To break, to multiply: movements for the right to grunt

Clarissa Diniz



This text is about the desire to grunt. “What I really wanted was to grunt”, Carmela confessed during our only conversation.[1] She was referring to her own condition as a Brazilian artist in comparison to that of North American artist Paul McCarthy. She had seen him “grunt” while speaking about his work. For Carmela, it was the absence of a need to justify, to explain, to contextualize and to validate his own work that permitted him to grunt. It was about the artist’s place within a cultural field whose institutionality and specialization allowed the “author” not to be assigned the work of critics, educators, journalists, researchers, and gallery owners, among others. Nevertheless, over the course of a fifty year career, during nearly forty of which she taught at the Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Gross’s trajectory was clearly different, and it was re-staged during the day we spent together, during which we reviewed the whole of her work. There she was, for those long hours, once again forbidden to grunt: the mode of production that made it possible for this text to be published demanded yet another version of the usual scene.
The ability to grunt notwithstanding, Carmela did not take a self- or hyper-referential stance with regard to our meeting or the course of her trajectory. Even though she wrote a master’s thesis (1981) and a doctoral dissertation about her own work (1987), whenever her speech became public – and especially in lectures and catalogues – the artist eventually adopted a quasi-descriptive stance in discussing her work. A discursive procedure of this nature, likewise adopted in this book, circumscribes an ethic and a policy of her work: it contains something deliberately planned to behave insufficiently in light of art’s tradition of ascribing meaning – an attitude that has grown since the 1960s.
This insufficient exegesis – or, to put it another way, the adoption of an eminently methodological (and technical) perspective in speaking – is articulated with the modus operandi of her works. For Carmela, they had a “double movement – either they break within or multiply on the outside”[2]. In the former, they radicalised the dimension of exteriority that is immanent to them[3] to the point that, once they broke up, they become ambiguous. In the second movement, externalise this immanence in order to de-singularize it, producing dis-identifications. And so, in the continuous transit between ambivalence and de-subjectivation, we have the work of Carmela Gross.

Movement One: To Break Within

In 1989, Carmela said – of another work – something that points us to a perspective already established in one of her earliest gestures as an artist, STAIRS (1968): “(…) I don’t have anything against frames, but I like forms in motion in space, unbound.”[4] The statement, from a reflection on the series FOOLISH OBJECTS (1989), may be taken literally – as commentary about the relationship between thing and environment –, but it may also indicate one of her work’s policies, according to which the imagination of an art in direct relation with the world is predominant, as put forth in STAIRS.
Having emerged as an intervention on a São Paulo hillside, STAIRS is not, however, exactly an action in the city. In turn, although the work is inseparable from the logic of draftsmanship, it is finalized as a photograph. It is as an image that graphic intervention, city and body are combined without, nevertheless, coming to rest upon one part or another of the cat’s cradle proposed by Carmela at twenty something. The artist’s operation was not to produce an urban intervention documented by photography, but an image that articulates this weft by means of its flatness and cut, a distinction as crucial to an understanding of the latter as it is to Gross’s entire oeuvre. STAIRSis an imagistic whole that performs “intensive differences, immanent to a divided singularity”[5] to the detriment of the extensive and intrinsic distances between hillside, graphism and body on one hand and, on the other, drawing, intervention and photography.
The integral quality that characterizes STAIRS in its dimension as linguistic operation is, precisely, what sets it in motion within the field of the senses, producing an unsolvable signic – and, consequently, social and political – dispute between a hillside and stairs. A controversy that uses the body (to wit, that of the artist herself) as a hinge. It is in the contrast between its imagistic wholeness and conceptual disjunction that STAIRS continues to be “in motion in space, unbound”. Not because it forsook the sensation of a totality of a framing (“I don’t have anything against frames”), but because, inversely, it cannibalized the frame not as presence but as episteme. For prior to being an attempt at isolation from an “outside”, a frieze is precisely the establishing of a dimension of exteriority, a mode of producing context and contrast. The frame does not seek to nullify that which is external to it: it is an actual part of circumscribing an exteriority.
What happens to the “frame” in STAIRS is a lacunar operation[6] rather than a non-existent one, but Carmela – who belongs to the generation that effectively sought to cast “art into the world” and became recognized for their interest and action in the city’s interstices – nevertheless did not dedicate herself to deny or remove the frame (here obviously alluded in equivalence to the idea of art) as part of this generational movement. In its turn, it will promote its “disappearance” as the precipitation of other forms of producing exteriority. By means of a lacunar[7] operation that preserves and stimulates hiatuses instead of concealing them, the artist generally holds renders intrinsic the production of contrast and context that was traditionally safeguarded to a dimension of exteriority as “outside”. She will lead her works to break within. Carmela Gross makes use of countless strategies to insufflate those hiatuses, and their implications even more diverse.

