THE TOXIC BEAUTY OF NAZARETH PACHECO’S MERCURIAL MINIMALISM . JULIANA MONACHESI
Observing Nazareth Pacheco’s recent work, I find myself thinking about certain maxims of minimalism: “One thing after another,” which Donald Judd espoused as a principle of ordering for avoiding formal composition; “What you see is what you see,” the famous phrase by Frank Stella to foil the minimalist complexity, emphasizing its literal aspect; and Tony Smith’s “There is no way you can frame it, you just have to experience it,” in regard to transgressing the institutional limits of art and the rebirth of the spectator.
If we were to apply Hal Foster’s notion that there have been two main lines that define the neo-avant-garde from the 1960s to our days – the minimalist genealogy and the pop genealogy – it is in the former that Nazareth’s work finds its interlocutors. This is because the apparent coldness of her works and their absence of narrativity are very distant from the passion for the sign and from the discourse of trauma that characterizes the pop genealogy, but, on the other hand, they are absolutely in sync with the subversion of representation, the emphasis on the presence of art objects and the phenomenological game between the body and the artwork that delineate the minimalist genealogy.
We will see if this is the case. The material used in the body and/or enclosure of the works featured in the present show is industrially produced, cut and finished acrylic. The elements that are not made of acrylic are all serialized: bronze anvils, bronze gametes and braids, silver drops, bronze clothes hangers, and photographs. Even the material that plays a leading role in the exhibition and which can inspire symbolic flights of whimsy – mercury – takes on a serialized industrial status in the way it is presented. The arrangement of the works, the display modes, as well as the internal ordering of each artwork all function together to silence, if not annul, the metaphoric associations. They are pure presence, pure perplexity.
It turns out that they are forms and materials to experience: the pristine scale weights, the interconnected anvils, the toxic beauty of the mercury, the fascination of the immaculate clothes rack with its empty golden clothes hangers. A pure presence to generate perplexity through resistance to the “meaning.” Other neo-avant-gardists of this genealogy often produce the same effect: consider the recent works by Carlito Carvalhosa, Jac Leirner, and Iran do Espírito Santo. They subvert the representation and weaken the referential logic of the objects they use by arranging them one after another, in a series. The four artists, Nazareth, Carlito, Jac, and Iran – also have their strategies to “contaminate” the minimalist reference, like good Latin Americans.
The contamination brought about by Nazareth Pacheco in the current set of artworks is, in my view, the serialization of archaic forms. In the choice of tools and devices of vernacular (or primitive) design, the artist points to a connection between what is repeated in the postindustrial velocity of late capitalism and what is gradually reiterated in the primordial order. In this rupture from the austerity of minimalism, the artist opens a space for the emergence of memories in the contact with her works. And it is in this interval of suspension that each visitor will gain to access the work’s meaning.