Horizontal, color image. Work DRIFT BOTTLE 7 (DRIFT TEST), by Jorge Macchi, a plastic bottle of mineral water that contains inside a reduced-scale reproduction of a sailboat
"Drift bottle 7 (Drift Test)", Jorge Macchi. Photo: Edouard Fraipont / Courtesy Galeria Luisa Strina
Horizontal, color photography. View of the exhibition THE STATURE OF LIBERTY, by Jorge Macchi. Room with white walls and light gray floor. 3 works are presented, from left to right we have: DEBAJO DE LA MESA, in which 6 wooden tables of equal size and shape are connected by the ends of their legs, leaving an empty central space that forms a kind of invisible cube; THE STRATEGY OF THE AMOEBA, a small automated travel bag that wanders alone through the gallery - and CONFÉSION, cardboard boxes of 50-inch smart TVs whose surface features a cross-cut pattern that recalls the perforated metal of confessionals.
View of the exhibition, with the works “Debajo de la mesa”, “The amoeba strategy” and “Confésion”. Photo: Edouard Fraipont / Courtesy Galeria Luisa Strina

Sin a defined direction and clear objective, a small suitcase on wheels travels alone through the gallery. Colliding with works, walls and visitors, it changes its course at each obstacle – like a protozoan, which reacts primarily to a stimulus, moving away or approaching.. Its about La amoeba strategy (The amoeba strategy, in free translation), by Jorge Macchi. For the Argentinian artist, the installation allows, in a grotesque and good-humored way, that the apparent diversity of the exhibited pieces is “ridiculously homogenized” in the exhibition The stature of freedom, which opened on February 9 at the Luisa Strina Gallery in Sao Paulo.

The works, made in different materials and with different characteristics, seem to be gathered together as in a storybook, in which each work is independent. The automated suitcase presents itself as a “voracious and obstinate object, which circulates creating ever new relationships between the pieces”, points out Macchi. Thus, it corroborates the artist's primary intention: “To see an underground river that runs through all objects”, somehow connecting them.

However, it may not be possible to name this river, to put this supposed unity into words. “Usually, they think that an artist has to explain his work, but we are talking in another language: the visual one. It is not possible to translate”, explains the Argentine. Such as La amoeba strategy, we went through the exhibition, creating possible relationships between the works and trying to understand them from their primary language, instead of defining them in an attempt at translation. "You statements [these explanatory descriptions], torture to which we are subjected daily around the world, are futile attempts to simplify artistic creation to the extreme in order to make it more accessible. I Think they are anti-anxiety pills that calm the spectator, but steal the complexity of the artistic event”, says Macchi; and adds: “In light of this, I say that there is no way to determine and delimit poetry. One can feel that there is something, even if one cannot put it into words. My wish is that the set of works that make up this exhibition allow us to perceive that thread or that river that is apparently not there”.

The Statute of Liberty

Walking through the gallery, we come across several objects that may allude to reality, but that somehow alter it. The series confession (Confession, in free translation) brings two cardboard boxes, which used to store smart TVs and are now empty, whose surfaces have cross patterns that refer to religious confessionals. In Under the table (Under the table), six wooden tables are connected by their feet, creating an empty central space – consequently, the title starts to refer to a position that does not exist, since there is no longer “under the table”, but rather the center of a sculptural object. All the words of the world (All the words in the world) is a wall without bricks, in which only the cement that held them together remains, and whose shape recalls the shape of a computer keyboard.

Despite Jorge Macchi's preference for not establishing a rigid relationship between the title and the exhibition, there is a relationship in these alterations of the real. As he himself highlighted in an interview with arte!brasileiros: “There is something in the creation of this title that interests me: how the addition of a single letter transforms an object (The Statue of Liberty) into a concept (the stature of liberty). The works start from the premise of introducing very small changes in reality and, thus, disturbing the way we perceive or understand it”. The artist also believes that the title can be seen as a distant reference to The Phantom of Liberty, by film director Luis Buñuel. “The film is a succession of seemingly independent situations, capriciously linked by a character or a situation, and the result of which is a violent attack on everyday logic.”

Following this proposal, several of the works seem to raise the ideas of presence and absence, permanence and ephemerality. if in the series Present structures made of steel rods reproduce the folds of a paper that at some point wrapped a box - which is absent -, Wake up refers us simultaneously to permanence and ephemerality, which reproduces a piano keyboard in which a sequence of pressed keys freezes the moment of execution of a G minor chord, “whose sound has already faded, or whose sound remains and, precisely, its permanence makes it inaudible”, as the gallery’s introductory text explains. 

In the corridor at the back of the gallery, we also find a series of watercolors. According to Macchi, they are the beginning of artistic creation. “If an image arises through an urban experience, or a simple drawing, or a memory, the first thing I think about is how it can materialize.” The paintings are the most immediate attitude, the idea directly transferred to paper. When the artist seeks a way to better communicate these images and extract their greatest riches, many end up generating another piece, in a different medium. “If I stuck to a technique or a material, I would leave that premise aside”. This adds a certain heterogeneity not only to this exhibition, but to his body of works as a whole. “In general, I don't like to recognize an artist by seeing only one work. I am against the idea of ​​style”, concludes Macchi. 

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