Just as in STAIRS’s imagistic entirety, from a formal point of view, Carmela’s interventions possess a kind of stable presence, inasmuch as they are devised to adhere to the city’s wefts. Her works are plausible to the city’s uses, scale and intensity, simultaneously distant from a poetics of fragility or of (occasionally phallocentric) stridency of a certain sculptural/installational tradition that has gained strength since the 1990s. Yet the solidity with which they are fixed in space provides ballast for the inverse movement that they engender within the social territory of the senses, responding to the formal gravity of their presence with ambivalences that are intrinsic to these apparently univocal existences, set in motion from their epicentres, and along their edges. In this manner, whereas the neon signs of HOTEL (2002) or FOR SALE (2008) adhere perfectly to the tradition of São Paulo’s architecture and skies, the same cannot be said of the way they add themselves to the city’s nexuses and narratives.
Part of the equation forged by the artist – between formal stability and signic instability – noise is at the core of the logic of correspondence that is at the root of meaning: the signs are not consistent with customary uses of the locations in which they are installed, requiring a critical twist on our understanding of those spaces and/or of the meanings of those words. By insisting (night and day, close up and at a distance) upon the designation of other uses, conditions and identities to the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo (HOTEL), to the Paço das Artes (FOR SALE) and, more recently, to the Sesc 24 de maio (GRAND HOTEL, 2017) – environments for the public exhibition of art –, these signs once more transform their social meanings.
Obviously, we could insist on the idea of an institutional critique and underscore the fact that these interventions stir up the relations between art, capital and the logic of spetacularization, even as they also question public and private ambiguities. Yet, we cannot limit ourselves solely to dialectical perspective – that, in its need of contradictions, might take the neon sign HOTEL as an exterior instance, violently and provocatively superimposed upon the Biennale-unit. In another sense, we can launch ourselves into the creative adventure of imagining the hotel-dimension as an exteriority immanent to the idea of art, that in this baptism suggested by Carmela Gross would once more return to a state of becoming, simultaneously emancipating hotel, art and cultural institution of their clichés, exploding from within its coveted univocities, transformed into an “imaginary and borderline space. (…) Like a port, a bridge, a raft”[8].
The various readings of HOTEL, FOR SALE and GRAND HOTEL speak to us of their complexity as well as to current analytic keys in Brazilian art criticism. For this reason, Carmela Gross’s work is further condensed and, after HOTEL (2002), she presents us with FERRY HOTEL (2003), an installation that must not lead us to discard the extremely delicate suggestion that something may have eluded us on the occasion of the mounting of HOTEL at the São Paulo Biennial. Therefore, it is as an allegory of HOTEL that I imagine FERRY HOTEL, which decomposes the constituent elements of the earlier work – light, reflexivity, body, architecture – in an arrangement that, exchanging a monumental scale for an intimate one, renders obvious the structuring nature of reversibility and of the subject in Carmela’s work.
Taking the frontality between light and mirror as its starting point, FERRY HOTEL is an unsolvable equation, concomitantly capturing and catapulting light, infinitely generated by the play of reflection and retraction. In turn, its luminously flowing system incides upon those who cross it in a condition of transitoriness dictated by the raft, which covers the path down the illuminated corridor. In FERRY HOTEL, the public is subjected to an imposed direction and speed, as well as to an arbitrary collectivity, the individualities of which are spectrally fragmented by means of a constellation of light-mirrors that do not allow the public or the work a totalitarian gaze. In this sense, FERRY HOTEL is a device for disjunction of both the crowd and the individual. Deadened by time and by light, it is also a haptic space, ungraspable in its totality, one in which measurements of near and far do not operate with the same precision as they would in Cartesian spaces.
Thus, FERRY HOTEL points to the spectral nature of HOTEL, FOR SALE or GRAND HOTEL. Located within their respective contexts, the potency of these utterances does not come about because of anything they impose, nor because of what they subtract. They are not works that assault cultural institutions of the perennial or public meanings; nor do they empty them of their social functions. Rather, they operate as a spectrality that, by indicating a possible becoming, transforms them once. GRAND HOTEL, for instance, intimidates – thus, it renders unnecessary and, ultimately, frees the Sesc 24 de Maio from any attempt to explain its full adhesion or inadequacy to the identity egged on to it by Carmela Gross. Tastefully placed in the Sesc’s lobby, the neon sign’s incompleteness recognizes its own insufficiency as well as that of that particular place. It illuminates the right to a divided singularity. It echoes grunts.

