or, rather, recognizable relations to the world of life.

The artist’s attention, attuned to the world that surrounds contemporary man, and the particular sensitivity she brings to bear on ‘listening’ to prosaic things have a decisive reach by means of which she distinguishes different formats and imagines new works that destabilize the constructed environment. Processed and standardized industrial components can be found in gauges and formats stipulated on the basis of their utility in the construction industry. In our society, they have an expiry date and can also be found in post-use conditions, i.e. in demolition sites and scrap yards.

The starting point for Marcia’s projects are components that are removed from their series and then transfigured and reintroduced in a new world line, retaining the signs of their existence in time. She operates with informed materials, quasi-signs, and, adding to their indetermination, she introduces them in a new cycle. In the last analysis, she uses them by dematerializing and also remodeling their bodies. And, in general, her works oscillate between familiarity and strangeness.

Among the components she adopts, she gives expressive use to shapeless materials, such as plaster powder – which has been present in her work since long ago. She dismisses pliable materials and prefers those that can be cast, such as paraffin or rosin. She makes full and proper use of the flexibility of cloth, the elasticity of a strip of rubber, the corrugated texture of a metal plate.

Each material offers unique features for the artist’s perception and interpretation. Different materials, subject to different morphological rules, ensure the widening of the formations that deserve artistic attribution. Marcia gives transparency to gestures, materials and procedures that constitute the basic vocabulary of the works that have now been installed in the museum space.

She chooses materials that can be handled with utmost simplicity and pays attention to their properties:
how do they spread? How can they be contained? How do they resist? What are they suitable for? Materials that are predisposed to the primal actions of gathering, setting side by side, stacking. She focuses on the relationship between the parts which she puts in contact: the way they are secured to one another, the way they slip from one another. She probes the limits of balance of the composite unit with no need to secure it, as Richard Serra6 has taught in his house of cards.7 On the other hand, she is not ashamed to use ostentatious fastenings, drawing upon arrangements that could even be seen as quasi-formats, originating from customs and ways that are present in the everyday urban universe.

Her aim is to make visible an experience of reality that belongs to the artistic domain: the interplay of forces in their relationship with forms. She plays with the balance of the parts which she employs with a certain humor. She explores devices by means of which forms show themselves to be inseparable from the surrounding space.

Ever since the end of the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, the setup of Marcia’s works has originated from the nature of the chosen components and often from a dialogue or confrontation between very few elements: she creates pieces from simple materials and minimal elements. She is mostly interested in giving life to their forces, irrespective of whether these bring the elements together or keep them apart. She prefers precise processes and sincere procedures.

The encounter between two materials in space exposes movements which are inherent to the materials’ potentialities, in a living syntax. In those works which come down to a dialogue between two materials, nothing overrides the liveliness of this encounter in which one material structures the other. Marcia distinguishes between active and passive materials and between those that accept each other and those that repel each other.

The sealed agreement between the U-section steel pro le and the plaster, in an untitled work dating from 1990, shows materials that get their shape in being mobilized as structuring forces that become inseparable: the metal filled in by the plaster, the plaster contained by the metal.

The action of one material on another can also be seen in the shifting contours of iron tetragons subject to the cooling activity of paraffin in a 1990 work, as well as in the change of shape of stacked tetragons due to the presence of an asphalt mix, from the same year.

The balance produced by the living connection between tensioned materials can always affect the achieved unity. When taken to its limit, the opposition between components’ forces can activate the parts’ potential for spatial explosion, and Marcia accepts the risk of disruption. This is what is seen in a 1990 work made from rigid parallel iron bars held together by a taut strip of rubber, establishing a provisional unity that leans precariously against the wall. It is always interesting to observe the concise language of Marcia’s spatial handwriting, which is also adopted in the ways she finishes and secures the pieces found in the materials themselves.

Another disruptive work dates back to the same year. In it, the precarious stability of three iron bars is achieved by twisting a kind of elastic tourniquet that ties two of the bars as firmly as possible; the tourniquet is twisted by the introduction of a third bar. ‘The by means of the tension established between the materials […] The procedure can be best understood as a part of the dynamic process of physical energy, which accumulates and retains energy by means of the tension established between materials,’ says the artist.

In the vertical space between floor and ceiling, another device is articulated in a tense clef. It is formed by two linear tetragons of iron and rubber, orthogonally placed one above the other and supported by the stretching force that acts on the invisible axis that runs from floor to ceiling at the exhibition room. The rubber is stretched and generates tension between both squares.

The physical encounter between two components establishes a sculptural syntax in which one material exists in relation to another. This is what happens when plaster is contained by metal and, conversely, metal is filled in by plaster. The materials acquire their shape when they are mobilized as structuring forces and associate with one another, becoming inseparable. The notion of structure does not apply here; rather, what is applicable is the notion of an organic whole, composed of parts that take on different coordinated functions. Besides the relationship between components, Marcia’s works also complete each other in each place of exhibition and, when they take shape in a certain location, their existence is incorporated into the environmental syntax – whether leaning on a wall or scattered on the ground.

One notices that most of her proposals offend the human verticality which founded the Western statue. This does not mean that one despises stature. On the contrary: the artist’s own height serves as a template for the dimensions of the components she works with. It has been said that the body itself, and not only the sense of sight, is central piece accumulates and retains energy for our experience of space. By means of experimentations carried out on the basis of her own body, Marcia Pastore defies the conventional ‘ways of making’ and gives a new orientation to her work. The body’s movement is a key vector in the discovery of forms. Experimentation, understood as a means of exchange, explores connections between the artist and her work that go beyond her operational agency and become conveyors of a symbolic content. This implies facing an unknown potential accumulated by man in a long journey. In other words, Marcia injects human uncertainties in her handling of matter, gropes what is unknown to her and discovers things in the process of doing.

This is the next question we will focus on.

