text by Ana Maria Maia
Reduced verb, suspended name.
A neologism brings to a close Débora Bolsoni’s recent procedures, some of them gathered in this solo exhibition, many others not, as they remain in waiting. The title Descaracter [Mischaracter] does not lend its name to any of the works or pay tribute to verses of the popular chansonnier, although it could well do so. It’s a feeling that fills the chest, sometimes the stomach, and soon slips through the fingers. It manifests itself as intuition, will, searching and living in generous harmony with the unknown. It has an abstract and often inexplicable form, but emerges with force and urgency, leaving no doubts about the doing.
Between the artist’s body, the architecture and the other bodies with which it relates to exist, the word and everything that is made from it become absent from the dictionaries and in debt to sensitive experience, they break away from language as convention to the extent that they take it as a laboratory for trials, errors, vestiges and suppositions. “Mischaracter” seems to have come from the verb “mischaracterize”. On the other hand, it might also result from a suspicion about the most assertive of human attributes, “character”, as it is combined with a negative prefix. Let us examine both these possible meanings and also the chance of there being other meanings or even none at all.
Débora Bolsoni’s production tends to stem from dealing with simple materials, such as paper, cloth, sand, wood, string and wax. Once in the form of a work, even when kept in sight of the public, they end up confusing people, primarily because their vocations are reshaped by the uses given by the artist. The fragile becomes enduring; the vulgar, monumental; structure (or sculpture), meanwhile, is investigated to bear softness and delicateness, to gain thin, organic and far from inert layers, risking its own ruin in the process.
Débora produces mischaracterized artefacts, whose physical appearance involves bigger or smaller doses of betrayal. Often not exactly how we imagine them to be from a distance, they request our approach, investment and calm. If it weren’t for the abilities of the present body to suspect and discover, we would carry on believing in the veracity of the patinas. The images of these artefacts – even though great photographs mounted in the gallery - are insufficient to translate the system and rapports they are part of, since the creation process.
Shared with masters of different crafts, who help the artist to recognise a minimal repertoire about the materials that interest her in each new project, this process is also nurtured by the availability, of both parties, to deconstruct their modes of production. In this exchange, constantly marked by adjustments to the language and measurements of incomprehension, the ideas must necessarily be focused back on the paths and limits of the consolidation. The crafts, in turn, come out reinvigorated from tackling absence and error, from the artist’s applied ignorance. In her discipline, therefore, there should reside an anti-discipline.
II. Suspending character
Whereas the prefix “un” indicates negation by absence, “mis” negates by opposition. In other words, in “mischaracter” there is still character, but perhaps another one, willing to contradict the radical from which it stems. Between contrary and equivalent vectors, a game of forces is established, a polarized and dialectic form, instead of those that rest safe on unilateral certainties. This is how the act of suspending functions in this solo exhibition. Seeking a stability that is not on the ground, where it would be subject only to the imperative of gravity, Débora was filled with the desire to hang things. This, in truth, was her first desire, when there was still nothing of what is here now.
She decided to hang a net, and in it a box and some rolls of textiles. Attached to the wall by a single point, they gradually lose their ambiguity to adhere to figurative and morbid meanings. The box has the proportions of a coffin and, before being entitled Pendente, it was referred to by its nickname “The Hanged”. Therefore, even as a preliminary project, the installation already concatenated the scene, traces and victim of a crime of unknown authorship. The assembly of the work, more than carrying people away, binds all those involved to the exhibition, artist, gallery and visitors. How questionable do their attitudes become in relation to the hanged? If not guilty of killing, are they not responsible for witnessing a death and doing nothing about it? Perhaps they are also responsible for invading the intimacy of a suicide, thus breaking the code of silence that usually averts tackling of the subject through media agendas and common sense.
The presence, in this case, is not enough to trigger any action, only moral judgment and the effects of its always guilty collision between sovereign individuals and the most ancestral doctrines for societal life. The meaning of the word character is found at the centre of this crossroads. It denotes the combination of qualities and values each person builds for him or herself, but presupposes their adaptation to the functional parameters of the institutions in place, such as the family, school, religion and the state.
Thos who flee from these parameters are so-called “characterless”. Not because they have no personal values, seeing as, whether for better or worse, for harmony or conflict, for rupture or for tradition, everyone has it. They flee because they disagree with something prior and inherent to the construction of an idea of character, moral judgment, or else, its conservative face: moralism. The exercise of suspension proposed by Débora Bolsoni helps to reposition the problem not of a moral, but rather of a collective ethic, becoming both the rule and the exception, interdependent and, in this regard, equally questionable, exhaustible, updateable.
In The Coming Community, Giogio Agamben described that ethics should not give rise to regrets but rather to the experience of “exposing, in every form, one’s own amorphousness and in every act one’s own inactuality.” The dialectics of things and of relations is again presented as the path for establishing a sphere of the less oppressive common and, therein, subjects who are both responsible and free and proactive. One should only judge them if they negated their power of creation, if they were repressed in the fault of other and of the past. According to the author, if “they remain in a deficit of existence.”