São Paulo

Eduardo Navarro, Instant Weather Prediction, 2019. Performance view, June 15, 2019. Photo: Erika Mayumi.

Eduardo Navarro, Instant Weather Prediction, 2019. Performance view, June 15, 2019. Photo: Erika Mayumi.

Eduardo Navarro

There’s something phantasmagoric about garments hanging on display without any bodies to fill them. In the Argentinean artist Eduardo Navarro’s “Instant Weather Prediction,” white outfits hemmed in silver, resembling rudimentary three-piece space suits, were exhibited in small groups throughout Pivô’s concrete-clad exhibition spaces, which were designed by Oscar Niemeyer to complement the exterior of the institution’s home, the iconic S-shaped Copan Building in São Paulo. Navarro’s outfits were displayed spread-eagled on abstract wire mannequin-like structures; each nylon muumuu had two large holes on either side and was crowned by a cloth hood and a headdress in the shape of a horizontal cone.

As a project, Instant Weather Prediction, 2019, comprises more than just this show; it encompasses the artist’s wider research on the relations between natural phenomena and human experience. For the works on view here, commissioned by Pivô, Navarro was inspired by the wind gusts that travel the corridors and spaces of the Copan Building to create wearable “meteorological stations” that could help connect people with their surroundings, not least with the breezes they encounter. The headdresses were modeled on wind socks, the Portuguese term for which is birutas, which also means “crazy people.”

The choreographer Zélia Monteiro designed a series of movements or “activations,” as Navarro refers to them, that were performed by a group of dancers wearing the garments during the opening and closing of the exhibition. At the finissage, the performance consisted of a sort of round-trip pilgrimage from Pivô through downtown São Paulo to the elevated highway known as the Minhocão (Big Worm)—which is closed to car traffic on the weekends—and back. The entire journey took about an hour and a half, highlighting the work’s relation to the city and revealing different ways in which the garments reacted to the invisible touch of the air around them and to subtle changes in movement and context. Viewers followed along, chaperoning the dancers, who walked in single file like birutas on a mission. People riding bikes, jogging, walking dogs, playing instruments, talking, or looking down from apartment windows witnessed and reacted to the performance, also becoming a part of it. Up on the Minhocão, the figures, topped by their wind socks, looked from afar like a dotted line with the city behind them.

Of course, it is impossible in Brazil to experience a performance such as this and not think of Hélio Oiticica’s Parangolés—the colorful wearables inspired by and activated in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas in the mid-1960s. In its very different setting, Navarro’s Instant Weather Prediction addressed the rigidity of São Paulo’s concrete, making it fluid, as Niemeyer’s Copan curves do. Navarro’s work was perhaps most successful not so much in registering the fantastical effects of wind and air, but as allegory—that is, in the work’s suggestion of a possible means of gauging the social climate. The performance called attention to the connection between people, nature, architecture, and experience in the charged setting of downtown São Paulo, where people, discourses, and the immediate environment change as unpredictably as the weather.