 

  1. ‘Arte povera’ (poor art) is a term coined by Italian art critic Germano Celant in 1967. It embraces the work of artists such as Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Giuseppe Penone, Jannis Kounellis, Luciano Fabro, Mario and Marisa Merz, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Gilberto Zorio, among others. Their works are intended to resist commodi cation; they prioritize the physical presence of materials and the relationship established with the public.
  2. Christov- Bakargiev, Carolyn. Arte Povera. London: Phaidon, 1999, p.19.
    3. Celant, Germano, ‘Notes for a Guerrilla War,’ Flash Art International n. 5, 1967.
  3. LACAZ, Guto. ‘Geladeira ou Mármore,’ in A Métropole e a Arte. Editora Banco Sudameris, 1992.
  4. I don’t know how ‘the chance meeting, in a dissection table, of a sewing machine and an umbrella’ – the inaugural proclamation of the surrealist movement – could seem less unusual today. In the same way, we are used in a great degree to the generalized presence of Duchamp’s ready-mades, which does not mean they have been understood with the depth that is their due. In one way or another, Marcia’s work, as well as that of her generational peers, arises from the possibilities opened up by the surrealist assemblage and by the use of industrialized materials in artistic production. Marcia Pastore’s research is also tied to what has been conventionally called post-minimalism, a term that brings together experiences that start off from
  5. minimalist assumptions but also call into question the strictness of geometrical and impersonal forms, moving on to more open forms. Besides Serra’s, Marcia’s work can be compared with those of Eva Hesse and Bruce Nauman, for instance. In Brazil, post-minimalism can be associated with the researches of artists such as Carlos Fajardo, José Resende and Carmela Gross, among others.
  6. See Richard Serra’s One Ton Prop (House of Cards), 1969. The work is made from four steel plates – each one measuring 122 × 122 cm – leaning on one another in such a way that their own balance keeps them upright.

 

BODY IN WORK 

The degree zero for Marcia Pastore’s work can be found in the world’s horizontality, in particles of plaster powder strewn on the ground, looking over an empty expanse that has been conventionally called space. Space is understood as defined by Martin Heidegger1.

‘a uniform expanse in which no place has any differentiating characteristics, all directions are equivalent and which, however, is not perceptible by the senses’

Space is a world in waiting mode, looking forward to human intervention.

For Marcia, what does it mean to ‘get to work’? To embody a form from oneself? Her self- figuration experiments, in which body parts are imprinted onto the material, give rise to a psychological topology that has very little to do with its placement in the physical world. At that very place, she addresses unsuspected corners of the self, its inner premises, of which so little is known and which are prone to creating envelopes and raising ghosts up in the air. It has been said:

‘Humans are beings that participate in spaces unknown to physics: the formulation of this axiom enabled
the development of a modern psychological typology that scattered humans without regard for their first self-localizations among radically different places, conscious and unconscious, day-like and nightly, honorable and scandalous, places that belong to the ego and places where inner others have set up camp’2.

 

BODILY EXPERIENCE AND SPATIAL IMAGINATION 

The body in movement conducts the spatial experience that Marcia puts in place, in a transitive relationship with qualities of the material world which encompasses the subject materialized in the work. Spatial imagination and ingenuity leaven the process of artistic creation.

The performative tone of the events triggered by her living body is disclosed from the very beginning. With her body, Marcia calls into action the physical strength needed to give body to abstract entities and to set up open spatial devices in a three- dimensional field, devices which should no longer be called ‘sculptures.’

Marcia probes uncertainties in the contemporary world and gives herself over entirely to the work’s experimental achievement. With no anticipatory ideas, her body itself does the drawing. Her movement is a dance and an instrument for measuring out space. She discovers the work in the process of making it.
In the course of her experimental work, she has managed to develop an open language of expressive and symbolic content that stands between the body and the chosen material’s properties. By means of such a language, some works are born through immediate contact, while others develop by spatial extension.

Marcia has no use for pencil and paper. Her own body does the drawing through the curved surface of her hips, the volume of her leg. Gestures constitute the works’ motivation and driving force; they imprint the flexible material directly and then exit the stage, leaving their traces behind. In Marcia’s performative practices, the material also envelops her body as a skin, in an action that comes close to dressing and undressing. The immediate gesture that bears on the material remains an ordinary procedure, familiar to those unequipped menial workers that produced roof tiles by molding them on their thigs. In the course of time, shaping and molding became subordinate to reproductive techniques and were identified with the traditional casting molds that have been so prominent in the history of sculptural production. The artist moves around the great arch of material production.

Besides being immediate records, Marcia’s procedures show that gestures are also excuses for indeterminate, indecisive, fluctuating forms, that seek stability in other supports and trigger resonances throughout space.

Before asking ourselves about the aspects that Marcia’s work puts in action and makes available for the spectator, it is appropriate to note the reappearance of the human reference in connection with the work – a motive that has been relatively absent from the contemporary art debate, although it has been present in the universe of architecture. We should also be reminded that the human dimension comes under a subjective heading from the 1960s onwards, acquiring a projective character among women in the context of struggles related to the consciousness and assertion of female identity.

The question goes well beyond the limits of this text. Nevertheless, it should be highlighted that human references in contemporary artistic manifestations shun idealization and are put forward by means of the body. Self-reference by contemporary artists is a rich domain which should be addressed with care and to which Marcia’s approach contributes. In the context of a study of Marcia’s work, we can say that the presence of the body is an imperative and emerges in association with ‘place creation’, a phrase that should be understood here as a primal human dimension. I would risk saying that Marcia wishes to bring
into one space different subjectivities, indicated both by appropriate objects and by the materiality of the institutions which she interferes with3. In short: even if the free construction of individuality be seen as an imperative, in current mass society the individual is no longer thought of as an ‘undivided’ being. The changeable being in today’s world actualizes an interplay of mirrors in building up its subjectivity. This is revealed by selfies, for instance, in which a person represents him or herself in a chosen scenery so as to be recognized by a bodyless social network.

The treatment Marcia gives to the human body comes from herself and gives an open, multifarious meaning to female body parts. She puts bodily experience under the spotlight as a means of direct unmediated action, an instrument of work and transgression. In other words: she subjects her body to her task, accepts the social handling of the female body, devastates intimacy and surprises the observer by the emergence of unexpected bodily positions. All these practices, in short, are part of the construction of the feminine.

