"If you can look, see. If you can see, notice"
"Mud, salt crystals, rocks, water"
Although there are no concrete accounts of the beginnings of painting, it is known that painting was born “in the negative”. Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History, tells us the episode of a young woman, the daughter of an artificer from Corinth (Greece) who, in love with a young man about to leave the city, would have fixed by lines the profile of the lover projected on the wall by the light of a lamp.
Perhaps one of the most uncertain and mysterious episodes in the history of art, in which everything is about conjectures, in it becomes concrete much of what we still understand today as “image”: between presence and absence, simulacrum and substitution.
If the shadow is the origin of the painting, the negative is the origin of the photograph, which, centuries later, adds a new ontological possibility: an image is also the material vestige of a referent, “trace” or “index”.
These two “origin myths” come to me, separated from each other, due to what Marcelo Moscheta presents in “Plano Inclinado” [“Inclined Plane”], his second solo exhibition at SIM Galeria. Not because it is an exhibition that deals with specific disciplines, but rather because the proposal that Moscheta brings us is part of a postmodern exercise of sculpture, that is, the overcoming of discipline and the idea that it is possible to perform all modalities of the artistic procedure, even those that belong to another domain, the anthropological, the documentary, the mere collection, the inventory, the archive, the cinematic.
A laboratory of contemporary art, called “art-as-thing-without-name” by some authors, sculpture has developed in the last century by several other ways that make its status a permanent place of negotiation. The film, the video and the photography have added the possibility of not ceasing to be a sculpture, but also being able to be an object and an installation, to be organized on the fictional plane, to address the deferred, the absence and the non-representation.
Therefore, it is possible that we are mistaken if we look at the work of Marcelo Moscheta from the clinical and mineral rigor that brings him closer to the exact sciences. Since we are only looking at this “exteriority”, we will fail to observe how close it is to this eroticism of the beginnings, the memory of an absent body which Pliny the Elder has told us about. In short, we will fail to see a significant aspect that is the operation of the “imaginary”, this “cannibalistic treat that transforms the real”, that instigated so much Freud.
In general, the work of Moscheta operates in this dialectic or tension, and I believe that a single work of this exposition is able to speak for all this complexity, just as a stone can speak about the geological landscape to which it belongs.
Entitled “Memória Gráfica” [“Graphic Memory”], in reference to the set of lithographic stones that the artist found broken irregularly in its edges. It is an installation that occupies a prominent space of the gallery and organizes around it all the other works.
The idea that gives us is that through the fragments we can mentally compose a small imaginary mountain range of “full” and “hollow” elements, in an artistic operation that unites the drawing to the object as part of the same linguistic system. The dynamism that it confers to space relates not only to this operation, but also to an idea of origin and final destination, of us, of the world.
As Moscheta says, “this work wants to transform the memory contained in the surface of the stone, which once was the cradle of innumerable reproductions, in a new and last black print. It continues accumulating images in layers and more layers, like a palimpsest of all the previous ones. A cyclical game between the ideas of reproduction and origin”.
The drawing of a graphite on a black background rebounds and multiplies the mental horizon of the exhibition as a “projection surface” on which the meticulousness of the formal arrangement opens up for a deliberate alienation of expressive possibility and even removes the cognitive dimension of the technique.
This sensitivity of Marcelo Moscheta’s work, in which its conceptual legacy is crossed by the problematic feeling of its own historicity - because the present does not add up or deposit memory - becomes here an exercise of going back and forth. This movement perpetually remakes our erotic relation to the image, between presence and absence.
Marta Mestre, September 2017