ZUNÁI - Revista de poesia & debates






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.

Next to 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.

In Fé (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).

For Eliana, the multiple act of creating reflects a constant inquiring eye in all areas of her life.

Casa is 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 disarmed.

The set 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.

Finally, 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).

CAMPBELL, 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 Rocha)


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 Zahar, 1998.

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