Day Twenty – Two – Sao Paulo

I used the first part of the day today to write on this blog. I was a couple of days behind and wanted to register the missing days. For some reason, I found it very important to write regularly. For me it is a bit like a diary (from Latin diarium, from dies ‘day’). Normally a diary is private, sometimes even secrete, reflections about one’s life including both experiences and thoughts. Keeping a daily record privately It is not only a notebook reminding us what happened which day. Writing alone and being the only receiver of the message, has some poetic connotations. There is an intimate process happening between the diary and the writer. Most of the time the diaries are written in the evening, before going to bed. It can for some people become a ritual that can be compared to the good- night prayer

Normally a diary is private, sometimes even secret, reflections about one’s life including both experiences and thoughts. Keeping a daily record privately It is not only a notebook reminding us what happened which day. Writing alone and being the only receiver of the message, has some poetic connotations too. There is an intimate process happening between the diary and the writer. Most of the time the diaries are written in the evening, before going to bed. It can for some people become a ritual that can be compared to the good- night prayer

But what happens when a diary-like text is posted publicly on a blog like this one?

It is no longer just a private text but also a public expression. Other people can read what I write, and some might even choose to follow my writing. Knowing this gives another perspective on the text I’m writing. It gives me stimulation too.

I think the concept of a blog comes from sailing. The sailors will daily make a report with a regular or systematic record of incidents or observations. A logbook captures events during the voyage of a ship, and they are very useful for traditional navigation of a ship. It is an essential tool and must be filled in at least daily.

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This is a text and image from Captain Cook (1775) from South Atlantic, where he mentions the abundance of penguins and whales. An information that is today used for climate chang studies. 

The connection with a blog and a sailing logbook is interesting because there are other water- and sea- related expressions when we talk about the internet. Like surfing on the internet or streaming information. So we could say that to have an online blog is a way to keep the track and direction in the sea of information.

To write every day is also a good training. I see it as technical training for writing as well as training for putting some thoughts in words.

When I decided to write a small text every day during the trip to Brazil I had an idea that my reflections and thoughts could be interconnected. If I look back to my daily registrations, I should be able to trace down some “red lines”. These red lines could reveal some fields of interest that I was not aware of to start with.

Of course, the texts I write are too short and underdeveloped to have the value of a serious theoric reflection. Still they make it possible for me to initiate some thoughts that later on could be developed further. If we don’t take the immediate reflections serious, we might overlook the potential some of them might have. When I get back to Copenhagen, I can look at my blog as a collection of daily registrations in words. I can filtrate the most interesting thoughts, and I can try to make a new body of text.

It is beautiful if a diary blog becomes a way of sharing thoughts; Even thoughts that are not yet completely polished or articulated. It is a declaration of trust and transparency. The streaming method of daily writing and posting might have its own delicate values that go beyond the information it provides.

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Day Twenty-one – São Paulo

Making plans is an activity that most of the people do, more or less and differnet ways depending on their culture, work and personality. Today we talked a lot about planning and commitment.

I’m not so good at making plans. I have a tendency to see plans as limitations for spontaneous movement and development. Plans create to-do-lists that turn our actions into tasks. But maybe I’m wrong and maybe my idea of absolute freedom is naïve.

Maybe making a plan in order to be able to decide not to follow them, can also give a feeling of freedom and power.

The notion of time is again relevant. Projecting into the future is connected to the present mood as well as to reflection on the past. The experiences from the past can become bricks in the construction of the future plans, but the mortar to bind the bricks is connected to the present disposition. So being in the now and having the right energy is vital for planning the future. This energy might be connected or stimulated by “looking forward to something”. To anticipate with eagerness something in the future can be the energy generator that brings us forward.

Maybe the plans should not be used to make the future more predictable but rather to make the future closer to the present.

For a year ago we came to Sao Paulo for the first time. Through our friend Décio we meet with nice people from Galleri Emma Thomas. We wanted to come back and do a project together, so we made plans. Now one year later we are again in Sao Paulo realizing the projected idea. Maybe there is some magic in the logic of planning.

Today we had a final dinner with the team before the Carnaval.

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Day Twenty – São Paulo

Today was a day of less conceptual thinking and more visual analysis. The photographer sent us pictures of Thierry’s artworks in the exhibition, and we were looking at them close up. Zooming in, zooming out, comparing colors and checking the shadow-light balance.

I found it very inspiring to look at the form of each artwork and to focus on its visual qualities. Most of the time Thierry’s artworks carry an important message or information. That would often be the first thing we as viewers register. Sometimes even the only think.

But today we had a chance dwell over the small details in the artworks that normally get overlooked and neglected.

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The zooming in on the artwork made on a traffic sign reveals different details showing the texture, different layers, traces with information about the object as well as graphic details such as Strikethrough in the text.

 

The artwork done on the stone and with white cotton fabric also shows some beautiful textures.

