(Text written for the exhibition "Ambiente Moderno", held in january of 2021 at Fundação Ecarta, Porto Alegre/RS)
It's interesting to notice: images teach us a lot. In the form of maps, microscopic enlargements or models and diagrams - the examples are numberless - they allow us to see abstract concepts, minimal realities or gigantic areas.
And not only. Through them, we can imagine ourselves in scenes, projecting ourselves in unknown situations and places - or be taken, as marketing and pornography do, to unsuspected instances of desire. Ambiente Moderno, Gabriel Pessoto's solo exhibit, feeds on this universe, between pedagogy and advertising, that certain images inhabit. Part of an investigation that is also developed in other projects and works, the exhibition includes installations, photographs, videos, GIFs and drawings in which Pessoto appropriates content from sewing and craft magazines, rereading the product instructions and the images published. The different forms of appropriation of these contents give the set of works gathered here a rich intersection of meanings, where reflections on the technique of images, their politics and our constructions of gender are combined.
For appropriation establishes its displacements and raises questions. In some works, Pessoto emulates decorative photographs in which - unlike images of the ideal home, where each family member fulfills their role to perfection - the embroidery, produced and photographed were applied to towels, pillow cases and napkins made of manilha paper, known pink paper used in the packaging of various products. The material, inadequate for the production of these objects, reinforces the artificial aspect of the sets of the magazines on which the artist bases and underlines the fanciful character of its images and its statements.
Other works deepen the distrust of appearances that, in different ways, permeates the exhibition. In the table installation, the objects - made of fabric when they should be ceramic, or of paper when they should be fabric - do not disguise their inadequacy and dysfunctionality, In certain videos, the color fields of the original videos were replaced by excerpts of gay pornography, as if these allowed a glimpse of what actually happens in the idealized environments of the magazines. In other cases, the titles of the works, taken from these same publications, highlight an imaginary from another time around domestic and conjugal space. Thereby, the revealing gesture indicates the political dimension of Gabriel Pessoto's practice: because if the universe of images in which the work appears is guided by pedagogy and advertising, it is essential to distrust it and seek to shed light on the cultural imaginary that shapes it - and that, in return, he helps shape.
In the case of Ambiente Moderno, this imaginary clearly demarcates gender distinctions: the magazines on which the artist bases the works are mostly aimed at the female audience, responsible for the delicate manual work dedicated to the home. Therefore, they intend to teach not only embroidery and decoration, but also ways of behavior and life for whom the mastery of certain techniques would represent a place of distinction and prominence. In this universe, images and texts assume an insidious moralizing character; the artist acts to divert them from their purpose and to invert them, using them to his advantage.
They are poetic procedures permeated by humor and attention to everyday objects; the emulation of an imagery and discursive repertoire around the domestic and conjugal space reveals its prosaic dimension, in some cases pathetic, and how certain constructs that organize it flatten, sometimes blindly, our subjective repertoire. Thus, Pessoto at the same time highlights the historical character of our social imaginary and sheds light on the political dimension of images and their production techniques. In a world saturated with imaginary commodities, these are fundamental gestures to understand not only the repertoire that forms us, but also the coming and going of the present and our horizons of freedom.
Gabriel Bogosian, 2020
Gabriel Bogossian is an independent curator and writer. His investigations approach the remnants of colonialism, often linking contemporary art to different fields of visual culture, such as journalism and social movements. He was the curator of the 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil | Imagined Communities (São Paulo, 2019) and Screen City Biennial 2019 - Ecologies: Lost, Found and Continued (Stavanger, 2019), as well as assistant curator of Galpão VB (2016-2020). He translated Americanism and Fordism, by Antonio Gramsci, and Quiet Chaos, by Sandro Veronesi.