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Gustavo Rezende 1

Juliana Monachesi

Why is there no title for this photograph taken by Gustavo Rezende in 1996?2
 In the trajectory of an artist who has christened works with names such as O paradoxo de Thompson Clark e os pesadelos de Mark (1999), Taj Mahal e a possibilidade do amor na era do cubo epistemológico (2000) or Plumb e a vastidão do império (2002), this omission is significant. Would it be, perhaps, because the Brancusian head wrapped in rubber bands on top of a disposable carton of Parmalat milk — the whole resting on what appears to be a kitchen worktop with white tiles in the background — was overly enunciative of its own meaning?

In relation to his sculptural work,
Rezende has denied pursuing a cleavage in modern discourse, but rather tried
to join fragments of a shattered utopia
that was once nurtured by modernism. Sem título (1996) is about this: the sculpture — which for me will never
cease to suggest a fractured Brancusi
head carefully bandaged by Rezende — rests on prosaic industrial packaging,
its fragile equilibrium sustained by the
act of photographing. The grid used as background resembles a modernist grid, with grout unfailingly denouncing its impurity (a problem that modern asepsis could only solve when tiles were replaced by synthetic materials as covering and insulation of entire walls and floors of bathrooms and hospital facilities).
The milk carton — an index of historical progress for public health despite itself, as was the tiled surface — extends product life but, at the same time, gives rise to an ecological problem (another issue that was solved by replacing it with biodegradable material, as technology advanced). Fragments of one utopia seem to be joined by the ragged remains of another. The postmodern era — for which Warhol’s Brillo Box may be seen as the marker in contemporary art — with the outbreak of difference, the dimension of temporality (or ubiquity) and their counterparts — intolerance and vertiginously accelerated ways of living — sees its micro-utopias shattered every minute.
Rezende’s responses are in his titles: nightmares, vastness, and invariably unsolved magic cubes. Taj Mahal is the great Brazilian work of art from the 1990s: it ends the decade of subjectivity and micropolitics with an enigma. In this work too, Rezende adds industrial packaging, as in Plumb — an entire sculpture covered in food packaging. A kind of cultural ecology has been processing throughout Rezende’s oeuvre since the Taj Mahal Prozac box- Carrara marble confrontation. First we

find the Brancusian head confronting the Parmalat packaging. The missing title
is the key to the enigma for the cleft in Rezende’s work.

 

1 Originally published in hernández, Andrés i.m/soares, Carolina (eds.). Obras comentadas da Coleção do Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo. São Paulo: mamsp, 2007.

2 The reference is to Sem título, 1996: zinc back- light: color-print photographic slide mounted between two acrylic plates. 32.5 ∑ 34.5 ∑ 19 cm. Collection: Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo. Gift of Bayer s.a.

[Text published in Gustavo Rezende: Uma antologia por Tadeu Chiarelli. São Paulo: Editora WMF Martins Fontes, 2013.]

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