Isabel de Castro
The exhibition Prisões consists of six works titled
Livro, Paredão, Fé (Telefone de Deus), Casa,
Amor and Trabalho. As said by Eliana herself: they came from
external interferences, the prisons you create for yourself.
Yes, this was the intention, the theme, but what interests
us is how Eliana makes this. The first work is Livro, exhibited
in a suspended shelf, not quite like a swing - but it generates
instability upon an object which encapsulates solidity and
the credibility of its signs. The signs themselves are imprints
of blue Arabic numerals lined in sequence, interrupted by
an error: an imprint on the shape of a red weathervane, symbolizing
chaos. There are also red arrows randomly pointing to nowhere.
The engraving in relief recalls primordial gestures, the human
necessity of marking, but what was made to distinguish us,
bureaucratically, annuls us. The repetition of the act of
printing numerals that don't mean anything but the passing
of time, no doubt, takes as ordinary our passage through life,
stressing that, if we don't occupy the right place, we will
be marked. Although we have directions to follow, if we always
walk ahead, without looking back, we won't have memories to
preserve; without these memories, we won't learn anything,
and, consequently, won't have stories to tell. Turning the
pages of Livro, we quench our vision with numbers that lost
their beginning and end, indicating time going by in our lives,
which can be rewritten at any moment.
this, it's Paredão, a tapestry of imprinted bullets.
The same imprints are used, but in different colors: black
and red. Layers of numbers, arrows, weathervanes are superposed.
Again, there is the gesture in relief to the surface's dimension,
2x 2m, figures obsessively imprinted. Reiteration of acts.
Outbreaks of standard imprints stretched horizontally, a one
on one relationship with the image.
(Telefone de Deus), the shrine's shape stands out, but only
one is assembled as an object, with images and amulets from
various religions, the remaining ones cut out from the phonebook's
pages and printed with numbers of a supposed net of lines.
It's a contradiction in how we can make use of these mechanisms
of faith, to comfort us when we suffer or to comfort us from
our failures, transferring to others our responsibilities.
Cut, collage, stamp, printing, and all other procedures in
the universe of replicated images. Focillon accurately describes
the artistic craft:
The spirit makes the hand, the hand makes the spirit. A gesture
that does not create, a gesture with no future, incites and
defines the state of conscience. A gesture that creates exerts
continuous action into inner life. The hand pulls off tact
from its receptive passivity, organizing it for experience
and action. It teaches man to have length, weight, density,
number. By creating an original universe, leaves its mark
in everyone. Measures forces with the matter it transforms,
with the form it transfigures. An educator of man, multiplies
it in space and time. (1998).
the multiple act of creating reflects a constant inquiring
eye in all areas of her life.
a four-piece set, pieces from everyone's house, through which
Eliana exercises humor and irony. Sala de não estar
is a rectangle of matelassé fabric with a silhouette
of a two-seat sofa. The sofa as a meeting place can also be
the place of alienation. The comfortable place to receive
guests becomes a transparent outline in a home's scenery,
making up for the graphic solution, the design, which shows
us emptiness. Sala de jantar is a three-plate set made of
paraffin with stamps and three napkins, with imprints of tableware
compressed into paraffin tablets. On the plates, there is
the disturbing presence of a cockroach, frozen inside a translucent
material. Like Raul Seixas', Eliana's work disturbs. Banheiro
is composed by two rolls of toilet paper with the figure of
a toilet printed on their length, fixed in two tablets of
paraffin with imprints. Place of dirtiness and cleanness.
Quarto shows the couple's sheet and their two pillows, suspended
by chains. The sheet has masculine and feminine figures printed
like that of criminal evidence, and, on each pillow, a weathervane.
What could be the union of two people can turn into a murder
or suicide; at the same time, the bodies look relaxed and
Amor consists of eleven jars with their lids and a piece of
leather inside each one, tattooed with images of hearts. Tattoos
in jars. How to keep longer something that is already forever?
The multiple forms of love we know and look for in life, all
are worth living. Hearts coupled, broken heart, heart with
lace, heart with thorns, heart on fire. Almost a scientist,
more of a taxidermist.
it's Trabalho, the hardest of all, for being the synthesis
of all procedures and also for approximating art and life.
But, before, let's proceed to a description of the pieces:
they're photos of her colleagues, of the subaltern functions
in relation to the supervisor's, marked with imprints on the
foreheads, in the three classical positions of police pictures,
which received layers of paraffin wrapped in plastic packages.
Eliana points out the willingness of her colleagues who contributed
to this work. She invites us to an immediate identification,
with the 3x4 photos which are as familiar to us as our fingerprints.
In these portraits, printed in different tonalities of gray
on the translucent surface of the paraffin, one can see a
record of each person who falls into a certain function, in
a certain place. Eliana calls our attention to the individual.
Conserving memory, building up a memorial, where people are
alive in the social game. Proofs of their existence. More
than interpreting every day life, it's her construction of
a new universe that invites us to think. She had used paraffin
and prints on portraits before, in the exhibit Copyright by,
at Museu Alfredo Andersen, in 2001. On that occasion, Eliana
broached the theme of lost innocence. Almost as a natural
extension to the previous exhibit, social conventions are
discussed in Prisões. With an efficient montage, but
not didactic, we are touched by the uneasiness that everything
in life has its own mark, it's own price, so that we can grow
up. That doesn't need to be taken in a negative or heavy way:
Eliana's work reminds us that we can always make choices,
and that we can revive the child inside us.
I end this
note by quoting Campbell: "
I believe that conscience
and energy are somehow the same thing. Where you see energy
of life, there is conscience." (1990).
J. O Poder do Mito. São Paulo: Palas Athena, 1990.
FOCILLON, H. O Elogio das Mãos. In: A Vida das Formas.
Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 1998.
(Tradução para o inglês por Flávia
Isabel de Castro é artista plástica e
mestre em artes pela ECA (USP). Atualmente, é professora
na Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul e na Feevale.
(1) CAMPBELL, J. O Poder
do Mito. São Paulo: Palas Athena, 1990.
(2) FOCILLON, H. O Elogio
das Mãos. In: A vida das formas. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge