Galeria Vermelho is hosting the group show Aprendendo a Viver com a Sujeira [Learning to Live with the Filth] from May 14 through June 6, 2015. The exhibition features works by André Komatsu, Keila Alaver, Lia Chaia, Marcelo Cidade and Nicolás Robbio.
The members of this group have a lot in common. Besides being close friends, they talk with one another on a regular basis, since they all shared the same studio in São Paulo’s Belenzinho District. The choice of this district is significant insofar as it has played an essential role in the city’s history. The process of industrialization that made São Paulo State a hub of manufacturing began there, with glass and textile factories. It was also the location of the historical Vila Maria Zélia, the first worker’s villa in Brazil. The set of houses and the factory that make up the villa were built by Jorge Luis Street, between 1912 in 1916, to hold the Companhia Nacional de Tecidos de Juta [National Jute Fabrics Company] and dwellings for its workers. In 1931, the factory and villa were transferred to the federal government, which converted the industrial park into a prison for the Estado Novo [New State]. Since many political prisoners, including leftist intellectuals, were held there, the prison came to be nicknamed Universidade Maria Zélia [Maria Zélia University]. It is noteworthy how the same district has constituted different faces of the city of São Paulo’s progressivist process: spanning from the beginning of large-scale production, which ushered in a boom of wealth and urban growth, to the detention of political prisoners during a military dictatorship. These paths are linked with trends of the modernist movements, whose agendas included the investigation of mechanics aimed at forming a strong national identity.
It is not by chance, therefore, that the outlook of these artists is focused on the observation and criticism of different characteristics of social development. And there is a reason why they have settled their practice in a region strongly marked by our society’s history. Perhaps the common poetic thread of these five artists is their intense awareness and observation of their surroundings. Some of them investigate and criticize the development of our state through formative characteristics, while others challenge us to look at seemingly insignificant everyday things that turn out to be structurally complex.
The focus on these issues can possibly generate a poetics that is not necessarily articulated around an aesthetic delight, but rather finds the beauty in commonplace, discarded objects that are appropriated and re-signified, and which bear traces of their place of origin. It is perhaps a response to the modernist sterility, a formative element of our identity, which leads their works to deal with filth. But we are not (necessarily) talking about a grimy sort of filth, but rather a clever artifice that is instated atop everyday situations, which can allow us to understand an aspect of the world in another way. A vile act that qualifies or “dis-(re)qualifies” the routine of art or of life.