Rio de Janeiro

View of “Cinthia Marcelle,” 2013. From left: Temporário, 2013; Temporário, 2013; Temporário, 2011; Temporário, 2013.

View of “Cinthia Marcelle,” 2013. From left: Temporário, 2013; Temporário, 2013; Temporário, 2011; Temporário, 2013.

Cinthia Marcelle

Centro Cultural Banco Do Brasil

View of “Cinthia Marcelle,” 2013. From left: Temporário, 2013; Temporário, 2013; Temporário, 2011; Temporário, 2013.

Cinthia Marcelle is a young Brazilian artist who has gained international recognition in the past few years (she won the Future Generation Art Prize in 2010). If there are connections to be drawn between her work and that of her contemporaries, one can think of Renata Lucas and the way she plays with institutional and architectural settings. Marcelle’s attention is directed more to the object itself, although she also explores its contexts. In working with these objects, as well as photography, installation, video, and performance, Marcelle achieves a wide scope for experimentation, and at times her solo exhibitions can appear more like tightly curated group shows. For all the variety of her works, key ideas tie them together, and she seems to be pointing to different directions that she may yet investigate further. Thus, at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Marcelle revisited a concept she has worked with before and transformed it into a larger, more complex configuration.

The starting point was Temporário, 2011, a glass and aluminum vitrine installed on a wall, lit from inside, with paper placed behind the glass. The piece was conceived at the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2008. Crisis itself, as a notion, intrigues the artist (the word came up in the exhibition wall text), and that first vitrine evoked not only failed and shuttered businesses but also, on a metalinguistic level, lack of content, meaning, and narrative—empty containers as pure signifiers, albeit in crisis. One might think of the Brazilian leitmotif epitomized by the motto “Da adversidade vivemos” (Of adversity we live), which appears in Parangolé P16 Cape 12, one of Hélio Oiticica’s capes of 1964. Yet it is interesting to consider how the notion of crisis has evolved in the succeeding decades, and how the empty vitrine reappears, now in multiple versions.

At CCBB, the cultural center sponsored by the largest bank in the Southern Hemisphere, and the government bank of the country that boasts one of the most heated art markets in the emerging world, the notion of crisis might seem abstract, distant, perhaps even ironic, if not nostalgic. In this context, Marcelle has taken her original single vitrine and multiplied it into ten—six individual works and two diptychs (made between 2011 and 2013), each titled Temporário, covered in cheap pink, white, or brown paper. Well trained in constructivist idioms, like many of her compatriots, Marcelle nods toward geometric abstraction in her careful placement of the paper behind the glass as well as in the overall installation—the colorful vitrines here were framed by white walls, a green carpet, and a black ceiling, conjuring a fine room full of constructivist installation. The result is a highly aestheticized and abstracted representation of crisis, taking as its inspiration the adversity of a global cataclysm that, as is well known, hardly hit Brazil.

Playing on a small monitor placed on a table, the video Automóvel (Automobile), 2012, shows cars driving on a two-way street, later caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and afterward broken down or out of gas and being pushed along; as night falls, we see blinking car lights and hear the delicate sounds they emit. The lack of content, meaning, and narrative found in the abstract, empty vitrines is now associated with the lack of fuel, demanding extra effort from the drivers in this new, fictitious, depleted, dark context. Perhaps the real crisis evoked here lies deeper, hidden by the luster of the art scene and the newfound success of a country teeming with remarkable opportunities but burdened by pressing demands and inequalities. Saudades da adversidade: One longs for a bygone adversity.

Adriano Pedrosa