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The contrast between soft fabric and the hard stone is really coming to light. And we can also see how absorbed red marker has been absorbed in the white fabric. It makes me thing about blood and bandage, which responds well to the connotation of the stone being a pavé historically used in revolutions.

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The wooden board with a remarkable red color becomes almost an abstract painting when we isolate the details.

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The combination of materials and colors can also bee seen in the carton artworks with different kinds of paper.

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The cleanness in the presentation of the artwork changes the focus of the viewer. Just like frames.

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Day Nineteen – São Paulo

Since we came to Sao Paulo for more than two weeks ago, Thierry, has been registering and observing the situation around the world from Sao Paulo and expressing about it daily. Today we have invited artists from Sao Paulo to exhibit together with Thierry. The artists were invited to produce and exhibit artworks the same day and to reflect about the now-emergencies.

Following artists participated: Jac Leirner, Carla Chaim, Artur Lescher, Daniel Lie, Bel Falleiros, Flavia Mielnik, Amaury Santos, Laura Gorski, Ícaro Lira, Renata Cruz, Bruno Galan, Alessandra Duarte, Peter de Brito, André Gomes, Lucas Simões, Raquel Kogan and Lea van Steen.

The artists represent different generations and different artistic styles. There is a good “biodiversity” in the group.

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We were very curious to see what the artists would bring and how they would balance between what they normally do and the new challenge of producing fast looking at emergencies.

I could see two tendencies and two main groups of artists.

One group was pointing a finger on specific issues such as mosquito Zika virus and the fumigation, the police violence and killing, new Danish law allowing seizing assets from refugees, freedom of speech and media manipulation, homophobia, etc. These artworks were connected to the spirit of emergency art because there were communicating about actual problems that need to be expressed about today.

The other group was more reflecting on the process of doing artwork in a day or on the way we receive daily information. Some used a diary-format registering the movements and activates of the day and others collected things from the street the same day. There were also some reflections on how to grab the moment in a passing time and shorten the process from inspiration to expression. Some artists also reflected about the coexistence of different kind of “times”: the time connected to the daily news, the timeframe of one day seen from the space, the time as the natural time process of life and death, etc. This group was less connected to the emergency art and more to the ultracontemporary art in general. (EMERGENCY ART is one of the categories in the ULTRACONTEMPORARY ART)

Even though the contributions were very different, the groups used some similar technics like newspaper cutouts, readymade-like objects and text with statements. It is interesting to observe the formative solutions in this exhibition because they tell us something about the process and speed of production. How did artists find their shortcuts in the process and what is the aesthetic of the shortcut.

The community is another important aspect of this exhibition. After the installation, each artist involved had a chance to explain his or her artwork to the other artists as well as the audience and the press. The strengthening of the community happens when there is a shared space and time. Today Galeri Emma Thomas opened its doors for such a moment to happen. Artists from the gallery network across the age, style and career levels shared the space and time of production today. It was a dynamic and beautiful gathering that we wish to see as a beginning of a bigger movement in art.

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Day Eighteen – Cambury

The street where we live in Cambury is very special. It is the only street in the neighborhood called Areião (the name means big sand).

IMG_8359The combination of the services provided on the street was very interesting. It was a symbolic illustration of the society in the village. There were small shops with different products, a shop selling sanitary and cleaning products, a bakery, a gym, a couple of simple outdoor bars with a billiard table or a TV-screen a tattoo shop and three churches. Three churches. It is remarkably many for one street.

All three churches were small and looked like private famlily hoses with a banner that indicates that it is a church. During the day, all the churches were well visited by well-dressed villagers. They will be singing together all watching a screen with karaoke-like subtitles. In each curche there waould be a leading singer whose voice was put on loudspeakers. Because the churches are so close to each other, the singing voices were competing.

Religion seemed to be a shared social activity in Areião. Suddenly I found myself thinking about the role of religion in the society. Is it only a social and educative tool or is it connected to spirituality?

Religion is based on incorporate public rituals and organized doctrines controlled by an institution while spirituality is more individual and connected to freedom. Because of its comity based activates, the religion is also able to define them and us and create borders. Looking at the people from Areião, I was asking my self, why do they need borders and who is the other. I asked our host what kind of work the villagers were engaged with. He told me that they used to be fishermen but that most of them now work in hotels closer to the beach. The invasion of touristic investments in the local area might be exactly the reason for local people to stick together in local communities and mark the territory. Regular gatherings around religious events are confirming the strength of the community. There is only one kilometer distance between Areião street where local people live and the tourist street Estrada do Camburi where they work, but the difference is big. There is a clear border. And I think this border is connected with fear. Fear of being removed or taken over by the other. The rich people with speculative minds will easily be able to buy more and more of the area in Cambury from the local people. It is necessary for the local people to feel strong together and religion is probably a way to maintain the community strong. It might be a way of protection.

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Day Seventeen – Cambury

Today we spent the whole day on the beach walking from the morning until the sun went down.  We were without a watch only following the time by looking at the sun. It made me think a lot about time and timepass.

