Silas Martí

  • diary November 13, 2018

    Paint It Red

    THE STAINS WERE HARD TO CLEAN. Even after the crime scene had been cleared, the sidewalk was still a faint bloody red. Days before YAGA—a new festival celebrating São Paulo’s nightlife and queer subcultures—took over the popular downtown club Love Story, Jessica Gonzaga, a trans woman, was murdered just a few blocks away. Witnesses remember her killers shouting far-right President Elect Jair Bolsonaro’s name as she was stabbed to death.

    Emboldened by his victory, Bolsonaro supporters now flood the streets of the country repeating the new president’s homophobic, misogynistic rants. These

  • “Histórias Afro-Atlânticas”

    In the most violent and uncertain times of its recent history, Brazil is revisiting the origins of its racial frictions: the slave trade. “Histórias afro-atlânticas” (Afro-Atlantic Histories) is a massive, 380-work survey of African, Latin American, and European art from the past five centuries, chronicling the largest diaspora in modern history. Nearly half of all Africans captured by slave traders were brought to Brazil, from the time the Portuguese arrived, in the sixteenth century, all the way through

  • diary October 17, 2016

    Silent Nights

    IN A PACKED GALLERY AT JACARANDA, a new artist-run space in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Lenora de Barros kicked off a string of openings and parties surrounding the sixth edition of ArtRio with a performance in which she nailed paper letters forming the word silence to a wall. Her very loud action spells out the very absence of sound, a noisy and visual translation of the bizarre state of affairs in this city still in financial hangover from the Olympic Games. The sporting event that ended over a month ago left indelible marks in urban planning here, some of it now resembling scar tissue outlining

  • diary September 09, 2016

    Uncertain States

    THE STREETS HADN’T YET BEEN CLEARED OF RUBBLE, leftovers of the protests that shook the city like an earthquake the past few days, when galleries teamed up to launch nearly forty parallel exhibitions to the Thirty-Second Bienal de São Paulo, which opened this week in tumultuous fashion. Despite barricades, fires still raging in the middle of main traffic arteries, and the acrid scent of tear gas hanging in the air, dealers arranged a marathon of openings for the weekend. In town for Bienal season, artsy types from all over the world braved the chaos to catch a glimpse of exhibitions set up in

  • picks September 06, 2016

    Lucas Arruda

    First, darkness sets in. Then, white rectangles of light slowly emerge on the walls, like windows looking out on a blank landscape. As the lights come back on, these luminous intervals start to blend in with the color of the walls until they disappear altogether. At the entrance to Lucas Arruda’s show is a new installation anchored on a cyclical experience of dawn and dusk, harking back to the ancestral idea of painting as a framed mirror of the world.

    Arruda’s world is devoid of human presence and architecture—empty like his spectral landscapes. His is a deep study of atmosphere, of nothingness.

  • picks May 17, 2016

    Mateo López

    As one walks into the dark gallery, Luisa Strina’s old Oscar Freire Street space now reactivated for this show, it’s hard not to look at the golden mask shimmering under a faint spotlight. Mateo López placed it there like a jewel or an ancient artifact that takes on the form of a ghostly presence, floating in space. In a way, most of the other works in this solo show, especially those in this dimly lit chamber, seem to be charged with a different energy, not just motionless sculptural fragments presented for contemplation.

    Time and memory are fused here in what López understands as an intimate

  • picks May 16, 2016

    Willys de Castro

    The work of Willys de Castro is less silent than we assume. Sparsely hung with only two or three artworks in each of the exhibition’s four rooms, the Neo-concrete artist’s latest solo show gives his “Objeto Ativo” (Active Object) series, 1959-1962, enough space to breathe. Some of his most famous and influential pieces are on display, and the slender pieces of wood covered in geometric patterns engage with poems by the artist—many unknown until now—that are shown alongside the works.

    Lado a Lado,” Portuguese for “side by side,” is the title of one such poem and also the name of the exhibition.

  • diary September 08, 2014

    Slow Burn

    IF THE HUSTLE AT PARTIES and the hypnotic glut of Instagram are trustworthy barometers, then the opening week of the Thirty-First Bienal de São Paulo was noticeably slower, less lavish, and less aggressive in its social engagements than any in recent memory.

    Indeed, things seemed a little too quiet in the days leading up to the inauguration. But then on August 28, artists in the show, titled “How to (…) things that don’t exist,” launched an open letter protesting Israeli financial support of the biennial, which some participants, like Tony Shakar and the duo Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme,

  • diary September 21, 2013

    Weather or Not

    IT WAS A BRIGHT, scorching day in Porto Alegre. The sun was high in the cloudless sky, no wind. You could have fried an egg on the pavement—nothing like the wintry feel the southernmost capital city in Brazil usually boasts this time of year. It was last Wednesday, and Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, the Mexican curator in charge of the ninth installment of the Bienal do Mercosul, was piling into a helicopter with a photographer and curator Raimundas Malasauskas. She wanted to get a bird’s-eye view of Aleksandra Mir’s “secret” work: a pile of garbage made to look like a satellite fallen from the sky,