Furthermore, Carmela Gross’s work exercises other forms of exploding on the inside, in a constant experimentation of its own methods, a process that is dear to the artist, also a teacher of many others. In a direction that is dissimilar to the production of “unsolvable contradictions”[9] as in STAIRS or HOTEL – other gestures that do not lend themselves to “disputing” the noisy territory of the senses from within. Aware that they cannot, however, escape it, these works bet on a sort of silence, a mode of absorbing the conflict-ridden dimension of signification that is, surely, one of the axes of its trajectory. If STAIRS or HOTEL roughly operate “within a key that deciphers and problematizes”[10], echoing questions because it transforms previously known answers anew, it is possible to perceive a slight – albeit precise – inflection in this operation in works such as LISTEN (2001) or BODY OF IDEAS (1981). More than cat’s cradles, these works are glazes.
LISTEN was the “papering” of the artist’s studio as a form of participation in a made for TV documentary, the prerogative of which was recording her “artistic practice”. Seeking to avoid “appearing as a false character of herself,”[11] Carmela Gross proposed not a staging of creation, but the understanding of work as performativity. Thus, she radicalized the idea of a making of: by emptying the subordination to something external to it, the of, Carmela turned the making against itself. She performed a lacunar operation regarding the idea of art, which the artist had dematerialized so that she might, accordingly, italicize the dimension of a work that, being inherent to its social field is, nonetheless, a hiatus in its ontological narratives. Thus, against the absence of perspective of the modes of producing art in the discourses engendered by its own field – that delay a materialistic approach to the work according to a generic and romantic allusion of creation – Gross proposed an inversion of the lapses at play. Instead of keeping labor in a lacunar state, brought about a pause in the idea of art, in a gesture that gave rise the work not as a dimension coextensive to art, but intensive to the point of standing out even in the situation of its own ontological silencing.
In spite of the fact that it is based on a spatial intervention, the papering produced in LISTEN is, eminently, an action in time. In the documentary, the artist presents herself in the prolonged and silent performance of a service, accompanied by assistants and devised for her public. Configured as something un-useful, Carmela’s gesture does not address meaning or content: in the documentary from which it is originally inextricable, covering the studio in Kraft paper produces a space of silence and, therefore, a moment for listening. By suspending intentionalities and exegeses, the art is not even there to be listened to. Because it prescinds a specific sender or recipient, the silence produced by LISTEN repositions art’s discursiveness, exploding from within the legitimacy and authority of its standpoint as an allegedly specialized and untransferable activity.
The work BODY OF IDEAS treats other fields of knowledge as glazes of sorts. Part of a visual encyclopaedia to render its pages hyper-vulnerable to time by means of heliographic reproduction of its pages which, as an archival and scientific device, they intended to resist. Heliographed – and, therefore, homogenized by a weary, unfocused blue –, the superimposed pages produce layers of images so that they may proceed anti-archeologically. Carmela’s operation is situated on the contraflow of taxonomy and those isolated parts that are common to scientific method, generating a varied mass of things that became doubles through reproduction even as, on the other hand, given the nature of heliography, they tend to be saturated and disappear when exposed to light. It is an ambiguous operation that glazes in order to render audible and operates in space in order to produce time.

