Marcos Chaves, the artist whose 2014 show Academia – also featured from April to June this year at Parque Lage – launched Galeria Nara Roesler’s Rio de Janeiro venue, presents brand new developments of his piece Eu só vendo a vista, shown at the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in 2017.
According to Niterói Museum curators Pablo León de la Barra and Raphael Fonseca, the new Nara Roesler show is an appropriation of that site-specific work, which saw the artist cover the museum’s windows that face Rio’s most iconic view with black sticker tape, from which he cut out the sentence Eu só vendo a vista (which can translate as ‘I only sell the sights’ or ‘I only sell for an upfront payment’). The landscape could be seen only through the gaps corresponding to each letter. The installation is based on a 1996 piece by the artist, which featured the same sentence on a Pão de Açúcar postcard. “This new version of the artwork enhanced a layer of meaning in the sentence that was hitherto subliminal: the blocking of the sights, the blindfolding of the landscape. Thus, viewers can only see the landscape through the letter cutouts. Sort of like a peephole, a peep show,” says the artist.
For the "Sendo dado" exhibit, Marcos Chaves photographically appropriates his large installation from MAC-Niterói in three different narratives using each of the letters in the sentence Eu só vendo a vista. In one of the gallery’s rooms, the letters are shown separately in large format photos over black walls. In another space, the show’s eponymous piece sees the Rio-based artist pay tribute to Marcel Duchamp, the best-known appropriator in art history, as the curators point out. In a composition of smaller photos, containing the same letters as his installation, Chaves writes Étant donnés (Sendo dado, or ‘given that’), the title of the French artist’s emblematic work, in which a naked woman’s body can only be seen through two holes on a wooden door. “This is, therefore, a proposed meeting of Chaves’ installation and one of the most acclaimed visual art pieces of the 20th century, Étant donnés, presented to the public in 1969,” argue Léon de la Barra and Fonseca.
Capping off his experimentations with a third previously unseen piece, Chaves relies on a stereoscope and a circular slide disc – analog technologies contemporaneous with Étant donnés – to invite viewers to actively engage their bodies in order to read each of the letters in “Só vendo” (either ‘I only sell’ or ‘Only by seeing’). “Only by seeing (and reading) can one believe the power of images and words,” the curators note. In this piece, which addresses the French artist’s work in a different way, there is no need to add “a vista” to the sentence, since it’s already there in the spaces of light within the letters. “The saying “só vendo” once again pays homage to sight, such an essential sense to Chaves’ research,” the curators add.