This quest for the body is an answer to many motivations in today’s world, in which humanity is often led to withdraw into the nearest domain – either by functioning with minimal resources or by meeting the challenges of an environment increasingly mediated by technology, in which the body becomes the subject’s stronghold. And many contemporary artists are fully conscious of this.

The body, which had always been taken for granted, has become in our era an important vehicle of expression by means of which artists break conventions, shatter artistic categories and point to new directions. As the subject’s nearest resource, it acquires new potentials from the 1960s on. Before the body was adopted as a performance medium in the 1970s, the living happening had already affected art in a strong way in the previous decade; it suffices to call to mind the events carried out by Yves Klein and the povero artists. An order of proximity, simultaneously old and new, is asserted by the artists in the moment in which they are willing to establish direct contact through the body.

 

SIGNS, GESTURES, MOVEMENTS 

The practices adopted by Marcia in which she uses her body directly as an instrument constitute an organic strategy in the domain of the arts. As opposed to language, bodywork delves deeper into psychical life and encompasses unconscious fantasies that predate language itself.

In a text in which she analyses the work of artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Rachel Whiteread and Roma Pondick, Mignon Nixon adopts the model of subjectivity proposed by psychanalyst Melanie Klein, according to which

‘psychic life is structured by unconscious fantasies driven by bodily experiences, and these fantasies, present from early infancy, persist not as states into which the subject may regress, but as ever-present positions.’

Further on, Nixon states:

‘Constructing her model of subjectivity around the infant, and so in relation to an immediate and fragmented bodily experience unmediated by language, Klein places at the center of her model not the unconscious, but fantasy – fantasy understood not as a work of the unconscious mind, but as a bodily operation. The Kleinian subject relates to its environment as a field of objects to be fused or split, possessed or destroyed, by means of fantasies of introjection, projection, and splitting that are produced by bodily drives’4.

Marcia mobilizes feelings and affections on the basis of ordinary experiences. Gestures imprinted on matter and signs of humanity left in the world will not let us forget that imprinting resources have served as form-engendering methods since pre-history. Gestures obtained by direct contact between the body and materials echo ancestral artistic techniques that have defined the very meaning of engraving and molding. Bodily experience bears on Marcia’s work in different ways. The body provides many things, from likeness through contact to imagined forms in the extension of gestures5.

Contact experiences make expressive use of the pressure exerted by the body on a material and take on the dimensions of the body itself and the relations between its different parts. Marcia makes contact with herself by means of the body parts she has within her reach, as can be seen in the results obtained. On the other hand, nothing prevents her from leaving aside the soliloquy and widening the scope of her works by relying on another participant in the form-making process6.

Marcia privileges direct contact procedures motivated by ordinary actions and gestures and incorporating potential accidents. She preserves hints that act as indicators, either on the pieces themselves or, alternatively, placing them out on the exhibition space according to apportionments defined by the human body, as she has done in Pinacoteca.

The body invites us to imagine derived forms that distance themselves from the mimetic and draw closer to the abstract. Sometimes, those forms carry tokens of their origins, imprinted on them by the efforts exerted on their making. The light plaster pieces that embrace space, hanging from the ceiling of Monteiro Lobato Library, have the spine as their signature.

A wide repertoire constituted by exploring the living body’s movements condenses impulses and gestures and leaves traces behind. The potential of a small gesture made with a limb or body part shapes an articulated structure. Springing from the moving body’s conjunctions, Marcia’s handwriting is consistent with the use of movement and muscular force to leave imprints on the material – footprints, signs that someone has passed by, traces on some kind of medium.

Impulses and gestures made by an elbow or a knee, an embrace thrown in space before the body – things such as these have more to say about the affective and aggressive content imprinted by driving forces and communicated to the spectator. The body as an active instrument does not do away with memory and the semantic charge of signifiers, signs and driving feelings experienced by the artist and the public, irrespective of the ability to access them.

 

IMAGINING SPACE IN A FREE LANGUAGE: LIFTING, TWISTING, MOUNTING HANGING, TYING 

In 1995–6, Marcia begins to lift her sculptures above the ground. She deviates from the regular ordering that showed up in her earlier work, and her previously geometrized forms gain an expressive and organic content. This occurs when she begins experimenting with her body to make molds.

In the actions of contemporary sculptors who spread plastic forms in space, neither volume nor mass
have primacy. Marcia manipulates surfaces in space so as to get curved shapes, making molds from reinforced canvases filled in with plaster or cement, which appear painted in white.

Marcia uses her own body to counter the evenness of a at medium. She tries to change it into a curved surface and to condition it to lift itself off the ground, considering how to prop it up. In a certain aspect, some of those works remind us of the planes lifted up in space by Brazilian neo-concrete avant-garde artists, but in a brutalist version. In Marcia’s constructions, the body supports the development of an open form. By trial and error, it determines the position to be taken and kept by the pliable canvas, see as to set the piece up as a place from which the artist can withdraw herself.

Marcia concerns herself with preparing molds: she pierces at canvases with iron rods to make them more resistant and capable of withstanding deflections when subject to the body’s forces. In this sense, it is the body that induces the continuity of the embossed surface oriented in space.

The untitled figure from the “white” family was lifted up by an effort of the artist’s spine, and in
its final reinforced cement version it preserves the indexical relationship of its formal generation. Bodily experience also bears on the redefinition of plaster counter-molds, which have been traditionally used as technical procedures for cast bronze pieces.

Doing away with the mediation of plaster casting molds and seeking to interfere in the language of her pieces by making her own molds, Marcia creates new prototypes for modeling between 1998 and 2000. The techniques adopted for preparing these models for bronze casting include plastered and twisted canvas framing, which can keep up with the complex morphology of the moving human body. This allows Marcia to achieve impressive results which can be contrasted to the geometric linearity of the tilted bars featured in previous works.