Because it takes place on a continuum, in works such as STAIRS or HOTEL, a relation between a formal whole and conceptual disjunction – a system of not solving problems posed, that irritate one another indefinitely – is a significant mode for the production of temporality, as are interventions markedly devoted to the creation of time-spaces, such as LISTEN and BODY OF IDEAS. Intrinsically and intensively tensioning its own system, these works explore the un-coincidences between intention, thing and action, setting them in motion, as Flávio Motta noted in 1977: “It may be necessary to detach certain things.”[12] Otherwise, ANTHEM TO THE FLAG (2002) activates the durational dimension of Carmela’s works in another key, putting their habitual entirety at risk by means of an imminent disjuncture that now transfers to the public (even in a bodily sense) all responsibility for maintaining its entirety, or for its absolute derivation.
The modular logic of the installation – a set of bedsheets in various shades of red that form an “extended color plane in the museum’s monumental span”[13] – emerges from an engraving. From a single, fully hatched metal matrix, Carmela produced a series of 21 copies that are singularized by their colors, conquered by what was left of the application of the previous layer of red with the always different one that came on top of it. The method mounted a sophisticated relationship between permanence and variation, the intricate graphic cat’s cradle of which did not promote an unequivocal sense that they belonged to an identical matrix. PINK PRINTS (2002) posited the problem of the unit, spacially translated into a modular montage that, in its chromatic and quantitative lack of parity, never intended to bypass hiatus or heterogeneity.
Nevertheless, there being no differences between exteriorities (diversity) – only intensive variations – the prints reveal their own differentiation process precisely because they are circumscribed to a single, identical matrix. For this reason, PINK PRINTS is less a set of heterogeneities than a system of heterogenesis that led, in ANTHEM TO THE FLAG, to a special radicalness in Carmela’s work.
In the print’s translation to “installation”, the red-hued stains are transformed into sheets deposited on the floor of a free-spanning architectural space, one that is open to environmental variations that, as such, set at risk the sovereignety of bidimensionality, then withdrawn from its traditional quadratures. As in BODY OF IDEAS, the artist renders her material hyper-vulnerable in a paradoxical way: to keep the sheets from flying, Carmela exposes them, requesting that they be constantly wet, in the intention of producing a density that will make them adhere to the ground. By moistening them, she renders the surfaces adhesive and they become impregnated by time-space, just as reminiscences of red persist from one copy to another of the PINK PRINTS matrix. Whereas, on one hand, this making vulnerable guarantees a continuous existence to the sheets within that context, on the other it continually transforms their identities, in a negotiation between permanence and variation. Watered by the public and inextricable from the environment in which they find themselves, the sheets conform to the actions to which they are subjected even as they anticipate them. In this process, they establish a relational mode of existence that discards the ontological prerogative of object, subject or art. They break within to the point that they lose sight of any origin or purpose: they are immanence.
The ANTHEM TO THE FLAG’s durational nature slowly transfigures the work’s system of causality, rendering its condition as “impregnant” coextensive to that of something “impregnated”. It is by virtue of the performativity – repeated watering – that it impinges that the work simultaneously desecrates and ritualizes the daily achievement of a state of immanence that is not safeguarded as a fact of autonomy but is fundamentally a construction that remains in an inconclusive state of becoming, hence the irony of its title. In this sense, ANTHEM TO THE FLAG assigns to the public the work that, in LISTEN, had been reserved to the artist, inscribing itself within one of the most proficuous territories of Carmela Gross’s work: that of the struggle against matter.

