Cinthia Marcelle: By Means of Doubt
MASP — Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Dec. 14, 2023 - Feb. 26, 2021
The Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP) presents, from December 14, 2022, to February 26, 2023, the solo show Cinthia Marcelle: por via das dúvidas [Cinthia Marcelle: By Means of Doubt], which is held in the exhibition space on the museums 2nd sublevel. Curated by Isabella Rjeille, a MASP curator, the show is the first all-encompassing exhibition devoted to the artist’s oeuvre in Brazil and gathers a set of 49 works, 10 of which were produced especially for this occasion. The set of selected works covers almost two decades of the production of the artist, regarded as a crucial figure in the Brazilian contemporary art scene. The show also includes works produced in partnership with filmmaker Tiago Mata Machado and South African artist Jean Meeran, Marcelles relevant collaborators.
Through installations, photographs, videos, paintings, collages, and drawings that use everyday elements, Cinthia Marcelle (1974 – Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais state) explores the way objects, ideas, and concepts are arranged in the world, as well as the power structures and hierarchies that support these systems of organization—be they political, social, or cultural. Whether through large-scale installations or concerted actions involving several collaborators (such as roofers, performers, cleaning workers, or jugglers), Marcelle creates situations and interventions that question the status quo and invite us to envision other forms of collective organization.
The exhibition Cinthia Marcelle: por via das dúvidas gathers 49 works from different points in the artists career, from 1998 to the present day, 10 of which were designed especially for the show and in tandem with the context in which they are placed, be it the annual thematic axis or the very museums architecture. “The artist’s works function relationally with each other and with the space in which they are placed—as in a constellation in which meaning is created, changed, and rubbed by the combination of these factors. Thus, the exhibition does not aim to fit or categorize Marcelles’ production within a logic that is unknown to her, but to follow the artist’s reasoning,” says the curator Isabella Rjeille.
The title of the exhibition, Por via das dúvidas [By Means of Doubt] refers to a work by the artist that consists in drawing a brick wall with a roll of masking tape and a paper sheet. This work sets a relationship with another one, also shown in the exhibition, entitled Explicação [Explanation] (2014). In both, one can see the artist’s simple gesture of interrupting the tapes length with a hand cut and carefully reassembling it in the shape of a wall on a paper sheet. What distinguishes them is the depiction of the wall: while Explicação shows an intact wall, Por via das dúvidas (2014) depicts it in ruins.
The two works comprise a microcosm of Marcelles production by bringing together three of its recurring aspects (materials, time, and color) around two main subjects: education and work. The figures of students and workers are frequent in her works, as protagonists of actions and performances that begin from their own tasks. Events such as clashes, riots, and uprisings appear in the artist’s work due to their ability to destabilize and rearrange the structures in which they are placed. Her work also shows materials from school or construction settings, as a means of evoking the power of social change that exists in these contexts.
In R = 0 (Homenagem aos secundaristas) [R = 0 (Tribute to the Second Grade Students)] (2022), a development of the work R = 0 (Homenagem a M.A.) [R = 0 (Tribute to M.A.)] (2009), produced especially for this exhibition, the first aspect is clear: the significance of materials. In it, the artist incorporated a school chair used by second-grade students during the 2016 occupations of public schools against government measures that would have a detrimental effect on Brazilian public education. The work consists of balancing this kind of furniture on a handful of blackboard chalk—a technique taught by teacher Michael Asbury, who, when he was a student, did the same in the classroom in the absence of the teacher. The result is an installation that challenges the order of things to remain standing.
Another example of that is the new work reconfigured for MASP based on Educação pela pedra [Education by Stone] (2016), at first shown in Projects 105: Cinthia Marcelle (2016–17), at MoMA PS1s Duplex Gallery in New York. At MASP, carefully positioned stacked concrete blocks, forming a structure resembling a wall, have their gaps filled with blackboard chalk. Instead of the apparent grout, which leaks through the gaps—an usual aspect in the buildings of Lina Bo Bardi, the architect who designed MASP—, the blackboard chalk is the material that leaks between these spaces.
“I believe that some of my working procedures are akin to Lina Bo Bardi’s working practices, especially regarding the opening of the creation/execution processes to the workers team to take part in. Experts are essential for the development of a society-led project, and the participation of these people is key when one intends to attain a diverse and plural proposal,” Cinthia Marcelle points out.
The second aspect, time—one of the elements that organize our lives, whether counted in calendars, clocks, and agendas—, takes shape in the series Calendário [Calendar] (2018–20). In it, time is counted based on the handiwork of the artist and her collaborators with the materials used in the work: fabric, paint, slat, and shoelace. “Calendário is a series of paintings that makes visible in its final product the relationship between time and work applied in the undertaking of each piece,” explains Isabella Rjeille.
