BOOKS Exhibition
Oduvaldo Vianna Filho Cultural Center – Rio de Janeiro
Curator: Alberto Saraiva

HELENA TRINDADE: THE VERB IS IMAGE
Alberto Saraiva

The genealogy of Helena Trindade’s work has its origin punctually in the image and the word. In the image, via painting – through the plasticity of the construction and its material particularities. In the word, via poetry – its entrance being the modernity of Apollinaire (1880-1918), whose calligrams insufflated a way to get over the classical disjunction between image and text. Apollinaire’s proximity and dialogue with modern painters made it possible for the poem to become open to the image through the plastic arts. This becomes clearer as Mallarmé (1842-1898), on the other hand, with his throw of the dice, arrives at the image through the structure of the poem itself: the word and the space on the blank page. This outlined genealogy leads to historical crossings and intersections which, in Helena Trindade’s case, go directly along with the production of artists/poets such as Joan Brossa and Nicanor Parra, whose work extrapolates the dimension of the object/word or the so-called poem-object. According to Adolfo Montejo Navas, it’s “a new tridimensionality of the expanded poetry, a sort of sculpture that’s almost always small-shaped, a chamber operation which links the material and the imaginary, made of condensations and displacements…” (Joan Brossa, desde Barcelona al Nuevo Mundo – “Entre la poesía y el objeto”, p.73).

The artist’s work creates an expectation of prolonging this reflection originated in the painting and the text, and, although this might seem to us like a problem that has already been solved, I believe there are always additional stalemates which invariably culminate in situations of new unfoldments. See works by Luciano Figueiredo, Lenora de Barros, Jenny Holzer, and Gary Hill. However, in Helena’s work, there’s a conceptualism that stands out, that stems out of the convergence between image and text: the focus on the idea of the book as the basic unit in a library directs the attention to a universe that goes from the book to architecture and from architecture to man. The book becomes a link in man’s perception of the world, but, more importantly, of the contents found in the passage between realities.

The conceptual construction of space always comes from the idea that its objects and books have the ability to transform the environment where they are installed into that which relates to its primeval nature. Therefore the intervention tends to reanimate the rooms, going back to them, recreating them: Biblioteca encarnada (Incarnate library), Sala em branco (Blank room), Biblioteca negra (Black library), Corredor para a carta evanescente (Corridor to the evanescent letter), Quarto do oráculo (Room of the oracle), Varanda (Balcony), Quarto do sonho (Dream room), Quarto do tempo (Time room), and Conversa na escadaria (Conversation in the staircase). Of course, we could think of a conversation that really took place in the house, but this would be a type of memory, which is not the case. It would be better to talk about symptom, about a bunch of conversations or accounts of the house itself, about symbolic inscriptions that blossom in the body of the house: the incarnate letter, in this sense of carnation/incarnation that the artist’s work promotes in a given environment. The reconstruction of the rooms in a house reveals sensitive mechanisms that are common to all inhabited houses. These mechanisms would not only come before the interpersonal relationships of the inhabitants/family, but also before the way rooms are articulated and the way spaces are organized, a determinant factor in those same relationships. This is how the same modern concept of residence that made the spaces more ambiguous and transformable, certainly also affected the disposition of human relationships. Therefore, the different usage in a cultural center, a house, a museum, or an adapted space results in differentiated treatments by the artist, geared towards its architectural and life structure or, yet, towards lifestyles and actions through which that building may attain existence.

Rio de Janeiro, February 2008

Rio de Janeiro City Hall – RJ – Brazil

Installation Art