On Thursday, May 28th the studios at Largo das Artes opened again for an exhibition. As a summing up of my residency, I created an installation to both reflect on and to make sense of my experience of Brazil. The idea of the project came to me almost at once, seeing the main components in my head in a sudden burst of insight. At first, I had no idea why these parts had to be together but I was certain of their necessity. Many of the smaller details came and left during the weeks of making; the process of dumping everything into the space (making a "glorious mess") was an exhilarating riddle of potentials, after which eliminating pieces in order to solidify the whole became a painful but absolutely necessary exercise.
Given the short deadline to finish, even leading up to the exhibition, I was certain that the ideas that arose would require more time to be refined and made sense of, time that I will only have once back in my own studio. So I was thinking about the installation as a sketch version of a piece that will be finalized later. But, as I was actually putting on the finishing touches, it became clear to me that this—just like any other installations I've made—is a one-off. It is tied to the place and the experience, I can't, don't need to and I probably wouldn't be remaking.
|The next few images are early "undigested" versions of the installation. There is a lot more in here, including text, a firehose and various material studies that were interesting but never made the connections to the other parts.|
|Testing various ways of presenting the dog.|
|I really wanted to use the cut vinyl piece from last month but it was too delicate and it did not feel right. At the end, it had to go.|
|This early version in which the shadow and the objects together make a black and white drawing is also interesting.|
|I discovered this shop devoted exclusively to selling styrofoam forms and figurines only too late. Sadly, at that point, there was no place any more in my universe for these amazing kitsch objects.|
So given the number of images and the lengthy narrative that goes with the work, I'll be making two entries related to the installation. This first one explains the materials and how they had come into the work, as well as why they've never left. Here we go:
Net and hair extensions: These two came hand in hand in my almost photo-quality moment of insight. The net is unravelling into threads of hair, ...or the is hair woven into a net? They are both black, creating another subtheme for the installation: black drawing on white surfaces. Both net and hair are synthetic. Their artificial nature is important; made with the same kind of plastic, they add another aspect of make-believe to the scene. The net is both a barrier, a soft version of the ubiquitous fences and zones of demarcation in Rio that separate the have's from the have-not's, but it is also a protective canopy that spans over and beyond the entire scene.
|I started with hanging the net and later adding the hair extensions to it. This process opened and closed spaces and later on allowed me to play with the tensions.|
|In a few weeks I've attached hair to all the ends, making a much larger net. This picture was taken before the net was raised into place.|
|Kayapo women making a body painting. Kayapo designs are very linear, and typically based on parallel lines that sprawl the entire body, including the face.|
|A page from the book Grafismo Indígena (Indigenous graphics) edited by Lux Vidal. These Nhiakrekampin drawings of animals inspired the idea of incorporating animals in the form of a drawing into the installation.|
|The Real Thintail.|
|A test version of Thintail created as a white light, a projected animation.|
|I love the way the form fills the space and puts the other objects in relationship with the projection but this test version of the black dog did not go forward because it diverted the meaning of the dog too much.|
|Petting Thintail's head with Kris Barz, who helped to translate my animated movement sequence into a line-drawing with his tablet. I then made the still frames into the finished version of the animation.|
|Various aggregates (sand, small gravel and crushed rock) is waiting to be added to the asphalt/bitumen which is a byproduct of oil refining and commonly referred to as "tar."|
|Carla and Leonardo discussing the process of asphalt making.|
|The giant mixer of the Caju asphalt plant.|
|The people who live right next door to the plant hang laundry. The air is very polluted with silica and dust. We, as guests were given dust masks, but no one else at the plant seemed to wear them.|
|Rubber tree in the Jardim Botanico.|
|Installation in an early, work in progress stage. The designs that are on the wall are cut from rubber. In the final version they are on the ground.|
|Ornamental colonial designs seen everywhere in the ironwork of gates, windows and railings have been an interesting contrast to the simple rhythm of Kayapo drawings.|
|Some of the constructions from an early version of the installation.|
I love the word. It's especially meaningful to me and was not sure if it could be applied to such a specific idea or that I should wait and use it at some later time. I love the idea of axioms. They play a large part in my making processes in the form of simple rules and starting points that are given and do not change. With our mathematician friends, I enjoy taking about mathematical axioms, constantly inquiring what they are, how they had come about and whether or not they hold true. Seems like there should be things that are fundamental and unchanging, on the other hand, their existence is also a difficult proposition to accept. I love axioms and I hate them. I need them and I fight them. There are axioms in not only in math but everywhere else in the world: in societies, in cultures, in philosophies, in the way we each live our lives. I don't know if I've managed to say anything new about them, but, at the end, this new iteration of Parlor Games has enough in it for me to call it Axioms.