On the other hand, color—an element capable of inscribing and erasing, making visible or invisible certain aspects of reality, and with plenty of historical and social meanings—is, in Marcelles oeuvre, an aesthetic, ethical, and political choice. Such complexity is prominent in the series of photographs Capa morada [Stay (Cape Town)] (2003), carried out in partnership with the South African artist Jean Meeran during an art residency in Cape Town, South Africa. Divided into four parts (tecidos [fabrics], roupas [clothes], coisas [things], and pessoas [people]), this series records the artist in the process of locating herself in a context unfamiliar to her own. In the set of photographs, Marcelle has her body totally covered by fabrics, blending into the landscape or getting lost amidst the accumulation of objects in a street market.
“Living for a while in South Africa ended up being, within my sense of locality, as a non-white person, a natural movement in my artistic path. There, in a process of displacement and recognition, I developed with Jean Meeran the series Capa morada, in which I blended into the city, lost myself, and then found myself in the South African world, at the same time close to and far from my own,” reflects Marcelle. “So, this progressive process of my unveiling and familiarization with the mixed-race part of Cape Town somehow had something of a naturally political action for the time—even because this same segregation was happening and still happens, in a more covert way, in my own country,” she concludes.
Cinthia Marcelle: por via das dúvidas is part of the MASPs biennial programming devoted to Histórias brasileiras [Brazilian Histories] (2021–22), on the occasion of the bicentennial of the Independence of Brazil in 2022. This year, the program also includes shows by Alfredo Volpi (1896–1988), Abdias Nascimento (1914–2011), Luiz Zerbini, Joseca Yanomami, Madalena dos Santos Reinbolt (1919–1977), and Judith Lauand, in addition to the group exhibition Brazilian Histories.
ABOUT CINTHIA MARCELLE
Cinthia Marcelle was born in 1974 in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais state), and since 2010 has lived and worked in São Paulo. She graduated in Fine Arts at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais [Federal University of Minas Gerais] (UFMG). His recent solo exhibitions include A Conjunction of Factors, at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) in Barcelona (2022); A morta [The Dead Woman], at the Wattis Institute in San Francisco (2018); Family in Disorder: Truth or Dare, at the Modern Art Oxford (2017); Project 105: Cinthia Marcelle, at MoMA PS1 in New York (2016); and Dust Never Sleeps, at Secession in Vienna (2014). Highlights of her recent group shows include A Clearing in the Forest, at Tate Modern in London (2022); Língua solta [Loose Tongue], at the Museu da Língua Portuguesa in São Paulo (2021); Soft Power, at SFMoMA in San Francisco (2019); Push the Limits, at Fondazione Merz in Turin (2019); La Panacée, at MoCo in Montpellier (2019); and Still Here, at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD) in San Francisco (2019). Cinthia Marcelle was the artist selected to occupy the Brazilian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017) with the installation Chão de caça [Hunting Ground], which received a Special Mention from the shows jury. Her work is part of the collection of several national and international institutions, including Instituto Inhotim (Brumadinho), Instituto Itaú Cultural (São Paulo), Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM) (São Paulo), KADIST (San Francisco), MASP (São Paulo), Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, MoMA (New York), Pinault Collection (Paris), the Royal Library of Denmark (Copenhagen), SFMoMA (San Francisco), Tate Modern (London), and Vebhi Koç Foundation (Istanbul). Marcelle also often works in partnership with other artists and takes part in collective projects.
On the occasion of this exhibition, the first and most comprehensive monographic book on the artists oeuvre will be published. The publication is illustrated with images of works that encompass Marcelles whole career, as well as unpublished essays by Ana Raylander Mártis dos Anjos, Eungie Joo, Isabella Rjeille, and Leandro Muniz. The catalog is supported by the Museum Marta Herford—an institution that will hold an overview show by the artist in 2023—, editorial organization and curatorship by Isabella Rjeille, and design by Elisa von Randow.
CINTHIA MARCELLE: POR VIA DAS DÚVIDAS
[CINTHIA MARCELLE: BY MEANS OF DOUBT]
Curated by Isabella Rjeille, MASP Curator
2nd sublevel (exhibition space)
14.11.22 – 26.02.23
MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand
Avenida Paulista, 1578 – Bela Vista
01310-200 São Paulo, SP
Telephone: (11) 3149-5959
Opening hours: Tuesday – free admission, from 10 am to 8 pm (entry until 7 pm); Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm (entry until 5 pm); closed on Mondays
Online scheduling is required via the link: masp.org.br/ingressos
Tickets: R$ 50 (admission); R$ 25 (half price)