Débora Bolzsoni: Geometria Sonambular


Galeria Athena is pleased to present the solo exhibition Geometria Sonambular, by Débora Bolzsoni.

During our talks about this exhibition, Débora Bolzsoni said something that resonated with me throughout the preparation process: “If you give me space, I will take it all!” (With all the excitement an exclamation mark can translate). In her output spanning over two decades, Débora has recurringly established some sort of space investigation game, no matter if it is an urban, domestic or exhibition space. Also, more than just filling spaces up making oneself present in them –, this investigation is based on the idea of “taking possession” of spaces (whatever they are), by exercising some sort of control over them, like that of an owner.


This is an important starting point to think about Bolzsoni’s works as a whole, but in particular about the exhibition GeometriaSonambular(Sleepwalking Geometry). It gathers five entirely new works. Here, the central piece results from an apparently simple action of displacing the lighting structure of the gallery exhibition room. Previously “invisible” because it was out of sight (a 1,216 square foot, nearly 20 feet high cube) and proved to be effective for its original purpose, the structure is now a body whose presence cannot be ignored, and changes our perception and movements in the space. These movements also imply a conceptual displacement, since the materials and the metal that the piece is made of, in addition to the wires, lamps and cables used in the lighting system and structure movement, are now part of the work. These very elements and principles reverberate in the other four works of this exhibition, all of them still unseen. Models build throughout the project allow for other occupations and other possible perspectives to be present. Such an inversion of scale to the less also gains an inverse mirroring, with a large pillow, which, deprived of its original use by the enlargement of the scale, looks like a painting pinned to the wall. A fifth element, a kind of tilting window is transformed into a plan or media, complements the collection according to the same logic of the other pieces.


Thinking about Sleepwalking Geometry in this exhibition points to the nearly vertigo sensation that Débora Bolzsoni proposes to the space and the objects in it. It includes changes in scale, ranging from model-like to nearly-monumental. It also inverts uses/functions and displacements of materials. Simultanteously, thinking of this name as the concept of her work reminds us of the production of an artist who is part of a generation interested in connecting with the heritage of reading the geometric tradition that was carried out in Brazil in the 1950s. In response to the concrete and neo-concrete experiences, this discussion gains other approaches (and fundamental conceptual expressions) in 1978.


The first of these approaches occurs with the collective exhibition GeometriaSensível(Sensitive Geometry), organized by Roberto Pontual at the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Modern Art. Director of the museum at the time, Pontual used this term as an attempt to explain the outspread of the geometrical tradition in Latin America in the 1950s by combining two apparently conflicting words. On the one side, the idea of “geometry”, usually related to calculations, coldness, rigor, and reasoning. On the other side, “sensitive” would add unpredictability, animation, indetermination, intuition.


Months later, Ivald Granado performs the action MitosVadios(Stray Myths). In a parking place at Rua Augusta, in the City of São Paulo, a group of guest artists created actions in a “totally experimental event” to protest against the first and last Latino-American Biennale named MitoseMagia(Myths and Magic). One of such artists was Hélio Oiticica, and in the context of Mitos Vadios that the formalizes the idea of a “Delirium Ambulatorium”. Here, wandering (a core aspect in the life and work of Oiticica since the beginning) is shown conceptually by proposing the emancipation of the body directly and immediately against the world, by exercising the possibility of "making urban poetic".


In GeometriaSonambular (exhibition and moving principle), Bolzsoni seems to establish a possible intersection between these two milestones. Her interest for geometric logic is present, but wittily and rather ironically. Wit and irony are to be noticed from the use/displacement of ordinary materials found in her walks in the city (often in visits to building material stores) to the relationship between the names of the works and how they sound. Also, it includes the relationships between the materiality of the work and the space. Débora Bolzsoni’s Geometria Sonambular is a project. It should be noticed that to “sleepwalk” is a verb, an action. Therefore, the idea of this project is not a description of any kind, like in a script for something that must be performed precisely from begin to end. Rather, the project is an action, a bet in artistic thinking and process as a wish, a will to accomplish something and incorporating inquiries and chance as a work logic that also extent to how we deal with the world.


Fernanda Lopes