I WANT TO SEE . RICARDO RESENDE
Turning, spinning, twirling – that’s the feeling one gets while running down the monumental staircase designed by Lina Bo Bardi at the Solar do Unhão, in Salvador. Built in the 16th century, today the building is home to the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia.
In the middle of a large empty room, this “sculpture” that visitors go up and down is held together entirely by mortise and tenon joints among the various wooden pieces, using an age-old construction technique formerly used in ox carts.
It is, therefore, an architectural masterpiece that is much more than a mere staircase joining two floors of the museum. The staircase provides a unique experience that amazes the visitors.
It is, in fact, a spiritual entity that bears a symbiotic relation with the history of that place. As such, it is an intensely “charged” staircase.
The architect made Bahia whirl when she lived there. She went to that place and spun and twirled and created what looks like a staircase that has something undefined for whoever looks at it ruling the center of that space. Right at the center of the Solar do Unhão. A symbolic position like the spiraled center of the world, which turns, spins and twirls.
A staircase in trance. Like a dance where one spins about and finds oneself in the power of the ascending or descending spiral that moves in the midst of the surrounding nature, with its gravitational force. Taking us up and down.
The exhibition Eu quero Ver [I Want to See], by Ivan Grillo, springs from two researches carried out in parallel in recent years. One is an investigation begun last year, when the artist was in Bahia, motivated by a project conceived by Mario de Andrade, in 1937 – the Missão Folclórica [Folklore Mission] organized by the São Paulo City Department of Culture.
In the other investigation, Ivan Grilo resumes his studies into the work of Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi, which he began on the occasion of his participation at the I FotoBienal of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, in 2013.
For this exhibition, Grilo bases his work on ancestral African knowledge transmitted orally down through the generations, captured mainly during his visit to Salvador and the Recôncavo Baiano region, while also resorting to Western academic knowledge, researching in archives such as that of the Instituto Bardi (Casa de Vidro) and of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, focusing primarily on the period during which Lina lived in the nation’s Northeast.
This “pudding” also includes a history of what could not be seen at the exhibition Civilização do Nordeste [Civilization of the Northeast], whose second edition was censored in 1965.
Therefore, its initial edition in 1963 at the Solar do Unhão, was followed by the opening of its second edition in Italy, at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Roma two years later.
On that occasion it was deemed “miserable” by the ambassador at that time. A show featuring Brazilian popular culture and handicraft – the novelty was just too much for that time.
“Civilization,” as Lina wrote about that show she organized, “is the practical aspect of culture, it is the life of the people at all of their instants.
Grilo works with photographic archives. He uses photography without any commitment to be documental. He frees it from the aim of documenting, yet nevertheless creates a new document, constructing new realities by painting over the images as he allows things to be seen, and not seen. He operates in time, interrupting the history of the image and of things, in a way that allows for a re-beginning, a second course.
The title of the exhibition is based in a certain way on the game of layers/visibilities that persist in his works, but is also inspired by the 1974 song by Jorge Ben, which states, “Eu quero ver quando Zumbi chegar, o que vai acontecer” [I want to see when Zumbi arrives, what is going to happen]. The exhibition therefore also refers to [and reveres] icons of Brazilian history like Zumbi dos Palmares and Antônio Conselheiro.
To always see. Even more, to see those exhibitions with the art of the common folk and their heroes, which so terribly frighten the generals.