3Nós3 — Ana Mazzei — Charbel-Joseph H. Boutros — Geumhyung Jeong — Gustavo Torrezan — Hudinilson Jr — Letícia Parente — Linda Montano — Rafael França — Ricardo Basbaum
The mirror – the object and its result – fascinates Western societies, set between its scientific explanation and the mystery of its distortions. In Western art histories, “The Arnolfini Portrait” (1434), by Jan Van Eyck, and “Las Meninas” (1656), by D. Velázquez, rely on this expedient and affirm historical awareness of the representational character of painting as they incorporate, into the interpretational game, both the observer and the maker of the images.
This element and its logic grow more relevant and recurrent during the period in which European surrealism choses the double as a manifestation of the merchandise/human objectification fetish pairing to put forth its critique of capitalism, even as it surrenders to this ambiguity of contemporary living. Such recurrence comes across, literarily and visually, through the presence and representation of mirrors, as well as mannequins – near-human in the latter case – that come to life in surrealist dreams and hallucinations.
The notion of double brought about by the mirror was also reconfigured in the Cold War context. Re-elaborated in science fiction pieces, with extraterrestrial enemies and robots representing the enemy of the Western capitalist bloc: the communist as equal, but different. Thus, the double and the mirror helped inform the ways in which uneven cultural differences were conceived of, thereby helping the perpetuation of colonialism. However, the mirror and the double enable the interpretation of those dissimilar relationships by establishing a place in which for gazes to intersect.
Mirroring and difference is the theme of Letícia Parente’s “Especular” (1978) video, which lent its name to the conceptual section of the exhibit around which featured artworks and artists have been arranged. As a playful, experimental exercise, especular has been rethought as mirror and reflection, as well as in terms of duos, of action and reaction – not only between repeated figures in images, but also in the connections between artists, objects, images, and observers. In those connections, we strove to emphasize similarities and distinctions, clashes, dynamics, and power plays. The mirror as political space. Finally, by conversing with artists and their works, especular points the way to elaborations about the future, to imaginings of other times and spaces.