Lenora De Barros
The early history of video art combined the theme of the artist’s self-representation with scenes presenting violence at different levels. By outlining a short history of the artist as character within this specific context, we have everything from Bruce Nauman throwing his cup against the wall in Bouncing in the Corner, No. 1 (1968) and Martha Rosler’s energetic reaction in Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975) to Bas Jan Ader declaring the work as a failure in the face of a body that seems to have no flesh. In Estudo para Facada (2012), the image is no less strong, but the way in which time is sculpted makes it so that this level of violence is quickly emptied, revealing a lyricism which makes the work something much closer to a protest of the spectacularization of the image than a discourse on self-sacrifice and monotony. Lenora confronts the distinct media qualities (TV, film, photography) that invade and shape people’s views, daily lives and behavior, and which invest in models and strategies of drugged seduction. Still, in no way does the work take on a preachy or accusatory discourse. What is questioned here is the very statute of the image that arises and unfolds into something beyond what is actually visible, which, at the same time, glorifies and haunts, but from which the image is constituted. This haunting is contained in the representation of death, in its enigma and in the character/artist’s suspended scream. Furthermore, despite the sound of the knife invading the image, Lenora develops regimes of silence and drama that are accentuated by the decision to produce the video in black and white, as well as the actual space where the work is placed, in which the only light emitted is that of the screen, leaving spectators momentarily off balance.
Silence is also brought forth, not only through the fact that the mouth emits no sound, but through an intimate and plain scale which begets a proximity to the ambiguous character of presence and solitude that inhabits the work. The dichotomies presented (silence/sound, tenderness/violence, image in motion/photography) exhibit an extreme coherence. And something that could be qualified as ambiguous reveals one of her work’s greatest qualities: the original dimension of visual poetry.
b. 1953, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Lives and works in Sao Paulo. She graduated in Linguistics from the Universidade de Sao Paulo/USP, and started her artistic career in the 1970s. Her first works can be placed in the field of “visual poetry”, a trend that found its development in Brazil, springing from the concrete poetry movement of the 1950’s. Words and images were her initial materials. In 1983 she published the book Onde Se Vê (Where One See), a set of rather uncommon “poems”. This book already announced Lenora de Barros’s transit into the field of visual arts, what eventually came to happen. Since then, the artist has been following her own personal path, marked by the use of diversified languages: video, graphic design, performance, photography, sound installation and construction of objects. Among her recent exhibitions and activities stand out: Circuitos Cruzados, O Centre Pompidou Encontra o MAM, Museu de Arte Moderna [MAM], Sao Paulo (2013) • Para (saber) escutar, Casa Daros Latinoamerica, Rio de Janeiro (2013) • FOOD - Reflections on Mother Earth, Agriculture and Feeding by Artists and Filmmakers, Musée Ariana, Geneva (2012) • 11th Lyon Biennial (2011).