Galeria Nara Roesler | New York is pleased to present While you laugh/Enquanto Você Ri, an exhibition of recent photographs and videos by Berna Reale. Centered on Bi, a non-binary character she created, the exhibition is the artist’s second with the Gallery as well as her New York debut.
In her performances and installations, Berna Reale engages either her own body or those of willing participants to reflect on the contemporary sociopolitical moment. Reale is particularly interested in the violence that permeates Brazil and seeks to urge viewers to confront this in the public sphere. In one of her earliest works, the intervention Cerne [core] of 2005, photographs of human organs taken in a morgue were strategically installed in the meat market of the Ver-o-Peso in Belém, a traditional market bustling with tourists and local shoppers. This experience led the artist to enroll in a police academy to train as a forensics expert, and since 2010, she has maintained an alternate career working at the Renato Chaves Center of Forensic Sciences in Belém, In the last decade her production has been mainly focused on performances denouncing social injustice. These works are documented in photographs and videos based on recordings of her actions. For her 2014 performance Rosa púrpura [purple pink], Reale hired a group of women to parade around her hometown in schoolgirl outfits and with exaggerated lip ornaments to evoke inflatable sex dolls. She filmed the event, documented the women’s experiences online, and circulated images on fliers to engender a conversation around the fetishization of and violence enacted against women.
Reale’s latest creation is Bi, a character she portrays in a head-to-toe pink bodysuit with enlarged foam breasts and testicles. Bi’s dissident body appears in photographs and Brazilian funk music videos posted to youtube and on Bi’s own Instagram account. Exhibition curator Claudia Calirman writes: “Through her carefully constructed non-binary character Bi, Reale challenges prejudice and discrimination. Addressing underprivileged and marginalized victims of the violence permeated in daily life, be it physical or psychological, Bi depicts society’s systematic exclusion of the already excluded. Reale’s work is forceful, raw, and blunt, as she exposes in playful but radical ways diverse forms of the injustices inflicted by savage capitalism, police brutality, militias, and hate crimes.” In Your Molds Don’t Fit Me (Seus moldes não me servem), Calirman continues, “Bi sits on a golden chair surrounded by empty hangers, alluding to the ubiquitous obsession with appearance and consumerism within capitalist structures, a fixation that is constantly fulfilled by the silent exploitation of invisible cheap labor. In another photo, Bi exercises with dumbbells imprinted with images of the globe, referencing the burdensome efforts required to fit into normative society.”