Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, São Paulo
Sep. 4–Dec. 5, 2021
Chief curator: Jacopo Crivelli Visconti
Adjunct curator: Paulo Miyada
Guest curators: Carla Zaccagnini, Francesco Stocchi and Ruth Estévez
Guest curator for publications: Elvira Dyangani Ose, Director of The Showroom, London
Your voice on the telephone was very distorted, very deep, and I was left in a state of great distress afterward. The physical contact of a voice is so strong, so much a presence, that it makes you realize the futility of the written word. My distress is an echo of yours, having felt it so keenly, and I really do not know anymore what I can do to put both of us on our feet again.
—A letter from Marcel Duchamp to Maria Martins, May 13th, 1951
This desperate love letter, passionate in a way utterly uncharacteristic of Duchamp, was posted immediately before the First São Paolo Biennale was held in 1951. The definitive distance created by Martins’s decision to go back with her husband to Brazil became an “insurmountable geographical obstacle” (Michael R. Taylor), putting an end to her relationship with Duchamp in the fall of that year.
Duchamp had previously given form in his Large Glass to the distance between male (the Bachelors) and female (the Bride). In this work, the male desire, turned into invisible “splashes,” courses through a variety of apparatuses to eventually leave nine bullet holes in the realm of the female. They will be the indirect force for the female’s spontaneous undressing.
* * *
During a year of COVID-19, how much did we think about invisible beings?
We put definitive distance between ourselves to avoid the invisible virus.
Communication via the Internet made us realize its futility, made us yearn for the physical contact of a voice that is so much a presence.
Voice, along with splash of desire, become a medium that carries the virus, tearing people even further apart.
The voice, distorted by the distance and left in a state of great distress, does not know anymore what it can do . . . . “I Can’t Hear You” (Daisetz).
The distorted voice, the invisible splash, and the holes left by the shots across distance—these will be transformed into a sound installation with rotating speakers, cables, and a set of radios.
The 34th Bienal de São Paulo: Though It’s Dark, Still I Sing [group]