The work O Alienista is made up of several puppets, such as the Juiz de Fora, the Creationist and the Flat-Earther. (PHOTO: Disclosure)

The limits between sanity and madness, repression and uprising, are two of the central themes of Or Alienist, the famous short story by Machado de Assis, published in 1882, even before the Proclamation of the Republic, were transferred to 2019, in the exhibition of the same title by Rivane Neuenschwander, on display until next Saturday, May 18, at Galeria Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel.

In the classic text, the doctor Simão Bacamarte founded the Casa Verde in Itaguaí, a retreat for the insane (this is the term used by the writer), where he ends up interning, in an untimely and authoritarian way, the majority of its population, only to release them, partly because of popular uprisings. He then suspects that the craziest would be the saneest, and collects them. But the alienist ends up concluding that the only madman is really him, and becomes the only resident of Casa Verde, to die months later.

There is no doubt that, in recent years, Brazil has become an Itaguaí, given the level of insanity in the country, and the comparison Neuenschwander makes in his show is notable for updating the current moment through the Machadian filter: who is crazy? After all, the rise of figures like Olavo de Carvalho and Damares Alves in the Brazilian government leaves doubts about the sanity of the country itself.

Thus, to deal with the exaggerated and caricatured figures in circulation, the artist uses this same type of resource: the twenty dolls that make up the set. Or Alienist are three-dimensional caricatures. As such, they are funny and weird, avoiding a judgmental or even angry tone. It's like looking at the present from an even naive, almost childlike perspective, of dolls made of papier-mâché, glass bottles and other materials, in a collaboration with her children, Theo and Hannah, keeping the partnership as a permanent strategy in her poetics.

The set is not entirely literal. There are more universal representations, such as “The Military”, incarnated as a green dragon, and more explicit ones, such as “The outside judge”, a mouse in a black suit with the US flag on one sleeve and bottle cleaners on the other. , a clear allusion to Sergio Moro.

But making people laugh in a moment of misfortune is a blessing and it is through this key that the show escapes being reduced to a chronicle of the current moment. It turns out to be as weird as the perversely caricatured Brazil of 2019.

These deformations reverberate in the other two groups of works that complete the show on the gallery's first floor. the set Damned, Joyful and Devout Tropics brings together four paintings on wood that mix a style of Japanese erotic woodcut, the shunga, with elements of cordel literature. They are works of a pop color _ another of the artist's trademarks is this reference to strong colors _ to talk about a delicate subject: rape as the inaugural mark of miscegenation in Brazil. The space that gathers this series is the anteroom of the Or Alienist, which serves as a kind of archeology of madness, after all, what society created under the sign of violence can remain sane.

In the room with the dolls, there is the set haunted, five patchwork-style paintings on fabric, where she mixes images and words given by children who participated in preparatory workshops for the show the name of fear, at the Museu de Arte do Rio, in 2017. Again, Neuenschwander adds another layer to the madness, since the fears addressed here are the least childish possible: stray bullets, hunger, rape, pointing again to an absolutely sick society.

Em Or Alienist, Neuenschwander seems to use lightness, beauty and fun as a gateway to reveal the sick culture that has settled in the country: fascist, violent and ignorant.

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