A Natural History of Ruins at Pivô / São Paulo

A Natural History of Ruins with artists Candice Lin, Cristiano Lenhardt, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, David Bestué, DenilsonBaniwa, Elvira Espejo Ayca, Isuma, Janaina Wagner, Lina Mazenett and David Quiroga,Louidgi Beltrame, max wíllà morais, Minia Biabiany, Paloma Bosquê, Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe.  Curated by Catalina Lozano, curatorial assistance by María Emilia Fernanández.

February 20 - April 17, 2021 (Currently closed due to COVID-19 healthy regulations)

Pivô
Avenida Ipiranga, 200
São Paulo, Brazil

A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
Minia Biabiany, ki jan van lévé èvè souf an syèl [how does the wind blow with sulphur in the sky], 2021. (Soil, cotton thread and nails). Installation view.
max wíllà morais, Drawings, 2021. (Color pencil on paper). Various dimensions. Installation view.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
Minia Biabiany, ki jan van lévé èvè souf an syèl [how does the wind blow with sulphur in the sky], 2021. (Soil, cotton thread and nails). Installation view.
Candice Lin, Whole New Animal, 2012. (Digital video). 20 min 21 sec. Installation view.
Elvira Espejo Ayca, Jiwasan amayusa / El pensar de nuestras filosofías, 2019 (Video). 5 min 37 sec. Installation view.
Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Quebreira, 2013 (Monochannel sound, speaker, metal stand). 23 min 08 sec. Installation view.

Janaina Wagner, Lobisomem, 2016 (Video). 18 min 16 sec. Installation view.

A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
Louidgi Beltrame, La Centinela, 2018 (Super-8 transferred to HD, mute). 2 min 6 sec. Installation view.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
David Bestué, Focos Flores, 2021(Sugar and natural petal flower dye). Installation view.
David Bestué, Focos Flores, 2021(Sugar and natural petal flower dye). Detail.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Phasmides, 2008 / 2012 (16mm film transferred to HD video). 22 min 41 sec. Installation view.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
max wíllà morais, esteira frutas e legumes leve, 2021 (Straw mat, net, sisal, fruits) Variable dimensions. Installation view.
max wíllà morais, chapéu para dança, 2021 (Straw, variable dimensions). Installation view.

Cristiano Lenhardt, Terraças, 2019 (Painting with clay, coal, turmeric, and urucum on cotton fabric), Installation view.

A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Fantomas, 2021 (9 aluminum profiles hanging by aluminum chains from the ceiling). Installation view.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.
A Natural History of Ruins, exhibition view, Pivô, São Paulo, 2021.

All images courtesy and copyright of Pivô and the artists. Photos: Everton Ballardin

Pivô opens its 2021 exhibitions program* with the group-show A Natural History of Ruins, starting on February 20. The exhibition proposes a critical review of the modern distinction between culture and nature, by bringing together the work of a singular group of fifteen artists, from different contexts and generations, some of them presenting their work in Brazil for the first time.


The implications of representation outside of language and other-than-human forms of intelligence are in the center of Lozano's curatorial project. She explains: "At the core of the exhibition, there is a critique of the modern divide between nature and culture and its ontological implications. Through a series of historical processes, some humans separated themselves from nature and therefore fabricated it as a category. Lozano ads: "Colonial regimes spread this notion through education and exploitation, normalizing nature as a ‘resource’ at humans’ disposal. It is largely through the knowledge and ecological practices of Indigenous peoples that these functioning colonial categories can be productively challenged."


The exhibition is an opportunity to think about healing in what anthropologist Anna Tsing calls a ‘precarious survival’:  the multispecies life reacting to human violence in the ruined landscape of capitalism. "The ruins produced in the present can be partially considered as the projection of a modernist unconscious", says the curator.


Through a plurality of practices and different media, such as paintings, installations, videos, and sound performances, the artists in the exhibition, in Lozano’s words, "tackle the brutality of modern binary categories and practices". 


Some highlights: 


In Mesa Curandera (2018), French artist Louidgi Beltrame  documents healing ceremonies with the San Pedro cactus promoted by a shaman in Peru; Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change (2009), by the Inuit art and media collective Isuma, which occupied the Canadian pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2019, is the first documentary made in the Inuktitut language on the theme of global warming; the delicate drawings of the Yanomami Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe describe the shapes and marks left by animals and plants that are part of the environment where he lives, in the Venezuelan Upper Orinoco; made especially for the project by Spanish artist David Bestué, the series of new works is inspired by Brazilian poet Ferreira Gullar's Poema Sujo [Dirty Poem]; A Whole New Animal (2012), video by American Candice Lin, interrogates the stories of colonialism and imperialism in Brazil, USA and Belgium; and the participation of two young Brazilian artists Janaina Wagner, with the video Lobisomem (2016) [Werewolf], and max wíllà morais, who will  with newly commissioned works. 