Intermediary Movement: To Battle
From its earliest days, Carmela’s work is based on a certain dimension of the ethereal. Her CLOUDS (1967) and, especially, her PROJECT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A SKY (1981) shows us an artist at battle with something whose form escapes her. Also interested in the “ambiguous swagger”[14] that is so common to art, Carmela nevertheless fails to set herself on the path to “abstraction” or “formlessness”, as noted by Paulo Miyada in the text he wrote for this volume. Instead, she chooses to battle the physical and conceptual malleability of materials, experimenting with ways of forging (STAMPS, 1978), measuring (ONE TO (:1), 1982) and exhausting them (KNIVES, 1994), among so many other operations that reveal her concerns with the ethical and political implications of the exercise of art in its testing of intentionalities and efficacies, reverberating the constructive matrix with which Carmela maintains a dialogue.
Her battle also covers configurations of inexhaustible materialities; that is to say, she proposing situations and objects that contain within themselves devices that allow them to continuously avoid the gesture that hopes to exhaust them. Whereas works such as KNIVES lead the confrontation with matter to expressive limits, there are, in Carmela Gross, also works that will lead this clash to be cannibalized by its own functioning, in the device’s response against matter. Hence the importance of the hinge in her trajectory, a key element in the creation of pieces of combinatory logic. Repositioning the dispute between the parts, these works establish, on the other hand, procedures of a “participatory” nature in which the confrontation of alterities is not only predicted but fundamentally integrates their very structure and identity. This is precisely what takes place in CLOSE THE DOOR (1997) and FLOODED SPACES (2000) and, in a broader sense, in PROPELLERS (1993), DARLENES (2014) or SCHOOL STAIRS (2016).
Further upholding these two modes of battle there is a sense of reversibility or its opposite, the experience of the irreversible. While the inconvertible nature of the gesture lays the foundations for the “multiplying itself on the outside” that is dear to Carmela – as is the case in 300 LARVAE (1994) –, reversibility extrapolates the territory of the matter and becomes a kind of ethics of her oeuvre, evident in works such as HOTEL, FLESH (2006) or I AM DOLORES (2002), in which symmetry – and, therefore, the potential reversion – between states of existence is constantly called upon, or suggested, blurring positivist agreements and practices of the relationship between subjects and objects.
The titles of her works also function in their friction with the (ir)reversibility of existences. Like hinges, they point towards an ambition to baptize – the social confirmation of a state of things – and to the instability of all signic consecration, in an ambiguation the objective of which is “to create between work and title a disjunction between seeing and saying”.[15] Indicative of life’s potential reversibility, the articles that are part of her titles may be situated between the exemplary (THE BLACK WOMAN, 1997) and the generic (A HOUSE, 2007), since they are consciously subtracted and frequently pluralized in problematizing the archetypes and units that, ever since CLOUDS, have been of interest to Carmela Gross.

Movement Two: To Multiply On The Outside

It is fascinating to realize the discreet albeit uncommon difference between works such as KNIVES and REPTILES (2012). Having respectively emerged from the struggle with clay and aluminum, equally based on quantity – that is, on the repetition of the gestures of her own forging –, and conceived so as to take advantage of the threatening contrast between the horizontality of the ground and the verticality of our bodies, KNIVES and REPTILES are, nonetheless, revealingly distinct in terms of the centrality of the object’s specificity and its archetypal dimension.
“Indeed, many works consist of repetitions, of multiplications. Either they unfold in various units or they fragment themselves internally. (…) In the KNIVES(…), I inaugurated gestures. (…) The gesture itself contained its own exhaustion and the discovery of another gesture. Crushing, rolling, pulling, breaking; so there are different families with a given way of formalization. This morphology of the gesture continues as long as it questions; after that, it is exhausted.”[16] As is evident in the voice of Carmela Gross, what is at stake in KNIVES is not each unit of that diversity, nor less a taxonomic hypothesis. The “knife” form is less interesting than its formation, a morphological process that, like BODY OF IDEAS or ANTHEM TO THE FLAG, is not exactly producing thingness, but temporality: “It is as if the objects were set in parentheses, so that the work now produces itself in the abstract time-space that elapses between them.”[17] In its turn, unlike the infinite swagger of ANTHEM TO THE FLAG, its logical organization produces historicity, as noted by Sônia Salzstein in her essay on the work. In that sense, even though they “break on the inside” morphologically, the knives must also, in terms of identity, “multiply on the outside” so that they may be a critical notation about the passing of time. It is in the precise tension between de-individualizing itself as an integral part of a historical process and re-singularizing itself for retroactively producing it that the political clarity of the multiplication effect of Carmela Gross’s work is situated.

