Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Carla Zaccagnini
Reação em cadeia com efeito variável
[Chain Reaction with Variable Effect]

Hydraulic and mechanical system driven by the simultaneous use of
playground rides. 900 x 1,500 cm. (In collaboration with Alexandre Canônico; technical development: Daniel Dias Ferreira; assistant: Gregório Rocha; advisor: Lauro Inoue; production management: Paulo Masson.)

Location: Bosque dos Cegos (between the parking lot of the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo – MAM-SP, and the creek Córrego do Sapateiro).

Thais Rivitti: How was the conception of this work?

Carla Zaccagnini: The idea for this work came from an invitation to participate of an exhibition on design and politics curated by Kiki Mazzuchelli. As it turned out, I ended up working on something else with Nicolás Robbio; and that project – a swing with four seats that could only be used when all of the seats were occupied – still hasn’t left the drawing board. But it was while thinking about its mechanism that Alexandre Canônico suggested a swing with just one seat that could hold several people and would only work if there was a certain weight on it, and had to be used by, say, four people. In the course of this conversation, about a year ago, we had the idea – which seemed impossible – to build a playground with rides that unlocked one another, forming a single mechanical system of unusual causes and effects. I don’t remember when the fountain came into the picture, but it was the grand finale of the chain of actions: a constant drawing, but transparent and impermanent, epic and innocuous at the same time. It was while talking to Paulo Masson, when the project was already underway, that we discarded the idea of the chain of unlocking rides and came up with this hydraulic system set in action by the use of the rides.

Thais Rivitti: Conspiração [Conspiracy] (working title) – in addition to needing a whole team to be structured, needs to make a pact with the audience in order to be fully realized. What is the role of “others” in your works?

Carla Zaccagnini: Co-authorship is an almost permanent strategy in my work. On the one hand, it is a way of ensuring a distance between what I imagine initially and the final work, of accepting the artist’s lack of control and making the work surprise me. On the other, it is a strategy that poses a question about the definition of art and the role of the artist. In other words, if we can’t say that an artist is one who creates an image or who has the technical skill that defines the realization of an idea and its visuality, and also that what he / she produces is art. Where is the center of this uncertain, flexible terrain that circumscribes the definition of art and redesigns each new work? I don’t know if the pact with the audience you mention is conceptually related to the issue of authorship. I think it has to do with a different issue, equally as relevant in art history: reception. But my position as regards these two aspects of the work of art certainly has something in common: shared responsibility.

Thais Rivitti: At a time when there is some debate about the spectacularization of exhibitions and when the 28th Bienal de São Paulo is seeking to rethink itself and forge new paths, your work – a playground – takes on a certain air of irony. In a way, it is as if the work were making fun of the discourse about spectacularization by presenting a fun idea that is common, trivial, and far removed from fireworks displays.

Carla Zaccagnini: I am an ironic person, but not cynical or skeptical. Perhaps the playground does have a certain irony, but more than that there is a trust in the possibility of making content understandable by means that aren’t necessarily intellectual or reflexive. You can, of course, trace the history of this work by looking to Duchamp’s The Large Glass, to relational aesthetics, to the notion of formulated participation in Brazilian neo-concretism. But there are other readings of the work that have to do with, for example, the role of the individual in a system of interdependent relations, and which don’t require any understanding of artistic debates at all. For some time now I have been insisting that my work isn’t made for experts, but for the curious. The shifting of the work from inside the Pavilhão das Indústrias* to the open area of Ibirapuera Park is interesting.

* Original name of the pavilion that houses the Bienal de São Paulo.

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