In his seventh solo exhibition at Vermelho, Marcelo Cidade proposes a counter point to his previous solo show in the gallery. If in 2016, in Nulo, ou em branco (Null or Blank), one of the artist’s main research themes was 'social architecture' – an architecture committed to human life, aimed at a greater connection with the reality of the individual and the space the individual dwells - in Debts, divisors and dividends his focus is directed toward 'hostile architecture' in two groups of new works.
The term 'hostile architecture' was coined by Ben Quinn in a 2014 article in the British newspaper The Guardian. The article "Anti-homeless spikes are part of a broader phenomenon of 'hostile architecture' " discussed how the influence of new design features used in urban centers promoting a sanitized occupation of cities is an attempt to exclude poor people.
In Escala disciplinar [Disciplinary Scale], 2019, Marcelo Cidade uses the anti-homeless spikes as part of a typological research on the methods of 'hostile architecture'. Departing from the average height of a Brazilian, Cidade organizes a collection of these devices with reference to the traditional cuts (or views) presented in architectural studies: frontal view, side view and detail. By uniting the human-scale design language with the 'hostile architecture' devices, Cidade confronts the viewer – in human scale – with the dysfunctional structures. According to the artist: "I have noticed the use of these elements in different cities and I am more and more intrigued by the duality between function and dysfunction in the main purpose of this architecture that generates the exclusion of the human body in relation to the public space."
Another way of understanding how the concept of progress has influenced architecture came when the modernist building where the artist lives had its hydraulic overhang replaced. The entire corroded channels hidden in the beams to control the drainage of the sewer was plucked from the structure of the building to be replaced by PVC pipes, considered more modern. Contrary to what happens in part of European buildings, the pipes in Brazil - and especially in the modernist architecture, which, as a rule, avoids adornments or supplementary elements in their purist designs - are camouflaged in the architecture, causing a great waste production and expenses when some kind of repair in these elements is necessary.
Marcelo Cidade collected the pieces of corroded pipes and turned them into Structural Reflux, 2019, in a comparative exercise with the theoretically more advanced PVC pipes. On a concrete block structure, Cidade contrasts the two seemingly mis-matched materials. An attentive glance, however, will notice the latches made by the mallets in the iron pipes carefully reproduced in the PVC pipes. It is this gesture, which uses a series of traditional procedures from the arts, such as frottage (used to transfer the iron marks to PVC) and the notch (used in reproduction itself), which draws attention to the parallelism proposed by the work.
If the iron pipe has been considered the most efficient in a given period of history, today its disadvantages are clear. However, modern PVC pipes do not seem like a great qualitative leap when considering the sustainable development of an efficient sanitation network. Although the use of this material presents advantages such as low electrical conductivity, low comparative weight, ease of handling, low accumulation of debris and low cost of acquisition, its disadvantages are known from the beginning of its use: low thermal and mechanical resistance, elimination of toxic fumes and gases and the lack of information on their long-term performance. In addition, PVC is a petroleum derivative and the malfunctions of that material are widely known. In addition to the various neurotoxins present in the material, their flammable properties and the pollution generated by their extraction and processing is well documented. The human cost related to fossil fuels is high: considering their ample capacity to produce goods and riches, fossil fuels are the object of numerous political confrontations and wars. Thus, it becomes clear that a structural conflict is inherent in in the constructions we inhabit by way of the devices that transport one of the most essential elements to man, water.
Marcelo Cidade (1979) lives and works in São Paulo. Cidade has had his work exhibited in institutions and international exhibitions such as the Serralves Foundation (Porto, Portugal, 2018), Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France, 2018), Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit [MOCAD]; Museum of Art of São Paulo [MASP] (São Paulo, Brazil, 2017); Museum Beelden aan Zee (Den Haag, The Netherlands, 2016); Bronx Museum (New York, USA, 2015); Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH, USA, 2014); the 8th Mercosur Biennial (Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2011); Lisbon Architecture Triennial (Lisbon, Portugal, 2010); XIV International Sculpture Biennale of Carrara (Carrara, Italy, 2010); and, the 27th São Paulo Biennial (São Paulo, Brazil, 2006).
His work is included in collections such as Phoenix Art Museum (USA), Serralves Foundation (Portugal), Tate Modern (UK) Kadist Art Foundation (France), Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo (Mexico) and Bronx Museum (USA).