It must be understood that this proliferating nature is no synonym for repetition. Although, in STAMPS, the artist had dealt with a certain reproductive mechanicity, the overall emphasis of her works that use multiplicity as their bedrock is radically distant from reiteration. In its turn, it is a matter of the complexity of the processes of (dis)identification that connect and contrast different systems of otherness, from the individual to the mob. Not for nothing, generally, those of her works that multiply on the outside are linked to the social dimensions of subjectivation: they are extras, passersby, immigrants, animals, women, people – groups, Dolores, Luzia, Aurora.
In Carmela’s work, it should be underscored that, even before (dis)identification became a political consideration of society, her contention with images – in a process that transits between explosion and multiplication – has always been fertile terrain. In the 1970s, the artist was part of a group of experiments with “new media”, made in collaboration with the USP and with Walter Zanini as interlocutor. Starting with technologies to which they had access (through the university, friends, companies, etc.), artists like Carmela, Marcelo Nitsche, Regina Silveira, Julio Plaza and Cláudio Mubarac carried out cooperative experiments with the possibilities of the photocopy, of heliography, of faxes, of video-texts, of microfilm, of computers. They produced the intersection of those then “new media” with traditional languages within the field of art, such as drawing and engraving, in an experimental hybridism that gave rise to the practice of “inter-semiotic translation” so typical of that decade and the next one, and equally present in many of the simplest gestures of Gross’s work, such as the transformation of graffiti into calligraphy and of the latter into neon (THE DUDEZ BEAT IT, 2000). In Carmela’s words, this is a matter of a process of “translating the translation of the translation”[18] that founded a practice of desidentification in her work, as revealed to us in QUASARS (1983), which emerged from “a sequence of photo-mechanical operations” that “sought to deconstruct images compromised with illustration and representation”.[19]
Like BODY OF IDEAS, QUASARS is also based on the appropriation of images taken from encyclopedias and manuals that, sequestered from their original contexts, were later photocopied, photographed, unfocused, enlarged, and printed – “submitted to successive metamorphoses through the use of technical procedures”[20] – so as to dis-identify themselves completely, becoming stains, shadows, presences “impalpable – concrete on the materiality of the paper, but illusory”.[21] In this cascade of translations between techniques and languages, they forswear all referentiality — whence the cosmic title, then equivalent to one of astronomy’s indicial mysteries. With no links to origin or purpose, the QUASARS socially denaturalize themselves, rejecting ontologies in favor of a continuous political process of subjectivation that is pregnant with disidentification.

The identities that, since then, have come to occupy the work of Carmela Gross, do so as unequal-in-themselves,[22] broken within and multiplied without. On one hand, these identities are always multitude, as in BAND (2016), MIGRANTS (2014) or EXTRAS (2016); they politicize the strength of collectivity because they tension social and cultural prejudice about the masses, the working class, the rabble. In EXTRAS, the neon sign incandesces us with its reference to pickpockets, ex-convicts, con men, hustlers, tramps, decadent ruffians and deadbeats of every sort,[23] in a “strange retinue of dubious figures”.[24] In BAND, specters of every type of animal surround us spatially to make up a “lurking horde” that politically redistributes the patrolling and social menace of which they have historically been victims, animals or people. Aside from moving in groups, identities are also intensely split, as in I AM DOLORES, a key work in the trajectory of Carmela Gross that, by inciting the dimension of exteriority that is immanent to us, politically exposes systems of otherness.
Whereas the artist has propagated women’s names throughout the world, as in AURORA (2003) or LUZIA (2004) – large neon signs that are like beacons to identities at once spectral and ordinary – it is in I AM DOLORES that these identities undergo an important transformation: they multiply on the inside. By crossing through walls, behaving itself like some great diagonal that crosses the city, the giant sign performs, in space, that which incites subjectivity: a transversal relationship between the most calcified binomials in “Western” cultures: I-other. From a signic perspective, I AM DOLORES takes advantage of the meaning of dolor(pain) to allude to a fashionable capitalist idea of empathy, in which “to place oneself in the place of the other” would be an ethical horizon of otherness, in a politics of tolerance based on the ability to understand itself as the other, to “feel the pain of the other”. However, given the violence of the diagonal that pits and pierces, the formal weight of its objectual entirety and its inflamed luminosity, I AM DOLORES induces a perspective that is surely not saccharine empathy, warning us of a politics of possession and property that are inextricable parts of a system of otherness. I do not feel like Dolores, nor do I put myself in her place: I am Dolores. I took her and, retroactively, she revolutionized me. We are no longer who we once were because we mutually occupy our social, subjective, ethical and political places. Now we are also more than one and, potentially, many. It is a movement of dis-identification that, in suppressing any information about who we were, also does not locate this system of otherness within a specific context. Like its light, I am Dolores becomes the lurking specter of an entire society.
Its incandescent redness tells us the obvious, albeit forbidden: people are a dangerous thing. Not by chance, when Carmela Gross proposed putting up a sign with the phrase REAL PEOPLE / ARE DANGEROUS (2008) on a pedestrian footbridge in New Zealand, local authorities blocked the second part of the statement, so those real people continued to be undangerous, protected from the image of the revolutionary force of their own condition as a mob. Safeguarded from the idea of a multiple generic that would ultimately be absolute.