These twisted and articulated rods gain space leaning against the walls at Valu Oria Art Gallery in 1998, reminding us of moving limbs. The set of black pieces and invites us to identify the distinguishing features of each animated, strangely contorted bronze piece. Each one of the rods unfolds into articulated segments which open up to different directions in space. They remind us of the torsion of muscles and bones that articulates the body’s movement; they resemble the articulation between different body parts in several angles of rotation and facing diverse directions.

Body-animated procedures bolster the creation of Marcia’s sculptures’ spatial repertoire and progressively expand the subliminal soul references that structure living beings and which, by the way, we all know very well, because we are capable of twisting our own bodies and catch ourselves in postures marked by a tense balance, sensing the requirements of body weight, support and suspension. In general, the relevant pieces bear visual similarity with segments of the body – bronze-cast shapes that resemble animals, bodies scattered near the ground, having seemingly yielded to the compressing forces of bodily elasticity.

Other animated bodies bene t from the pieces’ torsion, their visible instability, which is enhanced by the fragility of the mounting points. The limits that ensure the works’ balance seem to be more and more constricted. It is not necessary to underscore that Marcia continually raises the stakes in propping up her works, with the aim of producing the feeling that the work is barely able to stand upright.

This precarious balance can be observed in the distribution of the lean bronze pro les with no more than two mounting points, in spite of the unstable thickness of a mass which, in its torsions, is oriented in multiple directions. This prowess can be seen in a bronze belonging to the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, one of the works from the “black” family exhibited in the show, held at Centro Cultural São Paulo in 2000. A later version (2000- 2017) can be found at the Fundação Marcos Amaro collection, in Itu.

 

CLOSE-UPS AND DISTANCES
THE ABSENT BODY
TRACES AND VOIDS DISGUISES, HINTS CREVICES OR MOLDS 

A simultaneously old and new order of proximity is claimed by artists when they investigate direct contact with the body: a body that touches and is touched. Marcia’s corporeal approach is distinct from the visual assimilation undertaken by the resources of visual language. It includes means of nearness and tactile expression that comprehend the perception of materials and contact sensations.

Ever since the very first works in which the body becomes an active component in shaping the piece, Marcia has found in plaster more than an operational resource. As an ancient, white, indifferent material, plaster is itself a part of the molded sculpture tradition. She focused her attention on its properties from early on and made use of this material which accepts direct human contact, undergoes the subject’s inscription and conveys it into a work, materializing in the form of a mold.

On the floor of her studio, Marcia always has a receptive layer of powdered plaster, a horizontal field
for bodily experience. She rehearses marks and traces derived from the passage of a body, which can only be perceived in inanimate physical matter as something which is already absent from it. It is important to emphasize this dynamic setup of forces that leave traces behind and change a previous situation. Particles of plaster unveil past events by the absence of volume, just as they overlay parts of the body. This plaster powder bed is pliable enough to receive the imprint of a knee and give in to the pressure of a torso. As Heidegger said: ‘Emptiness is nothing. It is not even a lack of something: in becoming a body of sculpture, emptiness comes into play in the way it establishes places it risks and plans to open up’7.

Marcia develops such an experience from photographic records that enable her to rehearse bodily postures on the plaster’s expanse, to explore evidences of the body imprinted in matter. The living body invites figuration through outlining, tracing and frottage and gives rise to the different series of visual close-ups done between 2002 and 2012, with a remarkable use of framing and handling of photographic lighting. The result is a topography of fulnesses and voids, often in mirror images, positive and negative values, while existing tensions between figure and ground loom just under the surface.

The moving body, perceived as a dynamic event, is a conductor for other configurations. Instead of photographic images, Marcia’s spatial experience of the surrounding world pays no tribute to the figure/ground dichotomy. One can see that the space around the human body acquires material consistency through modeling when she fills in the empty spaces between parts of her own body and incarnates between- spaces. In this way, what is missing is corporified, and the same is also true for what ‘is neither known nor asked,’ making way for the appearance of unexpected forms. Marcia also handles the three-dimensional space taking polarities as a starting point, describing anew the relationship between what we call figure and ground, presented by means of a bidimensional phenomenon such as engraving. An inescapable convention that removes us from the real world – where vision functions
from different angles – and brings us into representational space.

The Crevices comprise dozens of small phantasmatic pieces deduced from between-spaces, first cast in plaster and resin around 2003–4. They give substance to the voids confined between body parts. They reveal that which is not known nor seen, such as an occasional void that lingers from an encounter between parts of the trunk, arm and leg. In this case, Marcia appropriates her own body, taken as a material medium for a work done on herself, and avoids dividing it according to the well-known categories set out by other disciplines. The body becomes an open field for suspected alternative trails, such as lead us to deduce the side of an arm resting on the torso of a reclining body. The procedure leads her to discover lines of force and occasional confluences that form complex and unexpected shapes, difficult to project, which offer themselves up as a guessing game.

It is impossible not to notice that, in the artist’s language, molds hold a conversation with crevices. Molds con ne; crevices open up voids and windows. Paradoxically, crevices can reveal themselves as being molds for things we do not know.

In its strangely familiar appearance, the organic setup of molds-crevices hovers above the world and waits
for the moment in which it will be reintroduced into it. At the time they were conceived, the resin-cast pieces motivated the Esculturas vestidas [Dressing Up in Sculpture] photoshoot, where they moved back to their place of origin and were placed once again on the voids of the artist’s body. The Crevices were reintroduced in their nests via photographs.

Photography as a resource plays an important part as a medium for the artist’s visual thought; it serves not only a memory aid, but also as an instrument for studying and observing the pieces. Our attention is mainly drawn to the use of photography as means for reproducing the series that explore the body’s traces left on plaster. In turn, the photograph is the shared element in Dressing Up in Sculpture, welding together several spheres of reality in an intermedia narrative essay.