*Pivô's 2021 program is based on the reading made by anthropologists Marisol de la Cadena and Milton Blaser of the pluriverse concept, as a world  encompassing many worlds This idea underscores the research of the artists involved in the exhibition program, and will also appear in a transversal way in all the institution's programs. Further information on the upcoming program can be accessed at www.pivo.org.br.


A Natural History of Ruins has the support of The General Consulate of France in São Paulo and Trampoline Association

A NATURAL HISTORY OF RUINS


A Natural History of Ruins is a group exhibition that explores different forms of resistance to the ways in which the hegemonic modern colonial imagery has captured our imagination. Drawing from diverse artistic practices, this exhibition seeks to offer opportunities to think about healing in what author Anna Tsing calls a ‘precarious survival’. It also attempts to address the implications of representation outside of language in order to explore other-than-human technologies and forms of intelligence.


At the core of the exhibition there is a critique to the modern divide between nature and culture and its ontological implications. Through a series of historical processes, some humans separated themselves from nature and therefore fabricated it as a category2. Colonial regimes spread this notion through education and exploitation, normalizing nature as a ‘resource’ at humans’ disposal.  As ethnographer Marisol de la Cadena points out “rather than the denial of humanity, colonization might have required in the first place the imposition of humanity to the colonized – and this entailed specific ways of being person3” For instance naming can be an act of colonial violence as pointed by Davi Kopenawa when he describes how white people arrived in the forest and distributed names to the Yanomami, imposing a (colonial, univocal) way of being person. In his book How Forests Think, Eduardo Khon proposes to “neither to do away with the human nor to reinscribe it but to open it4.” It is perhaps through this opening of categories how we can speculate on how non-human persons might participate in disturbing anthropocentric interpretations of extinction.


A Natural History of Ruins wants to think about the representation of ‘nature’ as much as it needs to rethink the nature of representation. Donna Haraway appropriately has sought to answer ‘what gets to count as nature, for whom and when, and how much it costs to produce nature at a particular moment in history for a particular group of people.’ She thus recognizes the historically situated processes and semiotic operations needed to, not only normalize nature as a colonial, imperial category, but also to produce and reproduce the category of the ‘universal man5’ as a dominant one. The notion of nature originally derived from the verb ‘to be born,’ that is to say, from the generation and experience of life, unlike the modern definition of it as “all things inhuman”, which implies an almost antagonistic relation based on a Christian binary division of soul and body that would be later secularized in European modernity as reason and body. By recognizing the genealogy of the word, we can perhaps imagine and perform something other than an anthropocentric, humanist morality. Furthermore is largely through the knowledge and ecological practices of Indigenous peoples that these functioning colonial categories have been productively challenged.


The transformation of ‘natural history’ museums into ‘natural science’ ones seems to suggest a rhetorical shift ‘history’ as a narrative exercise to ‘science’ as disinterested, objective observation that achieves the full separation of subjects (humans) from objects (non-human, other-than-human, but also human persons subjected to scientific research). In the process, history is politically neutralized, Western science devoid of the racism at the core of its foundation. By opening up dominant definitions of technology to include some that are not inherently attached to the Western notion of progress,art can lead towards a world of multiplicities where the centrality of the reality created by colonization can be finally unveiled as a brutal, yet efficacious construction bound towards an ill-fated image of progress. For Isabelle Stengers ‘ecology is the science of multiplicities, of motley casualties and of non-intentional creations of meaning6,’ a definition that evokes certain immanence of experience, that is to say, an unprescribed engagement with reality. Ailton Krenak defines it as ‘being inside the earth, within nature. Ecology is not you adapting nature to your will. It is you being inside the will of nature”7. In this way, the environmental ruins produced in the present can be partially considered as the projections of a modernist unconscious. 


The artists included in the exhibition tackle the brutality of modern binary categories and practices in order to show in different ways how things are entangled and in the words of artist max wíllà morais ‘to dance with the violence of the world.’ 


