MEDITAÇÃO, TRANSE is a group show that has just opened in Mendes Wood, one of the most interesting young galleries of Jardins, a neighborhood of São Paulo. Founded in 2009 with a careful selection of artists– from the Brazilian Tunga to the Catalan Daniel Steegmann– Mendes Wood presents a program, which according to the gallerists, “examines (…) regional differences and individual identities,” seeking to promote, “collaborative and cosmopolitan debates.”
MEDITAÇÃO, TRANSE gathers together works that cross art, cinema, and anthropology. It deals with the concept of material absence– incorporating the recording of ritual, dance, repetition– or perishable materials, opening the door to altered states of perception– mystical, new age, psychedelic, primitive.
With a set of powerful works by Adriano Costa, Bas Jan Ader, Claudia Andujar, Maya Deren, Rivane Neuenschwander, Terence Koh, among others, MEDITAÇÃO, TRANSE take as its premise the idea that we do not live in an unbreakable world, but rather in a constant back and forth between conscious and unconscious, real and unreal, a flux of exchanges which fosters the emergence of symbolic formations. Thus, the artistic lies here in a set of scattered, inaccurate and imprecise aesthetics.
Pedro Mendes and Márcio Harum, the curators of the exhibition (Pedro Mendes is also one of the gallerists), found a possible mapping of self-hypnosis (Ryan McNamara, The Latest in Blood and Guts, 2009), music/transe (Luis Gispert, Turbo Burbo, 2009), oovement/dance (Maya Deren, Meditation on Violence, 1948), “infinitum” (Adriano Costa, As you like it, 2010-2011), and “continuum” (Rivane Neuenschwander, Reticências, 2000), in the work of eighteen modern and contemporary artists.
Pitting “empirical intentions” against the “formalist or historiographic norm”, MEDITAÇÃO, TRANSE conveys the idea that there is a need to assert the “existential primacy of art in essence,” since it is hard to locate the irrational. Theoretically, MEDITAÇÃO, TRANSE is part of a set of curatorial reflections that, through an inevitably historical recovery (Maya Deren, Pierre Verger, for example), but a fortunately committed one, which covers the theme’s potentialities (from the video of Ryan McNamara to the bark painting of the aboriginal John Mawurndjul), tells us that we misplace unreason or the irrational when we perceive it as a problem between real and unreal, of bastard projection of the imaginary over the real. There is no knowledge or evolution without these sorts of projections, though.
It is in the spectator’s relationship with the variety of proposals of MEDITAÇÃO, TRANSE that this issue comes to the fore. It is not a matter of image, but rather of the imaginary, and therefore a state of attention. This is why even in photographs taken with a strictly documentary purpose (and the nineteenth century is full of them) there is an affective, aesthetic and mystical feature that seems to emanate from these images, changing their statutes. We are able to see “other things”, besides the fact that it is possible to register realities derived from “perceptual excesses.” For these reasons, “Economia do Transe” (2011) of Deyson Gilbert, a sculpture that orchestrates the frail balance between five objects– one of them, a black flag and another, a cube of ice that melts throughout the day, setting the work in motion and disintegrating it– is one of the exhibition’s cores.
Translated from Portuguese by Gonçalo Gama Pinto.