For the last two weeks in Sao Paulo, we were working with every day changing exhibitions focusing on art that is produced and exhibited the same day – in the now. In that process, we are constantly dealing with the notion of time and questioning the contemporaneity in art. We call this type of art ultracontemporary; ultra is referring to the artworks’ closeness to the now and the artists’ ability to be produced and exhibited in time. The term ultracontemporary also carries a critique of the contemporary. Contemporary art (in its name con- ‘together with’ + tempus, tempor- ‘time’) claims to be in time, and close to the time we are living in, but often it is not the case. In the exhibition situation, we give artists a timeframe and deadlines for showing up, meeting, delivering, etc. We do this in order to make it possible for them to both catch and express about important issues regarding the everyday changing the world we live in. A clock is an important tool in this process.

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To emphasize the daily deadline for artists is a way of making a cut in time or a rhythm. A rhythm that fits to the beat of the things happening in our society. But when walking on the beach for a whole day, only following the sun, the feeling of timepass is different, even though there still is a clear beginning and the end of the day.

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Being on the beach is without a doubt a different time experience than the mechanic time of a clock. Are there different kinds of time? Different speeds?

In a book I was reading last year “TIME –Documents of Contemporary Art” Giorgio Agamben wrote in his text “What is Contemporary” about different times: “Those who have tried to think about contemporariness have been able to do so only by splitting it into several times, by introducing into time an essential dishomogeneity”

 

Untimely

Being on the beach feels like being in the untimely place, but still with a strong feeling of being in the moment and being present. It is almost meditative. I remember that some of Roland Barthes’ as well as Friedrich Nietzsche’s thinking were connection contemporary and untimely/unhistoric.

 

Time of the now (ho nyn kairos)

What does it rally mean to be in the now and catch the moment? Maybe by following the now or coinciding too well within it, the artist loses the ability to see, to make the interesting syntheses about the now. Maybe the true contemporaneity needs an element of disconnection. Maybe the anachronism (from the Greek ἀνά ana, “against” and χρόνος khronos, “time”) is what can make it possible for artists to grasp the time and express in the now. Maybe an artist that wants to be timely or con-temporary has to be slightly out of jointness with the present. To adhere to the now and at the same time to keep a distance might be the key method for grasping it.

 

Maybe the real moment of magic transformation in the now can only happen if we let the different times/nownesses coexist. Like messianic time, time of the now (ho nyn kairos) including different times in one; Not being completely part of the past nor the future, just a contraction of time in the now – as the only real time. Nowness. Being able to embrace the timepass on the beach and the timepass in the emergency art exhibition changing every day can lead to a curtain kind of transformation of energy as well as new points of view and visions.

 

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Day Sixteen – Cambury

Today we are in Cambury. We decided to leave Sao Paulo for some days during the weekend and the holiday. It is important to make breaks and find time and place for rest in an otherwise very intense process rich with critical observation and expression.

Cambury is a small village close to Boiçucanga. It has one of the many beaches in the municipality of São Sebastião. The nature is beautiful here. There are the sea and the mountains covered with thick green vegetation.

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We stay in a simple house with several other people. The owner of the house borrowed us two old bikes, and we went to the beach.

Arriving at the beach was amazing. The horizon opened up, and the fresh blue color of the sea hit us together with the salty smell and the immersive sound of the waves. The sun was heating up the beach after a rainy night. It felt like the energy spot concentrating beauty, vitality and force.

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And then we started walking down the beach. We discovered that the beach was divided into two parts by a river. It is actually two beaches; Camburi and Camburizinho. To get from one beach to the other, we had to cross the river walking. The river level reached me around the chest. While crossing the river, I came to think about the people who have been crossing the same river before me. I tried to picture this river before the colonization. I imagined that the river must have been a natural border between two villages or groups of people. I also imagined that the river was used for fishing.

We crossed the river couple of times today and after researching a bit about the area, I discovered that both my intuition about the separation between the tribe as well the fishing were right.

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Before the Portuguese arrived to the region was inhabited by two tribes: the Tupinambás to the north and the Tupiniquins to the south. The tribes were separated by Serra de Boiçucanga, and they lived in peace even though they disliked each other. When the French colonialists came confronting with the Portuguese, who were already in the region, the separation and conflicts between the two tribes grew. Tupiniquins united with the Portuguese and the Tupinambás, with the French. The battle between the greedy colonialists became the battle between the descendants of this area.

When looked for the significance of the name of the river (Rio Cambury) I discovered that my intuition about the fishing was relevant. The name actually means the river of Robalo (sea bass), a fish that goes up the river from salt water to the sweet.  

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Going back from the beach I saw the official seal of Município de São Sebastião. The illustrations on the seal only represent the conquistador-power and strength. I could not see one symbolic element representing the native people who lived in the area before the Portuguese came. Their existence is erased.

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