Cast Crevices in acrylic resin and bronze feature in a new act at the exhibition held at Estação Pinacoteca in 2019. The resin Crevices’ transparency almost dissolves the solid volumes and mitigates pre-existent anthropomorphic evidences. Laid upon a plaster powder bedding on the floor of Pinacoteca, they rediscover in plaster the counter-mold’s matrix. The same volumes in bronze hang a short distance above the plaster bedding. Transparences and reflections reveal themselves as spatial phenomena which tend to generate a new saga between crevices, voids and molds. They magnetize dance in space. On the other hand, tied up and handled, the Crevices also reproduce themselves as pieces in a mechanical device. Crevices open up in the world another newly- invented world and create fables about beings that populate space.

Making literal use of a traditional staple of sculptural work – the mold – Marcia unpacks the relations between the content and its container in the Esculturas-molde [Mold-Sculptures] series, done between 2004 and 2010 in mixed media. Her exploration of bodily contours is conducted inside cubic molds so as to intertwine the organic and geometric dimensions, setting up ways by which the body is subordinated to the object and humanity is subordinated to the built environment. She dissolves spatial conventions, rebounding bodily contours on the external surfaces of cubic bronze volumes.

One’s attention is drawn to the results Marcia obtains from setups generated by the continuous unfolding of shapes and counter-shapes engendered in preparing matrixes, molds and prototypes. She tries to guide them in their scaping routes, sending them in another direction so as to downplay the sense of a molded body, prioritizing that of a free body established in an environmental space.

Successive formal unfoldings pervade much of her work. They lead us to assume that such familiarity with reliefs and counter-reliefs, concave and convex surfaces, formal experiences and their opposite, are able to preserve the memory of stages implicit in the process of sculptural production, as, for instance, in the transfer of a wax model to clay, of a clay model to bronze and of the cast piece to a place-space. Everything suggests that Marcia snatches from the entrails of sculpture the central foundation of a broader discourse about the procedural sequence of production operations in general.

 

AT PINACOTECA’S SPACE 

Bodily experience is the foundation of the primary process in Marcia’s work, but the works only take concrete form as material entities when they are sculpturally incorporated into a place, whether populating an empty expanse or positioned among the things of the world. Installed inside another constructive order, they inhabit coordinates in both the exhibition room and the institutional conditioning factors. With such an environmental calling, it is interesting to focus on how the indicators of corporality reappear as spatial entities in the user’s experience.

How do formed pieces behave in relation to the spatial context in which they are inscribed if they are
not oriented to the identification of motivations nor to the recognition of the origin of volumes? Marcia seeks to reduce them to minimal evidences that provoke empathy and strangeness in the observer. She misleads; her slightly present anthropomorphic suggestions are overturned into signs of absence. The hollow void – caused by the pressure of a knee on the plaster powder expanse – distances itself from the form-shaping effort; it is just a hole in a surface continuum. The user’s sensitivity is affected by the feeling of absence.

Nothing prevents reliefs imprinted by the body’s external contours from being reversed so as to become concavities and counter-reliefs. Also, nothing prevents modeled pieces from having a random orientation in space. As we know, Marcia gives more emphasis to the hollow, that which has been emptied, than to the body, that which is full.

Pieces which have the body as a starting point are turned around in space and reoriented to different angles of vision. Mounted and integrated into a new placement order, what prevails is the visibility of a merely suggestive form. The pieces show something unsuspected both to the author and to the spectator. The visitor is a moving being, a passerby invited to recognize the play of positions and to go along with the reversibility of forms.

Body parts hinted at on Pinacoteca’s walls become traces, tracks which replace the volumes left by the human body. The arm’s curvature, the leg’s volume, the back’s recess become fragments that pierce through walls as residues that hover above the world of objects. They allude to the dark side of all absences.

What is said by the bronze-cast molded reliefs when they are painted in white and set up continuously with Pinacoteca’s walls, inseparable, in their existence, from the fabric of the building? Gaps suggested by human fragments, almost invisible in counterpoint to the extension and continuity of the wall. They refuse to de ne themselves as bodies, as self- supporting forms. They merge the human dimension into the scale of the room, making free use of almost unrecognizable, enquiring strokes. Before perceiving the familiar scale of outlines derived from the movement of the limbs, we are mainly affected by the sensuousness of saliences and recesses. The pieces were made in 2000, when they were exhibited at Baró Senna Gallery.

Marcia operates simultaneously on the spatial effulgence of the silver- plated volumes which adhere to the very medium of the exhibition, and she also subtracts the visibility of pieces that pierce through that medium and dissolve in the white continuity of the walls.

The uneven raised sculpture that rests directly on the exhibition floor is significant. It originated from filling in the space between Marcia’s outstretched legs as she stood up. The molded, cast and white-painted piece is self-supporting and is associated with a pedestal. It is the support of an absent body. The sexual association is natural, but subliminal; it is no more than hinted at and remains a secret.

The plaster pieces that oat suspended in space, hung by nylon threads, were exhibited for the first time in 2002 at Monteiro Lobato Library, São Paulo. They gravitate and oscillate detached from the floor, showing themselves to the spectator as animated by a rotational movement. Once again, the body is the very origin of their extension in space. Some exemplars of this group reveal emptiness enveloped by a very thin skin. The gesture by which emptiness in front of the body is embraced motivates us to imagine the light plaster curves that curl around the body as a skin, a dwelling or a container. They reiterate the sense of being present at and absent from one’s shell.