Final Movement: Resetting Art
As Carmela Gross warned us, the question is that even when engaged with an ART UNDER ARMS (2009, p. 146), an artist in these parts cannot merely grunt. Her weapon is also that which neutralizes her, constantly compelling her to convince as a survival strategy in the face of political projects that seek her amortization – and which now, in October of 2017, appear to be largely reinvigorated. Perhaps this is why, here and there, within her programatically insufficient discursiveness, Carmela lets slip her ambition to act with a zero coefficient of art.


[1] We met on Saturday, August 12, 2017, and our conversation gave rise to some of the principal insights put forth in this text.
[2] GROSS, Carmela. Escadas – Carmela Gross. Rio de Janeiro: Casa França-Brasil, 2013, exhibition catalogue, June 5 to July 28, 2013. Ed. Marta Bogéa, p. 92.
[3] CASTRO, Eduardo Viveiros de. “A imanência do inimigo”. In: A inconstância da alma selvagemSão Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2011, p. 292.
[4] Artist’s statement published in the text “Fronteiras do olhar”, by Angélica de Moraes. Veja magazine, São Paulo, November 1, 1989.
[5] CASTRO, Eduardo Viveiros de, op. cit.
[6] Cf. CHAUi, Marilena. “Crítica e ideologia” (1977). In: O discurso competente e outras falasSão Paulo: Cortez, 2011, p. 32.
[7] Ana Maria Belluzzo, who has written the most and best about Carmela’s work, notes this operation and declares that Gross’s work “omits constants that might allow for the recognition of nexuses and principles of order”. Belluzzo apud Alambert (unpublished).
[8] Cf., in this volume, Carmela Gross’s commentary on the work HOTEL.
[9] Artist’s statement. Carmela Gross. In: GROSS, Carmela. Escadas – Carmela Gross. Rio de Janeiro: Casa França-Brasil, 2013, exhibition catalogue, June 5 to July 28, 2013, ed. Marta Bogéa, p. 111.
[10] Idem.
[11] GROSS, Carmela. Arte à mão armada. Rio de Janeiro: Endora Arte Produções, 2017, exhibition catalogue of work shown at the Chácara Lane from September 3, 2016 to April 9, 2017, and at the Morumbi Chapel from September 4, 2016 to March 5, 2017, and curated by Douglas de Freitas.
[12] MOTTA, Flávio. “É o B-A-BÁ” (1977). In: GROSS, Carmela. Carmela Gross – Desenhos. São Paulo: Gabinete de Artes Gráficas, 1977.
[13] Cf., in this volume, Carmela Gross’s commentary on the work ANTHEM TO THE FLAG.
[14] Carmela Gross, as quoted in a text for the Clube dos Colecionadores de Fotografia do MAM-SP, 2015, p. 63.
[15] Artist’s statement. Carmela Gross. In: GROSS, Carmela. Escadas – Carmela Gross.Rio de Janeiro: Casa França-Brasil, 2013, exhibition catalogue, June 5 to July 28, 2013, ed. Marta Bogéa, p. 109.
[16] Ibidem, p. 98.
[17] SALZSTEIN, Sônia. “Desgaste, historicidade e mudança”. In: GROSS, Carmela. Facas. Rio de Janeiro: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, 1994, pp. 5-7.
[18] In a statement to the author.
[19] Cf., in this volume, Carmela Gross’s commentary on the work QUASARS.
[20] Idem.
[21] Idem.
[22] PÉLBART, Peter Pal. “Imagens do (nosso) tempo”. In: FURTADO, Beatriz (ed.). Imagem contemporânea: cinema, TV, documentário, fotografia, videoarte, games…Vol. 2. São Paulo: Hedra, 2009, p. 31-32.
[23] The work specifies the members of the Band of the 10th of December mentioned by Karl Marx in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852).
[24] Cf., in this volume, Carmela Gross’s commentary on the work EXTRAS.


Published in:
FREITAS, Douglas de (org.). Carmela Gross. Rio de Janeiro : Cobogó, 2017.

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