Since 1993, Maurício Dias (Rio de Janeiro, 1964) and Walter Riedweg (Lucerne, 1955) work together on art projects that investigate how private psychologies affect public space and vice versa. These projects have as main characteristic the fact that they engage the public in the preparation of each work, a procedure that established the work of Dias & Riedweg as a pioneer of a new public art in the contemporary art scene.
The second solo show of Dias & Riedweg at Galeria Vermelho features a selection of works that reflect eight decades of our recent history.
The video installation Cold Stories (2011), features over 600 video files taken from the internet that feature images from the Cold War years, 1944 up to the present day. The work reffers to the fragmented memories of the artists growing up in front of TV during the 60s and 70s. The dizzying edition of the video includes images of TV series and advertisement that propagated the invention of domestic comfort in addition to speeches, political and historical events, images of conflict and war. These images appear in colored circles that grow and explode like soap bubbles. The video installation also introduces four old travel chests, each one containing a marionette of a notorious character of the Cold War years, such as Che Guevara, Mao Tse-Tung, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, and TV monitors featuring the videos of these puppets’ animation with excerpts from their most iconic speechs.
As in the slot of a nikkel-hunter machine, another four-channel video installation, called "Chapa Quente" (Hot Coals, 2014), screens objects used by police, such as helmets, batons, pistols and tear gas among archive images of the protests that shook Brazil in June and July 2013, as well as records of the Brazilian dictatorship years, among diverse images of natural phenomena of great intensity, such as volcanic eruptions and geysers, landslides and tsunamis. Acompainning the video installation Hot Coals, there is a series of nine new back-light photographs mixing archive pictures of these 2013 riots with Dias & Riedweg’s own x-ray shots altered by engraving drawings done by Mauricio Dias.
In “Sob pressão” (Under Pressure, 2014), thirty barometers, lined up on the wall, scientifically show the atmospheric pression of the exhibition space but viewers may notice a discrete graphic intervention with the name of Rio's favelas, such as Maré, Mangueira, Rocinha, Alemão, Fogueteiro, Cidade de Deus, among the scales that normally just reveal the weather conditions for navigation.
In "Evidência" (Evidence, 2014), a three-meter long thermometer equally marks the ambient temperature, but in its range between minus 40 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees above zero, viewers also see the years from1944 through 2024, attesting how temperature may subjectively arise throughout the decades.
Created in 2004, the video "Throw" was originally commissioned for the collection of Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki. Dias & Riedweg invited passersby to directly throw a diversity of objects into the eye of the camera. The gesture of people throwing items such as eggs, paint, stones, books, shoes, dig shit and flowers into the camera gained greater power in the effect of slow motion and the inclusion of images of political events that happened in Finland during the 20th century. After the German philosopher Pieter Sloterdijk (1947), in his book “Spheren III”, the act of throwing something marks a significant difference in the history of Homo Sapiens. "When primitive man learned to throw things, he initiated the idea of long-distance communication”. In a way, the artists add that “this same gesture remains as a communication tool and social protest”.
Another installation called “Blocão” (Big Bloc), which was created in 2014 in collaboration with art critic Gloria Ferreira and artist Juliana Ferreira, will occupy the frontal facade of the gallery. It features a selection of 80 different phrases said or published by politicians and media personalities repeated on a 30’000-sheet notebook. The public will be invited to choose a sentence to take away.
A last group of works created between 2010 and 2012, and gathered by the artists under the title “Pequenas histórias de modéstia e dúvida” (Little stories of Modesty and Doubt) complete the exhibition. Three synchronized back-projections fall over three big glass surfaces that hang free from the ceilings of the upper floor gallery space, to reveal daily scenes of life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the artists’ hometown. The elegant and unique process of edition reinveted by Dias & Riedweg for these series of videos, added to the soundtrack of piano compositions written by Walter Riedweg, fully contradict the current expectations of vulgarity and violence created by the news about these communities and surprise viewers with a genuine atmosphere of joy and freedom, that deprive from the modest, but sincere, context of life in the slums.
About the artists
Mauricio Dias, born in Rio de Janeiro, 1964, studied at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, and later at Schule fuer Gestaltung Basel, Switzerland and at The Printmaking Workshop of New York City. Walter Riedweg, born in Luzern, Switzerland, 1955, studied at Musik-Akademie Luzern, at Scuola di Teatro Dimitri, Verscio, Switzerland and later integrated Richard Schechner’s workshops at The Performance Studies Departement of The New York University. Since 1993, Dias & Riedweg work together, using their respective former experiences in visual arts and performance in collaborative interdisciplinary public art projects. Collections (selection): Centre Georges Pompidou, MACBA, MOCA, Kiasma, Kunstmuseum Bern, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR), Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro and in Bahia, as well as Museu de Arte Moderna de Lisboa. Prizes (selection): Guggenheim Foundation, Fundação Vitae and Video Brasil (São Paulo), and Pro-Helvetia. Solo Shows (Selection) : Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), Espace Le Plateau (Paris), Americas Society (New York); Museum of Art of Lucerne, Switzerland, Instituto Tomie Ohtake (São Paulo), and Museu de Arte Contemporânea do México (MUAC).
Groups Shows (Selection): Documenta 12 (2007), Venice Biennial (1999), Bienal de São Paulo (1998, 2000 and 2002), Biennials of: Istambul (1998), Havana and Mercosul (2003), Liverpool and Shangai (2004), Gwangju (2006), as well as “Conversations at the Castle”, curated by Mary Jane Jacob and Homi Bhabha, in Atlanta (1996), and “L’État des Choses”, curated by Catherine David, at Kunst-Werke, Berlin (2001).
The exhibition will be held from 17 to 20 December, 2014 and from 12 January to 21 February, 2015.