  1. Heidegger, M. L’arte e lo spazio. Translation: Carlo Argelino. Introduction: Gianni Vattimo. Genova : Ed il Melangolo, 1984, p. 19. (Author’s translation.)
  2. Sloterdijk, Peter. Esferas I – Burbujas – Microesferología. Madrid: Ediciones Siriuela, 2003, p. 85. (Author’s translation.) Sloterdijk, Peter. Spheres I – Bubbles – Microspherology, p. 83.
  3. In Lines of Force (2018–19), Marcia uses cargo belts, availing herself of a civil construction implement. With this, she bring an image of the worker’s world into her piece. In Bone (2019), she pierces the roof
    of the exhibition room at Estação Pinacoteca to set her work up above the plaster ceiling, revealing a space that remained concealed from the public and cutting into institutional entrails, so to say. These examples will be detailed further below.
  4. Nixon, Mignon. ‘Bad Enough Mother,’ in October, Vol. 71, feminist issue (Winter 1995). Cambridge: The MIT Press, p. 73.
  5. For likeness by contact in the sculptural process, please see Didi-Huberman, ‘La ressemblance par contact.’ Archéologie, anachronisme et modernité de l’impreinte. Paris: Les Éditions Du Minuit, 2008.
  6. Some of Marcia’s works are based not only on her own body, but also in that of associates. Such is the case of the Blue Series photographs (2002) and the White family of works (2002) exhibited at Monteiro Lobato Library in the project Genius Loci – The Spirit of Place, held by the Maria Antônia Center.
  7. Heidegger. L’arte e lo spazio. Translation: Carlo Argelino. Introduction: Gianni Vattimo. Genoa: Ed. il Melangolo, 1984, pp. 42–45.

SPATIAL DEVICES PROPULSION GENERATED BY SUCCESSIVE COUNTERPARTS COUNTER-FORMS

In Marcia Pastore’s practice, installing a work is above all a response to the need to give spatial existence to works that are conceived gradually and then taken to inaugurate a place. The distribution of the weight of a simple rod between the floor and the wall is enough to demarcate a place, as shown by the untitled iron and graphite piece that was exhibited at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo in 1989. It is also at the root of Risco [Steak], consisting in a sequence of steel rods that extends in space by means of horizontal modulation, shown at the Central Gallery in 2013. It reappears in 2019 in a new edition which accords with the conditions offered by the exhibition room at Estação Pinacoteca.

In Marcia Pastore’s experience, the object’s transition into architectural space is marked by the spatial achievements of minimalist artists such as Donald Judd, with his floor-to-ceiling occupations, and Carl Andre extending his works from wall to wall. Robert Morris, an expert in the matter, thought that horizontality is ‘the space available to the body,’ since ‘we don’t easily move up, but instead out, across.’ He admitted that horizontality ‘is the vector of bodily movement that is least impeded, that requires the least effort.’ It’s the effortless movement experience of the human body, the displacement of the body, such as running and walking. According to him, ‘both visually and kinesthetically the horizontal, open expanse invites the secular impulse, the mundane beginning, the practical invitation’1.

The spatial formation of Marcia’s solutions is superimposed on the imagination that translates into words, so that, in general, her works do not need a title. After the fact, she uses generic names to indicate the members of a same family, which are named after the procedures involved: streaks, counter- weights, printers. For their organization, Marcia Pastore’s works receive their particular coordinates from the place. The artist avoids individuating them.

Since the 1990s, she prevents them from acquiring a self-supporting body and from resting on their own equilibrium. Propositions that have been thought out and matured step by step often result in pieces that can be disassembled and redefined at each new edition according to the place that receives them. They take on a provisional, transitory character and are already born with a tendency to survive by adjustments, t for a life of transitions from place to place. Although they often assume an unfinished aspect, they are revived at each new edition.

This sensitive organism has a capacity for self-transformation and for assuming diverse aspects in its temporal-spatial existence when shown in different premises. Marcia builds artworks made of articulated pieces, often from prefabricated components, which are easily adapted to different exhibition spaces. In her case, however, prefabricated components are not used to produce multiples, as one might hastily assume. Instead, they give rise to unique exemplars of each work. This flexibility is consistent with the event’s transformation at each new edition. Works that can be disassembled, that can disappear, have strong implications in the context of an exhibition like this, which brings together works from different dates.

Marcia’s pieces find a provisional stability when they are set up for an exhibition and set out on an environmental dimension. Capable of taking on different positions in the field, they are re-accommodated and changed in the exhibition context and reinterpreted at each new edition. Rosalind Krauss calls attention to cases in which ‘the need to surrender to the whole is weightier than the founding moment’2.

The fact that architecture brings together the efforts of sculpture, painting and industrial objects has generated a long and consistent chapter of historical modernity, which takes on peculiar aspects in the constructive trajectories of Brazilian contemporary artists and architects. Their works are well known among us and bear witness to the harsh conditions that intervene between the artifact and architecture
in our country. Let us see, then, how Marcia navigates this territory with a critical and ironical approach.

In 2010, Dobros [Doubles/Folds] emerges as a watershed in Marcia’s work, be it by exploring the event’s verticality and completely merging all components of architectural spatiality

or by the increase in environmental scale. The artist places six large steel plates in a sequence between the ceiling and the floor, splitting in two a room at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro. The plates are taller than the ceiling height of the room. Once they are hung, they bend and take on a curved shape near the floor. Their verticality bars the way and prevents the human body from traversing from one side of the room to the other. Only the gaps left by the bending of the plates unveil to the observer the other side of the room.

Whilst enforcing the segregation of space, the effects brought about by the mirror-like curved surfaces give it a semblance of expansion. Mirroring is an illusionistic effect that distorts the perception of the of the empty space in which the spectator finds him or herself and relocates him or her into a parallel, changeable universe. Mirroring is the means used to reproduce the scenery’s components: it doubles, multiplies and distorts spatial dimensions. It recombines the room’s dimensions, reflects and transforms
the magnitude of the bodies. Marcia multiplies sensations by introducing luminous and audible components by means of which the space reverberates in reflections of light and the installation rebounds the echo of sound vibrations.

The growing identification between the work and the place deepens the exploration of the limits between its intervention and the built environment. Marcia finds expansive solutions that project the work well beyond its mountings. At the same time, she tries to configure the ‘introduction of space into the work,’ which gives rise to an introvert piece titled Espaço Dobrado [Folded Space]. Developed by means of articulated segments of iron bars, it outlines a figure that seems not to t into the designated space. The updated work is presented at Pinacoteca.

Folded Space is a work originally conceived in 2010. Although I have not yet seen the final version, which will be mounted at Pinacoteca when this catalogue is ready, I wish to forward some considerations based on the three-dimensional record that hints at the elasticity of the space configured by the artwork, multiplying its inner potential and defusing the contrast between inward and outward in the participant’s experience.

