São Paulo

Regina Silveira

Galeria Brito Cimino

Regina Silveira transformed Galeria Brito Cimino into a strange temple. Silveira, one of the most respected figures in contemporary Brazilian art, did not exhibit a group of discrete works but instead opted for a unique installation built on the concept of plagues, from the biblical to the contemporary. In the various rooms and passageways of the gallery, the viewer encountered striking images composed of various elements: embroidered carpets, painted porcelain, furniture covered with decals suggesting gigantic shadows, and even niches where one could hear sounds of insects of various species. Silveira named her installation-exhibition “Mundus Admirabilis e Outras Pragas” (Astonishing World and Other Plagues), clearly alluding to the biblical plagues described in the book of Exodus. A taste of foreboding hovered in the air, as if that epic tale held the key to a future marked by ruins resulting from our abuse of nature and excessive consumption.

It is worth recalling here the early career of the artist, who was born in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and subsequently moved to São Paulo; in the late 1970s, she began producing a body of work based on altered perspectives and the projection of shadows that distorted objects, engendering critical reflections through deformity. As if attempting an archaeology of all things, Silveira’s visual deconstructions seemed to tell the hidden stories of objects, the political and ideological aspects invisible in their everyday appearance.

More recently, the artist has expanded her conceptual domain, creating projects for various museums and cultural institutions in Brazil and abroad. Each project is envisioned specifically for one of these venues and, in its processes and results, subverts our sense of space and our perception of its forms. In this recent exhibition dark adhesive vinyl images of gigantic insects formed a panorama of an infested world, evoking an allegory of evil. In the gallery’s entry room, mixed images of several types of noxious animals (toads, snakes, centipedes, mosquitoes) were affixed on black plastic to the walls and floor. The insects appeared as well on an embroidered towel, part of the installation Rerum Naturae (Natural Objects), 2007–2008. There was also a large black egg, Fabula, 2008, next to the wall, serving as a speaker; approaching it, one could hear the sound of mosquitoes and helicopters.

Upstairs, one saw the complete Rerum Naturae installation, with a table laid out with plates, soup dishes, cups, teapots, glasses, and a sugar bowl—an entire set of white porcelain contaminated with insects, painted atop one another. In the next space was Infernus, 2008, a kind of wooden well housing a video that shows continuously dripping drops of blood, an image immediately evoking the biblical Exodus. Further on, in another room, a sword hanging on the wall produced a deformed shadow, projecting the image of a missile. Next to it was Per Capita (para Miguel Angel Rojas), 2008, a cylinder generating the sound of gunshots, alternating with a flashing light—presumably an allusion to the plague of hail. In this show, images of vermin became visual incarnations of the deterioration and menace threatened by the plagues of the contemporary world.

Katia Canton

Translated from Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers.