Rochelle Costi: Verdadeiras Ilusões
Verdadeiras Ilusões is the title of the new exposition of works by Rochelle Costi at Galeria Brito Cimino. This is the first time the artist shows solo in São Paulo after her appearance in the 24th São Paulo Biennial, in 1998, at which time she held a solo exhibition at Galeria Brito Cimino, in its old location. Ever since then, Rochelle Costi has worked on a few new photo series and shown in biennials that include Mercosur (1999), Pontevedra and Havana (both in 2000); in group exhibitions such as Ultra-Baroque(MAC, San Diego, 2000, followed by an extended tour of the United States), Versiones del Sur: Más allá del documento (Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2000), The thread unraveled (Museo del Barrio, New York, 2001), and in solo renditions in Mexico City and Madrid.
The artist has been developing her research on spontaneous aesthetic forms spotted in her observation of customs and mores of ordinary citizens in large cities. Thus, Rochelle Costi reveals the means and forms to which people resort, through sensibility, to sidestep anonymity and the sameness of mass identity, and to establish the singularity of their beings. In her work, Costi focuses individual traits–taste, habits, representations–of anonymous workers captured in their homes and in their everyday activities. However, if the artist’s previous works addressed secluded spaces and people’s privacy, as for example in the series Quartos (Bedrooms), Pratos Típicos (Typical Dishes), Mãos de Ouro (Golden Hands), in the series now on display she makes personal interventions in the cityscape, while acknowledging the presence of individuals, arbitrariness, economy and subjectivity in anonymous streets and other public venues, the new series features the informal architecture of houses and other buildings that render individual expressions in contemporary city space.
Rochelle Costi’s Casas Cegas (Blind Houses) are uninhabited properties that owners sought to secure from trespass by sealing their windows and doors with bricks and cement. The once residential space is now empty, sterile, and cast in total darkness–in other words, a lifeless place. Nothing inhabits those places except a memory imprisoned in gloomy forgetfulness. These works raise issues regarding the value and the use of property, its economic and social meaning, and the ethics of ownership. Perhaps these houses will go unnoticed to passersby; yet, they exist as silent landmarks of a loss, of a calculated abandonment, and of the arbitrariness in movements, flows and interests that inform the constitution and transformation of the cityscape.
In her informal architecture series, Rochelle Costi shows “houses” built from recycled scrap that tell different things about their creators. They are ephemeral sculptures built practically from nothing. They do not exist from the legal viewpoint, but they meet the needs of their respective builders. Notwithstanding the difficulties inherent in the construction, this needy architecture gives proof to ingeniousness and creativity.
The largest work here on display–“Untitled” (440 x 560 cm)–serves as central axis for the other works at the exhibition. The photo shows an idyllic, nearly unreal scene that is immediately linked to the image of a dream of consumption, as in scenes taken from real estate ads or from an ordinary calendar, which is in itself another reference in the construction of a folk imaginary. Despite it being real, the scene evokes a desired and yet seemingly unreachable venue. The nostalgic connotation of this image is further stressed by the artist’s strategy of positioning taking the photo from a child’s eye level. The location is a small farm at Caxias do Sul, a city in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, where the artist was born and raised as a child.
A photo to which Rochelle Costi refers as “enigma” is on display in the gallery mezzanine. The picture shows a rock emerging from the sand, having the vast ocean in the background. This work closes the exhibition as an ambiguous scene of enigmatic meaning–a nearly fiction-like defamiliarization in contrast with the realism of other images. It is presented as a provocation, due to its veracity, at a time when the practice of photography seems doomed to becoming a product of digital imaging software, i.e., completely virtual. To Costi, reality appears to be much more interesting and surprising.
During the exhibition a catalog organized by curator and critic Ivo Mesquita will be released that features the work of Rochelle Costi.
28.08.2003 to 24.09.2003
tuesday - friday, from 10 AM to 7 PM
saturday, from 11 AM to 5 PM