LIVER TALKING, by Anna Bella Geiger
"Livers Talking", Anna Bella Geiger, 1968. Photo: Anna Bella Geiger Collection
Horizontal, color photo. Anna Bella Geiger sitting in a chair, looks at the camera, supporting her hand on her face. She wears a blue coat, a red scarf patterned with green and white details, and a black blouse, which barely appears under the two pieces. Publicity image for the new book by Edições Sesc
Anna Bella Geiger. Photo: Diana Tamane

AAnna Bella Geiger looks at the world from within and without simultaneously, a little native and a little alien. In the new book of Editions Sesc SP, dedicated to the artist, this is how we see her: a little from the inside and a little from the outside. Combining a critical essay, biography, interview, images of works and personal collection, the publication allows not only an analysis of her production, but a dive into the trajectories that form the artist and, consequently, her work. Organized by Fabiana de Barros, Michel Favre and Márcia Zoladz, Anna Bella Geiger is part of the collection Art, work and ideal, started in 2019, and has a booklet in English, containing the full translation of the text.   

Sculptor, painter, engraver, draughtsman, multimedia artist and teacher, Geiger is perhaps, above all, a “curious spirit”, as defined by the Spanish artist Estrella de Diego. Responsible for the critical essay, the professor provides us with a first look at the artistic trajectory of the Brazilian woman. More than tracing a timeline, it seems to guide us through the concepts and contexts that forged each of the phases of the artist's work. Thus, it becomes possible “to value the artist’s legacy and her path, which remains perennially forged by a critical, political and social vision, as well as by concerns of the subjective fields, gives rise to the intertwining of the manifest faces of what we are, or of the that we can become”, as he proposes Danilo Miranda, director of Sesc São Paulo, at the presentation of the book. 

Starting with Anna Bella's trip to New York in 1954, we came into contact with abstractionism, the change to a more figurative language, the arrival of its visceral phase in 1965 and production from 1970 onwards, with experimentation in photogravure, photomontage, silkscreen , xerox, postcard, video and Super-8. In this way, Estrella seeks to introduce us to what he defines as two recurring concerns throughout Geiger's career: spatial subversions and the production of dissident serialities. Both the organs of the series viscera – which extend, explode and fracture, taking “spatiality as a territory for their own subversions” – while maps – which question the role of women in history and explain the growing critical view of colonial policies – are good examples of how the space issues raised go beyond questioning perspective. The series, on the other hand, allow the artist to explore repetitions, going against the pressure for a single work – defined by the author as part of the hegemonic discourse. 

And if the subtitle that opens the essay – The first visit to New York: the world without Duchamp – points out the absence of an encounter in life between the Dadaist and Geiger, throughout the text, we note that “somehow, however, this encounter took place in a place outside the tangible world”. Duchamp – and his female alter ego Rrose Sélavy – permeate Anna Bella's works and the concepts that guide them. “Both [Duchamp and Geiger] look at the world from within and without simultaneously, as natives and aliens; like seers – with their eyelids ripped off”, writes the Spanish teacher. 

A postcard from the series native Brazil / alien Brazil opens the second part of the book – the interview – and sets the tone for what follows: the native gaze. The text compiles two conversations between Geiger and the Mexican curator Pablo Léon de La Barra, one in February and another in November 2018, never published before. 

The interview begins with accounts of his childhood and youth as part of a Polish Jewish immigrant family in Catete, Rio de Janeiro, between the 1930s and 1950s. This is how Geiger leads his first encounter with Fayga Ostrower, who would become his teacher. The answers allow us not only to delve into her work, but also to delve into the cultural and political scene in which she was inserted. relationships and memories that came to build their visions of the world, Latin America and art. The conversation turns out to be a tour of his studio, and this impression is intensified by the images of his experiments, works and personal photos that we come across through the pages of the publication. 

Léon de La Barra sometimes revisits crucial points in the artist's work and trajectory, restoring a chronological and formal organization to the narrative. This chronology often seems to be dispensed with in the book, whether in the critical text or in the interview. “My attitude towards art is conceptual or ideological”, points out Geiger, and it is from this that history seems to be sewn together, passing through the bonds with other artists, the formal changes in the work, or the historical facts that marked the visions ideological and conceptual elements that make up his body of work. 

At the end, the book by Edições Sesc SP summarizes Anna Bella Geiger with a brief biography and brings a list of entries, with terms from the art world and mini biographies of those who cross history. Thus, the publication proposes to put in a triangular perspective the relationships between the artist, the means she uses and the collectivity – that is, between art, work and ideal.

Square, color photo. Cover of the book ANNA BELLA GEIGER, from the ARTE, WORK AND IDEAL collection, published by Edições Sesc SP in 2021. The book has a beige cover, with the title in white lowercase letters, the title of the collection just below in bold and in black. In the lower right corner, in a rectangle, the detail of one of Geiger's abstract works.
Cover of the book “Anna Bella Geiger”, from the “Arte, Trabalho e Ideal” collection, published by Edições Sesc SP in 2021. Photo: Disclosure.

Anna Bella Geiger | Collection Art, work and ideal v. two
Organized by: Fabiana de Barros, Michel Favre and Marcia Zoladz
Editions Sesc SP
R$ 60

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