Catalina Lozano


¹ Donna Haraway Reads ‘The National Geographic’ on Primates (Paper Tiger TV, 1987). Available at https://vimeo.com/123872208


² In this sense, we acknowledge ‘nature’ as a cultural category.


³ Marisol de la Cadena, “Earth-beings: Andean indigenous religion, but not only,” in Keiichi Omura, Grant Jun Otsuki, Shiho Satsuka, Atsuro Morita (Eds.), The World Multiple: The Quotidian Politics of Knowing and Generating Entangled Worlds (Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2019), p. 30.


4 Eduardo Kohn.  How Forests Think: Towards an Anthropology beyond the Human (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2013), p. 6.


5 Donna Haraway Reads ‘The National Geographic’ on Primates (Paper Tiger TV, 1987). Available at https://vimeo.com/123872208


6Isabelle Stengers, La guerre des sciences (París y Le Plessis-Robinson: La Découverte/Les Empêcheurs de penser en rond, 1996), p. 61-62. Author’s translation.


7Ailton Krenak and Maurício Meirelles, “Our Worlds are at War,” (e-flux journal No. 110, June 2020), https://www.e-flux.com/journal/110/335038/our-worlds-are-at-war/

About the curator


Catalina Lozano (Bogota, 1979) is an independent curator and writer and KADIST’s Director of Programs in Latin America. For the past 10 years, she has been interested in minor narratives that question hegemonic forms of knowledge. The analyses of colonial narratives, as well as the deconstruction of the modern division between nature and culture, have acted as departure points for many of her recent and future curatorial and editorial projects such as the exhibitions The willow sees the heron’s image upside down (TEA, Tenerife, 2020), Le jour des esprits et notre nuit (CRAC Alsace, Altkirch, 2019, co-curated with Elfi Turpin), Winning by Losing (CentroCentro, Madrid, 2019), Ce qui ne sert pas s’oublie (CAPC, Bordeaux, 2015), A Machine Desires Instruction as a Garden Desires Discipline (MARCO Vigo, FRAC Lorraine, and Alhóndiga Bilbao, 2013-14), and the book Crawling Doubles: Colonial Collecting and Affects (B42, París), co-edited with Mathieu K. Abonnenc and Lotte Arndt. In 2018 her book The Cure was published by A.C.A. Public. Between 2017 and 2019 she was Associate Curator at Museo Jumex in Mexico City where she developed exhibition projects with Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca, Fernanda Gomes and Xavier Le Roy among other artists, and organized the exhibition Could Be (An Arrow). A Reading of La Colección Jumex. She was part of the artistic team of the 8th Berlin Biennale in 2014.


About the artists


Denilson Baniwa (1984) lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. The works of Denilson Baniwa (b. 1984 in Amazônia, Brazil) portray his experience as an indigenous Being today, mixing traditional and contemporary indigenous references and appropriating western icons to communicate the thinking and struggle of the native peoples. His practice includes different supports and media such as canvas, installations, digital media and performance. As an activist for the rights of indigenous peoples, since 2015 he has given lectures, workshops and courses in the south and southeast regions of Brazil and also in Bahia. Baniwa often appropriates Western cultural references to decolonise them in his work; he is known for questioning paradigms and opening ways for Indigenous people in national territories to be the protagonists of their own stories. 


David Bestué (Barcelona, 1980) lives and works in Barcelona. Artist and writer interested in the relationship between text, sculpture and architecture. His practice experiments with ideas taken from poetry, art history and architecture, testing out how far they can be pushed both literally and conceptually. By making small changes to public and domestic scenarios, his works create situations that question our conventions of behavior, and seek to establish temporary, fragile links between permanent forms and the presence of transient elements, both human and inanimate in the space.


Louidgi Beltrame (Marseille, 1972) lives and works in Mulhouse, France. Beltrame's work is based on documenting modes of human organization throughout the history of the 20th century. He often travels to sites defined by a paradigmatic relationship to modernity: Hiroshima, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Chandigarh, Tchernobyl or the mining colony of Gunkanjima, over the sea off Nagasaki. His films – based on the recording of reality and the constitution of an archive – appeal to fiction as a possible way to consider History. More recently, his projects brought him to archeological sites in the Peruvian coastal desert: El Brujo, Moche culture ruins and the Nazca Lines that he connected respectively with the history of French “New Wave” cinema and American Land art of the 70’s. In 2018 he completed Mesa curandera, a collaborative project with José Levis Picón, a Peruvian Shaman whom he met in 2015.


