Body and experimentalism are existential milestones in the production of performing artists. The 40 works that make up the exhibition My language: Lenora de BarrosAt Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo, emphasize the multiple combination of languages activated by the artist over four decades. In a spiral, cognitive way, the set reveals the affinities of the artist's production from the 1970s to video performance The face. The tongue. The Womb. (2022), born during the exhibition process, curated by Pollyanna Quintella and commissioned by Pinacoteca. Like rare artists, Lenora removes clay from its utilitarian and decorative purpose and places it at the center of an experimental, conceptual discourse, making a reading of the matter where she anchors the images. The face. The tongue. the womb🇧🇷 decant and deviate sensuality in several directions. The three parts that make up the work are strategies for her to experience the sensual movements of the clay on her body.
Installed in the center of a large room, the work instigates and involves the spectator, but allows him to make his own “journey”. The slow movement of the hands kneading the clay, in an attempt to “sculpt” a huge tongue, is sensual. The idea is that the spectator achieves another visibility, privileging phenomena invisible to the eyes and “seeing” the object coming out of his mouth. To achieve illusionism, Lenora relies on the looks of partners who accompany the filming. As she comments, “performing this is quite different than doing a live performance”. For some time now, the artist has investigated the relationship with language and the word language, at the same time the idea of idiom, organ and language. This definition was reiterated by her in the Flip this year, on the table The Body of the Image. The pioneering approach to the conceptual approach to the word and the body in the visual arts, due to the symbolic importance of the chosen elements, transforms some of his works into imagetic counterwriting.
The abdomen also maintains sensuality in the video performance and is part of a definition by the concretist poet Décio Pignatari. “The woman has the watch of history in her navel”. Lenora comments on the closeness of the concept to the work by yourself, in which a ping-pong ball slides over the same area of the abdomen. The astonished face, one of the guiding threads of Lenora's work, appears discreetly in the video performance.
The works gravitate around the central work and maintain conceptual connections such as the series I don't even want to see (2005), consisting of four videos projected on small monitors: eye touch, she doesn't want to see, I've seen it all, there are women. In I've seen it all, Lenora is filmed hooded by knitted mesh, closed over your head. In this work, she chose to use knitting, “a stigmatized activity, because I am a female, I have knitted myself”. Even hidden under a hood, it acts in an experience that moves in a dual essence: visual and verbal. The same fingers, ring and index, that pierce the clay in the video performance, in I've seen it all try to create a hole in the knitted wool. THE sounding echoes the whispered poetic language that reaches murmurs. already in the video there are women, born from a text published from 1993 to 1996, in the column some, signed by Lenora at Jornal da Tarde, the affiliation with videoperformance is more due to the aesthetic experience. The poem there are women is recited in a low voice, in the same rhythm rhythm of the other works in this series, in which his language games are always present.
The awareness of the body as a poetic perception becomes stronger for Lenora when she participates in the exhibition radical women (2016), at Pinacoteca, curated by Andrea Giunta and Cecilia Fajardo-Hill. The collective brought together around 100 artists with works produced between 1975 and 1985. “All manifested themselves from the body, the body that supports expression, the ideal body from the body”, as defined by the artist, who strongly identified with them.
Playfulness surrounds the series A Hand Mask (2017), composed of objects born when she happens to visit a studio in the United States. “I didn't have the slightest intention of working with clay, because until that moment I thought, I have nothing to do with it”. However, one day, when picking up a block of clay, she was working inside out, from behind. It arrives at the movements of creating orifices that were repeated and gave rise to A Hand Mask, to be worn like gloves, supposedly individual, but which, by socializing performatively, gains a liberating seal. With this work Lenora reaffirms the maxim that any object can speak a secret language.
The concept that makes up Lenora's inventory, now real and now imaginary, brings a repertoire of questions that permeate from one work to another and places a watchful eye on other cognitive registers. The artist alters the perception of art with questions that communicate through the centralization of the body and the self. The series looking for me (2003) came about naturally when she passed by a kiosk installed in front of a hairdresser, at Shopping Iguatemi, where people could be photographed with long hair. “I found that situation unusual, funny, curious and decided to do it”. The photoperformance was published in the notebook But!, from FSP, and evolved into other developments.
When the attack on the Twin Towers takes place, she watches desperate people on TV looking for each other. With that, she invents different self-portraits that resemble posters of missing persons, pasted in public places. The photos are different from each other and do not reveal the real Lenora. These images bother. In 2002, some posters of Lookme, placed on the facade of Centro Universitário Maria Antônia, were vandalized by the Art-Attack group, which confessed to the damage. Now, this work assumes a positive role in the implementation process of the new assembly of the Pinacoteca collection. looking for me, among other works, is permanently on display in some places in the museum.
In addition to expressiveness and the challenge of interpreting the work of Lenora de Barros, which in each show provokes new interpretations according to the temporal situation, the exhibition opens up to updated reflections on a new beginning.
Lenora de Barros: my language
Pinacoteca Luz Building: Praça da Luz, 2, São Paulo, SP, 2nd floor
October 8, 2022 to April 9, 2023
Visitation: Wednesday to Monday, from 10 am to 18 pm.
Tickets: R$ 20,00 (full price), R$ 10,00 (half-price), free on Saturdays