• The Common Clay

    Date posted: April 1, 2010 Author: jolanta
    The Super 8 films were made in the 1970s, shot as a parallel activity to my studio work and my drawing practice. With these films, my artistic output was enriched with an entirely fresh visual vocabulary, a product of hands-on reflection that intended to resist whatever was being imposed and established by the military dictatorship at that time in Brazil. Later on video technology and photography came to replace the Super 8 medium. 

    Anna Maria Maiolino

    The Super 8 films were made in the 1970s, shot as a parallel activity to my studio work and my drawing practice. With these films, my artistic output was enriched with an entirely fresh visual vocabulary, a product of hands-on reflection that intended to resist whatever was being imposed and established by the military dictatorship at that time in Brazil. Later on video technology and photography came to replace the Super 8 medium.

    Continuum is an installation composed of a large amount of clay, modeled by myself in the exhibition space itself, and includes a number of modeled forms, basic and minimal, accumulated in the body of the work. Continuum is tailored to the human hand, realized through the first gestures of compacting and modeling clay—the earth. Soon after, clay begins to fulfill its natural becoming: it gets dehydrated, petrified, and crumbles back to dust—which, mixed once again with water, results in an excellent material to keep on working. This work is founded on the principles of labor and its sustainability through repetition. Its first impulse is entropy; the energy spent in the playful and pleasurable fatigue of the modeled matter, in the repetition of the gesture, a gesture that, belonging to nature, never repeats itself. In sameness, one finds difference.

    In this installation, there are traces of rituals that recall a kind of celebration, such as the preparation of food, which anticipates the joys of collective conviviality, or the harvesting of vineyards. In fact, the accumulated forms, repeated yet different, are signs where the signifiers indicate the work of men, signs that articulate and connect original truths found in the first gestures of our ancestors, when men turned their hands into tools and initiated our history and culture. However, this installation aims to occupy a real space, far from any symbol, since it is what it is: little balls and rolls of modeled earth. The metaphors they suggest may inspire viewers to draw connections between the forms of modeled clay and food or rejects. Viewers may also identify with the manual labor, embracing the work as if it were their own. Through some analogy, they may establish a relation with every action involved in the work, from forgotten and banal everyday gestures to important and vital gestures that give sustenance to life. On the other hand, the material content of this installation emphasizes the craft of hands and body, and the modeled forms could either be attributed to a single individual or to many, establishing a mediation between the individual and the collective body, connected between the primitive and the present—a mediation between body and language.

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