Paloma Bosquê (Garça, Brazil, 1982) lives and works in São Paulo. Her research draws largely on her daily practice in the studio where she manipulates and freely associates materials that are not typical of sculpture, creating compositions of varying formats and scales. In a constant search for a possible and consensual balance between her selected elements, the artist often develops specific methods to combine, juxtapose and merge materials without ever forcing them to a definitive interaction. Brass, felt, bronze, coal, gum rosin, bee’s wax, beef casing, craft paper, coffee sieves and wool are used indiscriminately by the artist. She is less concerned with the origins or potential symbolic value of each of the items than with their physical presence. Experimenting with the texture, weight and balance of her materials, Bosquê creates extremely delicate visual landscapes that explore the transience of matter and impermanence. Her works remind us of the fragility of the agreements that hold together everything we consider permanent or definitive


Minia Biabiany (Basse-Terre, Guadalupe, 1988) lives and works in Guadeloupe. She investigates the perception of space, the paradigms of weaving and the concept of opacity in storytelling and language. She deconstructs narratives through installations, videos and drawings and builds ephemeral poetic forms as a way to dialogue with colonial realities. She founded the artistic and pedagogical collective project Semillero Caribe in 2016 in Mexico City and she continues to explore the deconstruction of narratives with the body and concepts from Caribbean authors with her experimental pedagogical platform, Doukou.


Elvira Espejo Ayca (Ayllu Qaqachaka, 1981) is a visual artist, weaver and narrator of the tradition of her hometown (ayllu Qaqachaka, Avaroa province, Oruro). An Aymara and Quechua speaker, she is the co-author of several publications, including Hilos sueltos: Los Andes desde el textil (2007), Ciencia de las Mujeres (2010), Ciencia de Tejer en los Andes: Estructuras y técnicas de faz de urdimbre (2012) and El Textil Tridimensional: El Tejido como Objeto y como Sujeto (2013). She was the director of the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore in La Paz, Bolivia between 2013 and 2020, and she was granted the Eduardo Avaroa Award in the Arts, Specialty Native Textiles, in 2013.


Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe (Sheroana, Venezuela, 1971) lives and works in Pori Pori, Yanomami community in El Alto Orinoco, Venezuela. Since the 90s he has been developing a practice aimed at rescuing the oral memory of his people, their cosmogony and ancestral traditions including the craft of paper making, the edition of books prepared with his community, and more recently drawing as a tool to represent them. His experience in the field of creation began in 1992 when he learnt to make handmade paper with native fibers such as Shiki or Abaca, under the tutelage of Mexican artist Laura Anderson Barbata. Together they would found the Yanomami Owëmamotima community project (The Yanomami art of play paper), a pioneering and self-sustaining initiative from which the first handmade books have been published to date – written and illustrated – from a collective community experience.


Isuma, meaning ‘to think,’ is a collective of Inuit-owned related companies based since 1990 in Igloolik, Nunavut with a southern office in Montreal. In January 1990 four partners Zacharias Kunuk, Paul Apak, Pauloosie Qulitalik and Norman Cohn incorporated Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc. to produce and distribute independent Inuit-language films and media art from an Inuit point of view, featuring local actors recreating Inuit life in the Igloolik region in the 1930s and 1940s. Over the next ten years Isuma helped establish an Inuit media arts centre, NITV; a youth media and circus group, Artcirq; and a women's video collective, Arnait Video Productions. In 2001, Isuma’s first feature-length drama, Atanarjuat The Fast Runner, won the Camera d’or at the Cannes Film Festival; Isuma’s second feature, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, opened the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. In 2004 Isuma incorporated Isuma Distribution International and in 2008 launched IsumaTV www.isuma.tv, the world’s first website for Indigenous media art now showing over 7,000 films and videos in 84 languages. Isuma's 30-year media art project represented Canada at the 2019 Venice Biennale with its newest feature, One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, which then screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and won Best Canadian Film at the 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival.


Cristiano Lenhardt (Itaara, Brazil, 1975) lives and works in Recife. His work explores the narratives that intertwine pop culture and mass culture, the construction of myths and legends and a reflection on the ways that human beings, animals and objects relate to one another. His practice does not privilege one medium above another but rather encompasses film, performance, installation, sculpture, photography, drawing and engraving. The artist creates pieces that reference different sources, including folklore, art history, fantastical literature and science fiction, letting his research be guided not by pre-established concept but by a series of exercises in writing, drawing and the manipulation of materials of different origins – found items, both organic and inorganic, discarded elements, raw materials that come from other objects – which are gradually shaped, assembled, folded and brought to life.  