The narrowing of the exhibition space dedicated to the work is a pre-requisite, a condition for the unfolding of this work, made up of articulated rods, in a reduced, intimate space, inside definite bounds. In general, Marcia’s works act upon the limits of the institutional space, but this proposal alludes to
the development of the work’s inner dimension and the inversion of the border between the inner and the outer.

Once the opposition between inside and outside is removed, the space folded inside the installation establishes an interdimensional synergy. It produces an image that is consistent with the relinquishment of rational standards of measurement and the emergence of an open environmental dimension from its very heart. It also hampers the physical movement of the passerby inside the work.

Marcia Pastore’s spatial devices emerge as challenges for which she must find a way out. Peso-Contrapeso [Weight- counterweight] is the name of the experience that occupied the headquarters of Galeria Funarte de Artes Visuais in São Paulo in 2009–10, due to which she was awarded the Prêmio Funarte de Arte Contemporânea. The work already showed a remarkable increase in the scale of its presentation and in the complexity which had to be taken on with no previous script. In the present show, at Pinacoteca, it is being reedited in a larger scale.

The system of weights and counterweights that defines the work makes use of steel cables which stretch across the room and run through two or more pulleys, being tensioned on both ends by two kinds of weights: iron rings and brass tubes of similar diameter, with variable lengths and weights, filled in with powdered marble. Each hanging tube corresponds to an iron ring of the same weight on the other end of the cable.

The work’s new setup at Pinacoteca calls for new calculations and has led Marcia do redefine brass tube dimensions to hang them in accordance with the strength of the building, its trusses and rafters. She accesses the museum’s structural elements by cutting into the plaster ceiling of the exhibition room.
She also uses pulleys as elements that potentialize three-dimensional space, relying on dozens of them, hanging from canvas belts, to ‘magnetize space and potentialize the use of architectural planes in the construction of the work,’ in her own words.

The work takes shape in the act of its being installed and on the basis of the components’ strength and the direction of vectors as Marcia randomly traverses the exhibition space. Her performance consists in mounting those cogs and in her three-dimensional experience of the space to be occupied, which makes space visible. Although she surrenders to a mechanical device, she compares that trajectory to that of ‘an airplane pilot that moves in airways,’ and voices the view that ‘the one who has spatial experience is not the pilot, but the flight controller’.

Marcia’s spatial devices, set up in open works under the determination of environmental coordinates, encompass the experience of the visitor who has been introduced inside them and resist a separation between inside and outside. Marcia’s installations make use of vectors and directions and take on a multidimensional sculptural language that finds connections in the site whereupon it acts, concerning itself more and more with environmental questions and local specificities3.

Corpo de prova [Specimen], in 2017, is a response, by literal juxtaposition, to the stimuli of Brazilian contemporary architecture. Its mounting at the Museu Brasileiro de Escultura e Ecologia (Mube) faces the sculptural territory thought out by Paulo Mendes da Rocha. The museum is an exemplary work, built in a small corner lot which gives frank visibility to its own limits in a section of the elegant Jardins neighborhood. The multiplying potential of open space asserts itself; the architect, making the most of the sloping ground, erects the museum on different plateaus. In the author’s own words, the building was born as ‘a stone in heaven,’ in a reference to the founding act of the 60-meter pre-stressed concrete roof that hovers over the lot. The roof that serves as a signature for the project on the horizons of Avenida Europa plays a foremost part in structuring the space of the museum in several levels, with a low elevation on the ground floor. The aesthetic fulness of Paulo’s project encompasses, by itself, the universe of contemporary sculpture and invites to reciprocal spatial appropriations.

Marcia acts directly upon the roof with no anticipatory drawing. She engages in a direct scuffle e with the place and probes the volume of the concrete slab, which is grabbed by clamps holding pulleys around which steel cables are set – ready-mades assimilated into the work directly from the hardware store.

Marcia clothes the hanging volume only to unclothe it from another perspective. She pays attention to the slab’s materiality and wants to show it as subordinate to the balance of forces; she wants to touch its gravitation by means of a framework of steel cables arranged according to the different heights of the free span. She adds: ‘ballasts made with material from the demolition of concrete slabs are no more than dead slabs.’ And she removed small cylinders from them to act as specimens. The steel cables tie specimens to concrete ballasts; ‘when the specimen is suspended by the (horizontal) displacement of a ballast, it functions as a vertical plumb line.’ This is a geometrical conversation that potentializes the interplay of forces at the Mube.

Specimen introjects a long arch of human effort. It connects know-hows, implies mechanical forces and contingent aspects of the constructive activity. It summons construction-related devices and talks about the things of a world that builds and unbuilds itself. Marcia once again touches the materiality of what is in front of us in her quest for an inside that externalizes itself.

More and more, Marcia’s operations occur in the very place where the work is born and submit to the available material conditions. This is what happened when two new columns were erected at the central hall in Estação Pinacoteca, usually called ‘columns’ hall’ due to the sequence of columns found therein, which constitute a strong imperative that conditions decisions made by contemporary artists whose work is show there.

What are those columns which she calls Osso [Bone]? Marcia wants to establish a vertical line and keep it pressured between floor and ceiling, so she prospects for the secrets of the supporting girders and tries to uncover the structure of forces that ensures the balance and verticality of the rods which compress suspended horizontal slabs of plaster. She reaches the building’s attic – a word that designates the space between the ceiling and the roof.

The holes opened on the ceiling due to its surface having been removed determine the dimensions of the plaster slabs which will be pressured by the rods. These rods are those used in civil construction to shore up concrete slabs when they’re poured. The opening lets us see the beam at the highest point of the vertical which undergoes pressure on both sides and reveals the building’s structure of forces.

Bone is the name she gives to the work. It is associated on the one hand with the building’s skeleton (a term used by modern architects) and, on the other, with the building’s memory. Extending her prospection also to the life history of the building that houses Estação Pinacoteca, Marcia is led to reflect on the marks and remnants of the old DEOPS, the Political and Social Order Department that acted as an agency of repression from 1964 to 1983, during the military dictatorship. It used to function at the place than in 2008 came to house the Memorial da Resistência, which takes up part of the building where Estação Pinacoteca is located4.

