The research in the book Cildo – studies, spaces, time, launched by Ubu Editora, is one of the competitors in the Sérgio Milliet category, of the Brazilian Association of Art Critics Award. Organized by Guilherme Wisnik and Diego Matos, the edition delves into the universe of Cildo Meireles, one of the most cult Brazilian contemporary artists.
Another Ubu production, the book 3nós3: Urban Interventions, the result of research by Mario Ramiro, is another that competes in the same category, in addition to Visual arts, Contemporary Brazilian Essays Collection, organized by Fernando Cocchiarale, André Severo and Marilia Panitz and edited by Funarte.
Cildo participated in the book launch, at Galeria Luisa Strina, in São Paulo. On the left, the artist autographs the book; on the right, the Ubu Editora team and the organizers.
Read article about the book, published in issue 42 of the magazine ARTE!Brasileiros.
The metamorphosis in the artist's work
by Tiago Mesquita
The book Cildo – studies, spaces, time, released by Ubu Editora, portrays the trajectory of Cildo Meireles based on his procedures. Organizers Diego Matos and Guilherme Wisnik gathered around forty works, carried out over fifty years of career. The works are presented through exhibition photographs, artist's notes, drawings and projects. We know how the works were made public, but also the steps of Cildo Meireles' elaboration and part of his critical repercussion.
The traces help us to reconstruct the steps of the work. We follow the metamorphoses of some important works over time and understand the form they take at different stages: idealization, design, implementation and use. The documentation came from the artist's own archive and is arranged in chronological order.
The relationship between the works in the book makes us think of a relationship between the ideas of what came before and what came after. The book is completed by an excellent critical fortune that explores the work's dialogue with the history of Brazilian and foreign art, the relationship with different theoretical forms and the meanings that the work gained when it escaped from its author's hand.
The book studies the variations of some ideas and the meaning they gain in different forms of implementation. For this reason, the works shown do not have a defined technique, nor do they require a conventional form of attention from the viewer. Perhaps this is why more objective works, such as gold and clubs, geometry cases, Money Tree, which call for a more traditional form of contemplation, have been left out of the book's narrative.
The notion of study organizes the work. The study would be a refinement of the puzzles that put ideological convictions in check. It would be a test of those perceptions. Thus, it is reminiscent of the scientific experiment, the test of hypotheses.
Guy Brett, in a text from 2005, republished in the book, states that the Brazilian production of the generation immediately before Cildo Meireles relied on the senses. This investigation of perception was a way of facing the limits of a bureaucratic rationality. Art had to deal with these limits and seek a new relationship with life.
Artists such as Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica distance themselves from traditional rationalist contemplation to create relationships between meanings that were apparently disconnected. Thus, they created situations or environments, in which these sensual ways of perceiving work at high voltage. Body and mind, reason and sensibility, even the forms of conviviality would be remade by these more direct and community relationships. This escapist, romantic and sensorial promise does not seem to be in front of Cildo when he begins his first works.
The artist comes from the generation baptized by Frederico Morais as the “AI-5 generation”. The promises of modernization and the construction of a utopian perception were not on the horizon. His sensations at work, from then on, become room for doubt. As we learn from Frederico's text, sensory experience is called into question. Thus, the appearance of the spheres in the installation of Eureka/Blindhotland (1970-1975) is contradicted by its weight and the sounds amplify what Sônia Salzstein names as confusion of the senses.
Therefore, the space of Cildo's first works, the Virtual Spaces: Corners (1967-8), is not expansive. It looks like a dead end. the color of red shift (1967 – 84) does not enhance perception beyond the limits of rationality: red makes objects homogeneous. The experiences are negative, of looking for something through sensations, through the instruments of reason and not finding it. The study seems to exhaust this knowledge, in a permanent skeptical exercise of doubt.
Cildo Meireles is probably one of the contemporary artists who most influenced engaged contemporary art, despite himself. Unlike many who use art as a vehicle for convictions, but it is ideological criticism, criticism of the way we think when we believe we don't think. His political strength is the radicalization of uncertainty and indefiniteness. This book brings us the power of radical doubt.