Candice Lin (Concord, USA, 1979) lives and works in Los Angeles. Lin works with installation, drawing, video, and living materials and processes. She interrogates the ways in which histories of power and marginality are inscribed into bodies and into the natural world, stressing the entanglements that compose them. She often creates sculptural environments that breathe, seep, ferment, and decay, working with an arsenal of sculptural forms that include finely crafted objects, organisms such as plants, insects, bacteria, and natural compounds. She received her MFA in New Genres at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004 and her double BA in Visual Arts and Art Semiotics at Brown University in 2001.


Lina Mazenett (Bogotá, 1989) and David Quiroga (Bogotá, 1985) live and work in Bogota, Colombia. Their projects explore the interrelationship between organisms and the misnamed “resources'' of the environment, their distribution and resignification through culture. The artists reflect on the temporality, origin, and symbolism of some fundamental elements of the world economy, such as various minerals and oil products that are very present in our daily lives, connecting humans with remote geological times. Their practice encompasses a wide range of mediums and is inspired by a dialogue between the mythology of Amazonian people and certain fields of western science such as geology, astronomy, and economy. Through their work they try to reconnect ordinary and everyday elements with ancient knowledge and mythical time.


max wíllà morais (Rio de Janeiro, 1993) lives and works in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Artist and writer, she studied Visual Arts at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (2016) and is currently a master's student in Education at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (2019-2021). She is a fellow at the School of Visual Arts at Parque Lage studying mediation (2014) and a scholar in the Formation and Deformation Program (2019-2020). His works of drawing, photography, sowing and performance mobilize stories and geographies, as well as the material and immaterial relations with the world and things. The artist also investigates the visible and invisible experiences of the black diaspora taking both familiar and unusual encounters as starting points. 


Daniel Steegmann Mangrané (Barcelona, 1977) lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. His work often examines the hazy area that exists between strictly oppositional notions in Western culture, such as culture and nature, subject and object, reality and reverie, seen and hidden. The artist frequently pairs diverse elements such as the natural with the artificial, or places them in alien environments. In doing so, the artist fabricates situations where predetermined hierarchies bow out and the boundaries of seemingly inverse things dissolve to provide new vistas of middle grounds. His practice encompasses a wide range of media, including film, sculpture, sound, gardens and drawing, focusing on the creation and migration of forms between nature, art and architecture. The artist is particularly interested in biological and morphogenetic processes, which he uses as inspiration for the creation of works that, responding to self-imposed systems of chance and rule-based principles of composition, undermine the boundaries between organic and man-made aesthetics and the traditional separations between objects and subjects.


Janaina Wagner (1989) lives and works between Roubaix, France and São Paulo. Her research explores how human beings attempt to control their environment, mainly through civilizing processes aimed at the domination of nature, ignoring its own fragility and finitude. Her practice encompasses a wide range of media, including installations, video, photography, drawing, painting and stage design. Many of Wagner’s references derive from the procedures through which mankind registers and articulates its progress and legacy. Having studied both Fine Arts and Journalism, she approaches and questions the mechanisms that validate a story as a true one – looking closely at each constellation of tales, facts and images. Wagner develops her plastic work in a “decoupage” process, rearticulating images and texts that are already inserted in media circulation. She is currently pursuing her Phd at Le Fresnoy-Studio National des Arts Contemporains in partnership with Centre d'Étude des Arts Contemporains (Le CEAC) at the Université de Lille.


About Pivô

Founded in 2012, Pivô is an autonomous art space that offers a platform for artistic experimentation and critical thinking by artists, curators, researchers and the general public. The program consists of exhibitions, residencies, public lectures and publications by local and international artists. To this day, the institution hosted over 150 residencies. Recent commissioning includes artists Katinka Bock, Eduardo Navarro, Erika Verzutti, Mário Garcia Torres, Letícia Ramos, Rodrigo Hernandez and the "imannam" group show by Ana Maria Maiolino, Ana Linneman and Laura Lima. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pivô suspended all public activities based at its headquarters, in the Copan building. Part of the program was adapted to the digital environment, such as its residency program, Pivô Research, conducted remotely. 

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