Marcia actualizes the working universe of the sculptor who deals with the physical properties of materials – weight, size, strength – by staging a play of opposing forces, disputing to overcome the immobility of cubic masses. She uses standardized belts to bind volumes and uses winches to pull steel cables in Linhas de força [Lines of Force], 2018–19, in order to face the weight and resistance of the cast plaster slabs. What is left before the spectator are the marks of the struggle and the impressions left behind by tracks on the floor.

Marcia once again alludes to the clash of forces by means of things impregnated by the world. She avails herself of solutions found in the realm of work and in the effort of construction. When first inscribed in a museum’s space of artistic perception, they might look rather harsh, and that is the reason why they are there. The procedures by means of which she creates Lines of Force assume the artist’s appropriation of the particular codes of heavy work, such as belts with different colors and stripes that de ne the amount of weight they are able to bear and lift.

In what measure does she go beyond a self-confined game? The blue seen in the belts is the only color brought into the show, and that, as one can notice, is not really due to an aesthetic choice, but rather to a code related to this specific piece of hardware. The work reminds us that training the senses of vision, touch and hearing is a part of the common man’s daily life, and that visual culture assimilates social organizational codes developed in the realm of manual work. It is not surprising that longshoremen can determine the weight of a volume by just looking at it and are quickly able to make use of visual codes to go about their jobs.

They make us think about the scope of perception, about how the human organism develops in an interaction with its environment and about the ability to make aesthetic distinctions between forms. There are, after all, subtleties, even within the bounds of physical effort. Mechanical forces, ropes and pulleys take us along a course of work that harks back to a time before the steam machine and industrial production had made their appearance, before the manufacture of metal parts. Pinacoteca’s exhibition brings into focus the specific result obtained in small- format works in which compacted plaster fills in the interstices of steel rings, 1989–2019. It does the same for recent works such as Beijo [Kiss], 2018, made of bricks that compress plaster, and Corpo de prova (granito) [Specimen (Granite)], 2019, in which granite, iron, pulley, steel cable, nuts and bolts are found.

The line of the horizon is an intangible phenomenon which can be perceived by distant vision. Linha-d’água [Water Line] is the name of the spatial device made to embody horizontality, to capture it and make it present, to give it tangibility. The paradox of a horizon installed inside Pinacoteca is set up by means of a succession of clamps5 hung up against the wall. The clamps hold acrylic tubes aligned on their upper end and unaligned below. The water placed inside those containers underscores the alignment, drawing a horizontal line. For Marcia, to bring near is to make distance disappear. This is also confirmed by the lens effect caused by the containers.

Lastly, one should mention Marcia’s aesthetic experience in an environmental scale: Transposição [Transposition], set up in Mairinque, 2018–19. In a large lot between the city and the countryside, the work emerges step by step, in a process sponsored by the Fundação Marcos Amaro. Marcia definitely creates a place when she demarcates an empty suburban territory that can stimulate and describe the movement of people away from the city. The work is being realized according to Marcia’s usual production economy, as she makes use of the resources that can be found at the site itself: adobe, earth and grass.

The irregular topography of the lot favors a layout that explores different elevations of the terrain and allows for the work to be seen at different distances and in several framings and angles of vision. There is a certain unaffectedness in the way she faces the construction process – transporting earth from one place to another, in a kind of earthwork that excavates and embanks the terrain. Another locally-motivated resource is the occupation of the terrain, which manipulates the different heights of the scenery by filling in different elevations of the work.

While Marcia plots a way through the territory and traverses the natural landscape, she moves from the real to the virtual in expressing herself through the language of film. The video that introduces the present exhibition, broadens the meanings of its interpretation. The virtual image that opens up the exhibition captures an existential moment, the transit of simple gestures that leave their imprint on time… at each small ball thrown by Marcia on the mass of plaster powder. In this way, it fills out time and space; it plays. Everything happens spontaneously, emerging in free mode: the moving body interacts with materials, standing with them, and makes works spring up without pre-intended results.

Chance and play involve perception and three-dimensional bodily movement, while the language of film plays with projection in all directions and dimensions. When we see the image transposed into film on the wall of Pinacoteca, when the floor thus occupies the wall, we move into a parallel universe – as familiar as it is strange, as playful as it is aggressive.

  1. Morris, Robert. From Mnemosyne to Clio:
    The Mirror to the Labyrinth (1998–1999–2000). Museé d’Art Contemporain, Lyon, Skira, p. 98.
  2. Krauss, Rosalind. L’originalité de l’avant-garde at autres mythes modernistes. Translation: Jean-Pierre Criqui. Paris: Ed. Macula, 1993.
  3. In this catalogue, Weight-Counterweight is accompanied by a presentation by Fernanda Pitta, who also addresses the piece Printers (2012).
  4. The red brick building that houses Estação Pinacoteca is a solid work by architect Ramos de Azevedo, completed in the second decade of the 20th century, when it used to house the Administrative Section of Sorocabana Railways. Afterwards, it suffered several interventions.
  5. This piece reutilizes components taken from the disassembled works that had been installed at the Museu Brasileiro de Escultura e Ecologia.

 

Ana Maria Belluzzo – curator
Graduated in Course for the Formation of Design Teachers from Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado (1966), Master in Arts from Universidade de São Paulo (1980), PhD in Architecture and Urbanism from Universidade de São Paulo (1988) and Livre-Ensino (1997)). She is Full Professor of Art History at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo (1998-1999) and currently collaborates as a collaborating professor in the Postgraduate Course at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo. Acts as a critic, researcher and independent curator. He is a member: of the Brazilian Association of Art Critics; the Brazilian Art History Committee; the research committee of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Artistic Orientation Council of the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo; coordinates the Brazilian committee of the project “Documents of 20th Century of Latin American and Latino Art”, with the São Paulo Research Foundation.