PANDORA’S BOX / REGINA SILVEIRA
by Thais Teotonio
T: You are the artist participating in the current edition of Pandora’s Box, held at the Ivani and Jorge Yunes Collection – CIJY. How was your first contact with the space and the collection? Did ideas come up at that first moment?
R: I had already visited the collection and had also seen some of its previous interventions. I had some ideas ever since I learned, months before, that I might be invited to a future participation in the Pandora’s Box project, but I only started planning for real when I received the invitation and I was then able to start, hands on, which is always necessary in a site specific intervention as this collection demands. You have to walk through it, immerse yourself in the atmosphere of those rooms and gardens to imagine possible narratives. It was what I did for long hours, studying and photographing what had deeply touched me as a field of possibilities for some transformations. The result was a synthesis of this process, because I had to choose from many ideas, but the intention that motivated all of them was always to produce strangeness.
T: The idea of strangeness runs through your entire production, in Insólitas you work this displacement from the usual in a specific way. How do you articulate this concept through the material used? How does the choice of the dining table, for instance, relate to the idea?
R: Provoking strangeness has been a recurring operation on my way since Anamorfas (1980). I cherish the poem that Haroldo de Campos gave me, which he called Banal Fantástico when he noticed my attitude in those deformed images of the small everyday objects that constituted the repertoire for Anamorfas.
Also in the Inusitados project I rely on signs with established meanings to anchor displacements that make the expected difference – the new quality or radical change that may result from this sum. The dining room, chairs and frame covered in black fur are my catastrophic statement about the daily life of a hierarchical social life, placed under the threat of an imaginary animalization, but ideally growing from its collected furniture, at a nightmare pace.
T: Augmented Reality is increasingly present in contemporary artistic production, the term itself suggesting an expansion of reality, as if it became bigger or more evident. In the works Paraqueima and Des-Igneos, this technology is used to insert fire, burning. Tell us a little more about the choice of objects and the symbology behind each of them.
R: Augmented Reality is another step in the stream of illusionism, started with Brunelleschi’s small model with mirror, to understand the illusion of the real provided by the perspective, even in the Pre-Renaissance. This chain of substitutions of the real and the creation of simulacra, which includes from the phantasmagoria of mannerism to pre-cinema, encompasses photography and a large part of the visualities in motion — which currently reaches us in these terms of digital virtuality — has always interested me. I approached parts of this imaginary not so much from the ironic side, as a good part of Duchamp’s work could teach me, but from the possibilities of manifesting political positions and contents in graphic works, already grafted into those elongated shadows of absent politicians and works of art that I developed in the 80’s, going through different media and supports.
Now I am dedicated to this – to design works in virtual and augmented reality – that I consider as a checkmate in the perception and understanding of the perceived reality and which I have used to pass on an understanding of a substitute world that is, deliberately, not very comfortable.
Paraqueima and Des-Igneos point to areas of significance – of art and history – that I want to radically modify, by making them catch fire! Virtual, of course. As simple as that.
T: In Mundus Admirabilis, harmful bugs appear looming and caged in the transparent structure of the pool, the strangeness, there, occurs in other ways, even if animalistic. What interests you in changing the scale of such animals that often generate some disgust? How does this imprisonment relate to power structures?
R: Mundus Admirabilis was the first work in the series of plagues that I built in 2007, as an allusion to biblical plagues, to discuss the evils that ravage us today. The accumulation of harmful bugs was born from a page of an encyclopedia that I copied in the Picture Collection of the NY Public Library and which first helped me to make the installation-cage in a huge glass box at the CCBB in Brasília, in response to the invitation of the exhibition Jardins do Poder (Gardens of Power), organized by MAM SP and curated by Felipe Chaimovich. The transparent cage, which I imagined as dazzling, especially when brightly lit, was given this title precisely to allude to the magnificence of our corrupt political life in that center of power. Next, the motif of the harmful bugs was used to build the installation with the embroidered linen tablecloth and the set of porcelain covered by insects – which I called Rerum Naturae. The harmful insects, magnified or not, served me to present, within the scope of the contemporary plague discourse, the deterioration and contamination of our daily lives.
Mundus Admirabilis is a work that has traveled to several places (United States, Colombia, Poland, Saudi Arabia) where it adhered to internal and external architectures and has always maintained this gigantic and surprising appearance. It had never been on the glass entrance to a swimming pool, as it is in the Yunes collection. I believe that there the work can be seen as a premonitory presence of our current perception of the dangers of contamination in our daily lives, but it can also return to being the stunning cage that I imagined for its first installation, in that cultural center in Brasilia, where the harmful insects do not generated disgust, but aroused a feeling of magic, caused only by its very scale.
T: The title of the exhibition, Unusual, gives a tone of surprise to all the works, as we wander around the space the critical abnormality becomes more evident, occupying the place of shallow commotion. How was the title chosen and how do you see the connections that the word allows?
R: Titles are always very difficult to give, to works or exhibitions. Should they be descriptive or reveal the artist’s intention? Can they help towards interpretation?
This time, for the general title of these interventions, I have opted for the effect – the feeling of strangeness caused by an unexpected graft done to objects, scenes or supposedly “normal” places!
Hard task, because in that collection there is no “normal” visualization anywhere. For this reason I have given the effect of unusual event to furry furniture, fire, giant insects and a blowfly trapped by a flash of light.