Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cruzamentos! at the Wexner Center

I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of Cruzamentos! Contemporary Art in Brazil last month at the Wexner Center for the Arts. I went with other members of the Columbus Emerging Museum Professionals group. The Columbus Emerging Museum Professionals is a group of people with less than ten years of experience in the museum world (hence the emerging). We get together a few times a month for social events, to attend art and other museum events and for professional development. I actually had the idea for this blog after attending my first EMP event at Roto, an exhibit design and production firm in Dublin.

Author's Note: We were not allowed to take photos in the galleries so most of my photos in this post were taken of booklets and brochures I picked up at the opening.

I have a tendency to collect brochures, pamphlets and other paper ephemera when I visit new places (and places I visit often, I still have every brochure from where I currently work!). I then hoard those papers and brochures, I have no intention to do anything crafty or scrapbook-y with them, but I still want to keep them, at least for a while. Below is a photo collage of my collection of papers and brochures from Cruzamentos! I even snagged a poster!

Overall, I enjoyed this exhibit. It was different from other art exhibits I've seen, but it was also more colorful and more diverse than any exhibit I've ever been to. The word cruzamentos means "intersections" or "crossings" in Portuguese, the official language of Brazil. This is a fitting title for the exhibition, the distinct and unique artwork on display made it feel as if one was criss-crossing through different art mediums, themes and subject matters. 

The exhibit contains the artwork of thirty-five talented Brazilian artists, for some, this is their first time exhibiting in the United States. The exhibit includes visual and media art and Cruzamentos! is part of a larger program called Via Brazil, which will feature a Brazilian documentary film series, educational programs and other activities.

Fast-House by Márcio Almeida had an interesting set-up. Materials to build 'Fast-House' were stacked neatly into piles on the gallery floor. Nearby were instructions and diagrams in Portuguese on how to construct the house. I wonder how long it takes to put one together?

Veneza do Brasil (Venice of Brazil) by Laura Belém is a series of floating houses, moved by small fans creating a current in a pool of water. To view the houses, one has to climb up several steps to peer down at the piece. It was fun to experience a piece of art from a different perspective - usually we stand facing a painting or sculpture at eye level. I like that the houses were moving on the water. It reminded me the towns in a model train display. I almost expected to see little figurines of people and animals in the houses! You can visit the artist's website for a picture of the piece.

The Box by Lucia Koch is a film of the interior of a cardboard box. There are fairly large holes in the top of the box, which allow in shifting colors of light. Sitting in the dark room viewing The Box made me wonder if this is how small rodents or birds feel on the ride home after being purchased from a pet store. The video created a feeling of uncertainty and anticipation.

Gambiarras Mosaico (Gambiarras Mosaic) by Cao Guimarães is a piece that encompasses a lot of the themes found in Cruzamentos!. Gambiarra is a Portuguese word which doesn't have a simple English translation. The word is used to describe the refurbishing or repurposing of an object for a completely different use and to satisfy an immediate need. A paper clip being used to fix a bra strap and half of a lime used as an ashtray are two examples photographed by Cao Guimarães and included in the collection of forty-five photos. The part of the gallery where Guimarães work was on display was very crowded on opening night as visitors tried to pick out what was being used in a non-traditional way in each photo.

Santos by Leda Catunda is a 'soft painting' constructed of canvas, fabric, plastic, velvet and acrylic paint. I loved all of the different textures!

Rusticchella by Lucia Koch is an enlarged print of a paper bag, it looks like it may have held bread or donuts at one point. The photo is gigantic, standing in front of it makes you feel small, just like in Koch's video, The Box. The shadows and light reflected in the bag creates its own landscape, reminiscent of a dark and shadowy forest or tunnel.

Milk Mel by Beatriz Milhazes was one of my favorite pieces. It's an amazing, bright and colorful collage full of imaginative shapes and textures. It looks like some of the materials used are packaging for food and candy. I love it when artists take materials we throw away everyday and make them into something beautiful

A Última Foto (The Last Photo) by Rosângela Rennó is a collection of photographs and the cameras that took them. The artist asked friends and fellow artists to take a photo of the statue, Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro. The resulting photos are beautiful examples of the same idea interpreted by different individuals. The cameras that took their last photo are also on display, sealed in display boxes.

Pendurado (Hung) by Tatiana Blass is a wax dog, suspended on a wide leather belt over a hot metal plate. I crouched down to be eye level with him at the exhibit. He is the saddest looking little dog. It looks as if he knows his fate - that he will eventually be just a puddle of wax on the plate. I don't think the piece would have had as much effect on me if it had been a random shape, a square cube of wax melting into a puddle would not have elicited the emotional response I felt when I saw the little dog. Such a compelling piece!

Polvo Portraits and Polvo Oil Colors by Adriana Varejão was one of the most interesting pieces I saw in the exhibit. Varejão made her own skin tone oil paints based on the responses to a survey in Brazil asking citizens to describe the color of their skin. She then painted many different self-portraits using the skin tone paints. The oil paints were also on display and were named after the results of the survey.

This is a really unique exhibit at the Wexner Center and I am glad I was able to see it! Cruzamentos! will be on view until April 20, 2014. You can get more information on the Wexner Center's website and follow the Wex on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Check out photos from the opening night of the exhibit and some of the artwork on Flickr!