The height of the ceiling is only 45 centimeters. At the back of the room a person, physically disabled, lies in a corner on the ground. The viewer must crouch or lie down to discover and experience the piece. Visitors of the performance exhibition 14 Rooms, held at Messe Basel during Art Basel in 2014, could not have missed this performance of the Brazilian artist Laura Lima (1971).
Human behavior and social dynamics play a central role in Lima’s art. Her work is midway between performance, sculpture and installation. She prefers to describe her work as scenarios or instructions. They are dynamic, theatrical situations that have to be activated by humans and animals. Her output is founded in a long Brazilian tradition of ‘propositions’ and neo-concretism of artists as Lygia Pape (1927-2004), Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) and Lygia Clark (1920-1988). The ‘proposition’ is often interpreted as an attempt by the artists to connect with their audience. But for Lima this interaction model could also be linked to the broader context of the Brazilian art institute, which is constantly looking for funding and political support.
Puxador (Pilares) (1998-2011) from the series Man=Flesh/Woman=Flesh is a performance/installation where a naked man with a harness of two straps on his shoulders pulls a network of long black belts wrapped around the columns of the space. As a kind of superman the man uses all his body strength in an attempt to subvert the architectural foundations of the institute.
Based on strength the performer will never accomplish this task, the artwork receives its shape only by the mental and physical effort.
Lima is also fascinated in the energy of carnival and circus. A work as Gala Chicken and Gala Coop (2004-2011) is a good example. The work is a metaphor for social order and the norms it imposes. Lima explores this via chickens in a homemade chicken coop. She adorned each chicken with colorful feathers which recalls the disguised revelers of the popular carnival tradition in Brazil.
With the human body and animals as eternal sources of inspiration Lima has a barrel full of material to continue her exploration and experiment of her version of the traditional Brazilian ‘propositions’.
the fifth floor – Laura Lima, Laureaat Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art 2014 was on view until 11 January 2015 at Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht
Laura Lima was on view until 30 November 2014 at Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm