Curated by: Veronica Cordeiro
Brazilian artist and filmmaker Cao Guimarães’s first solo exhibition in Paris comprises a concise selection of photographs from three different series and five short films spanning work produced in the last ten years.
Gambiarras is a work in progress begun in 2001, composed of an archive of over one hundred photographs to date, twenty of which will be on show. Appropriating a Portuguese term that designates the act of creating an improvised solution to something that has broken – usually an industrial object, but also resourcefully crafted situations that might not have existed before – Gambiarras can be seen as an anthropological mapping of the ingeniousness and creativity that result from limited means and informal, unreliable markets and societies. Attracted more by the poetry than the documentation and critique, Guimarães comments on the spontaneity inherent in the everyday of Brazilian/ Latin American/ Third World experience. A window that won’t stay open is held by a chopping board; a torn bra strip is “fixed” with a paper clip; the loose wires in a 1950s car ignition are joined by clothes pegs, and so on. Complementing this series is a 30-minute short, Mestres da Gambiarra [Gambiarra Masters] portraying unique Brazilian creators explaining their inventions.
Guimarães calmly ignores the ever-increasing acceleration of time, and in his slower transition through the margins of urban experience, he observes things most people have lost touch with. His photographs and films introduce these common day occurrences with absolutely no ulterior message, no particular cleverness to be decrypted, they are instances of suspension from our internalized and automated lives – they capture the poetic in its very essence. Two new videos document the behaviour of water in relation to different contexts: one evokes the erotic effect of repetitive movement caused by the water currents in Venice (Sculpture, 2010), while the other brings forth the subtlety of chance as water finds different paths along the wedges of a stone pavement in the interior of Minas Gerais (Drawing, 2010). Projected in a dark room will feature an older film, shot on Super-8 in the Amazonian region of Pará, North of Brazil. Da janela do meu quarto [From my bedroom window] (2004), observes two teenagers wrestling on the mud under the rain – their different indigenous and mulato features turn this simple childhood affair into a near allegory of Brazilian culture and historical constitution. Dia de festa [Party time] (2010) and Meiodia em Melo [Midday in Melo] (2011), were both produced in Uruguay, the first in Montevideo city, the second in a northern town bordering the South of Brazil. Dia de festa was produced in collaboration with fellow artist Carolina Cordeiro, who intervenes on an overgrown lawn personalising an otherwise disregarded commonality of nature – wild grass – by turning batches into carefully woven braids. Meiodia em Melo, on the other hand, is a colourful, almost painterly composition of iron and wooden swings photographed in a public childrens park, where no children are playing.
Since the early 1990s, Guimarães has produced six feature-length poetic documentaries and fiction films, and over twenty shorts, which have participated and won awards in festivals such as Locarno International Film Festival, Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia, Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Cinema du Réel, International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam – IDFA, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival, São Paulo and Rio International Film Festivals, among many others. His photographs, video installations and short films have been shown at various museums and galleries such as Tate Modern, Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art NY, Gasworks Gallery London, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Studio Guenzani, Milano, Galeria La Caja Negra, Madrid and Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, as well as participating in biennials such as the XXV and XXVII Bienal de São Paulo (2002, 2006) and Insite 2005 (San Diego/ Tijuana).
Cao Guimarães was born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil in 1965, where he still lives and works.