PROJECTS - 28TH SÃO PAULO BIENAL, 2008 São Paulo Brazil
Justo Pastor Mellado is an art critic and independent curator. He lives in Santiago.
Justo Pastor Mellado: I think of an analytical unfolding of the concept of parallax. Marti Perán points out that, in your work, parallax is the only tool to face what you call “visual collapse.” Regarding the Bienal de São Paulo, I wonder if it is not possible to imagine it as a tool; or rather as a device for registering and measuring the contradictions of the Brazilian art system, in the sense that it allows for the production of transparency based on its symptomatic position of “institutional collapse.” The credibility of the modern project, represented by the physicality of Oscar Niemeyer’s building, has been cast into doubt by a certain type of artistic practice that would be irreducible to the exhibition model that it sustains. The institutional collapse would be related to the Bienal’s “optical and political” impossibility as a device for social refraction, for making clear the kind of art that our time demands.
Alexander Pilis: I agree, but not every day. The parallax depends on the point of view. My research has often returned to Niemeyer. As pure research there is no end to it. As applied research, there are specific outcomes as visual projects and texts. It is not my intention, however, to demonize him or his work. And while his work and vision has had a profound impact on Brazil, and is recognized internationally, it is only one aspect of what we might call the modern project. The parallax is my methodology to investigate this and other aspects of the built environment in our own time. It can have many dimensions social, political, structural, and theoretical.
“Parallax, n. Apparent displacement, or difference in the apparent position, of an object, caused by actual change (or difference) of position of the point of observation.” Oxford English Dictionary
I can’t speak for other artists, in Brazil or anywhere else in the world where I have lived and worked. We all make choices when and where to exhibit. This must include the thousands who have exhibited in the Niemeyer pavilion over its history, without giving up their principles. The same can be said for artists who exhibit at Tate Modern. Do they interrogate the history and politics of the building or the agenda of its current occupants? Transparency for me, and the work I do, is embodied in how I work a collaborative process with colleagues, students, and the public. In the spirit of this enterprise, it is important not to fall into rhetoric. Now, after close to 30 years of work, I can say that life is the project.
TOWARD AN ARCHITECTURE PARALLAX
Instinctively, I knew that an investigation could not be developed through the lens of modernity without vomiting an European-Western classical model of thought regarding projection, distance, movement and reflection. The modern paradox, an argument of opposition to what came before, was irrelevant to the existing conditions, how this megalopolis São Paulo, as an example developed in a short time and came to be. I had to devise another working praxis, an instrument. The Parallax theorem became the instrument and methodology.
This is a place where the individual has the possibility of moving unnoticed through the various levels horizontally, vertically and obliquely as if an anarchist, or even a body had disappeared. This metropolis has disappeared and appeared various times in its construction history and it defies any central, established order of the continuum, the historical map of city building.
There is no past and no future, and I forgot the present.
Justo Pastor Mellado