SANDRA CINTO: NIGHTS OF HOPE IN MAÇARICO CITY

6 August - 17 September 2022
Installation Views
Overview

Intersecting axes give rise to stars made of straight lines scintillating above flying rivers. Nested among planes that evoke the transcendent, their apparitions depend on the convergence of strokes with different inclinations. Churning rivers arise first. They descend one point to the next on the surface, in rituals and clashings with the force of gravity. When they stop being waterfalls to recover the horizon, they shine from the depths of the oceans and encounter skies made of simple gestures, which shelter dreams, poetry, utopia and language. These same rivers of water vapor, shot through with parallel lines, provide shapes for suspended bridges connecting infinitesimal realities with expansive fractals that recall the power of unity in diversity. Slightly different from one another, each stroke sustains distant existences above borderless atmospheric waters. Turbulence and fluidity resume the idea of Isidore Ducasse, for whom poetry is nothing else but a majestic and fertile river. In this painting, one can only imagine the poet’s amazement if he were to come upon these entities that transport invisible water across the skies of cities that are setting fire to themselves. In the meditative silence of Sandra Cinto’s studio there resides a fragment of the counterpart of that self-destructive society. When she generates flying rivers on her canvases, she expresses her reverence for the free circulation of the atmosphere that allows the Amazon to flow toward the central south of the South American continent.

 

And it is not the first time that skies and bodies of water drawn by this artist reveal her fascination for nature’s persistence in keeping life alive, in varied forms. This is why the plural was used in the first part of the exhibition’s title, whose second part [which alludes to an urban neighborhood under a giant oil refinery gas flare, called Vila Maçarico (Blowtorch Villa)] reinvigorates the resilient spirit in face of an incendiary condition, since nights of hope depend on the repetition of liberating gestures. In the artist’s practice, this state consists in her transmuting banal everyday actions and perceiving the shine of celestial bodies such as the atomic potential of fireflies dancing in the early dawn. Running counter to the dominant devastation, her crossings, dives, overflights and rootings are intertwined in her body of works that reveal the ingeniousness of the cosmos, and the depths that can be reached only through the integration of mind and spirit. The invitation to share nights of hope occurs with the oscillations of the material – the only way to descend into the imperturbable oceanic depths and to soar through skies that cradle flying rivers springing from the Amazon Forest. Utopian and spiritual, Nights of Hope in Maçarico City reduces the substantial difference of archipelagoes, constellations and tiny points that manifest the conjoining of individuals with nature.

 

It was Paulo Freire who listed statements that convey the meaning of the verb “to hope,” among which, “joining with others to do it differently” is elementary. In fact, the envelopes on the table designed to receive one person at a time, requesting that his or her dreams be narrated to a foreign self or distant people is equivalent to Freire’s “brand-new viable thing.” Which adds, to the nights, metaphors of the watchful state of people seeking possible horizons for collectively lived futures. To this end, the box that receives the letters will accumulate sketches, lists, desires and other writings to be sent to addressees invited to share dreams able to create and construct worlds.

 

For Freire, “to construct” is also a synonym of “to hope.” Insofar as it changes the order of things, harbors ideas and develops possibilities, the verb requires a measured approach to ensure alignment with the unpredictable material. In 2006, “to hope” and “to construct” appeared as nouns in the artist’s work, with Construção [Construction] being the covering of the architectural space with starry structures that vibrate at different intensities and Noites de Esperança [Nights of Hope] the superimposition of planes that celebrate life inscribed in the past and projected into the future. In the second semester of 2022, amidst the country’s severe devastation, it is necessary to remember how much “to hope” is a verb that requires cultivation. It is necessary to reactivate the bodily memory of when day became night, with flakes of ash brought by flying rivers, all the way from the Amazon region in flames. It is necessary to construct futures as a synonym of the verb “to hope,” to reinstall the state of mourning experienced due to willful negligences, and to kindle an urgency for revolutions of consciousness. It is likewise necessary to manifest revolts against the oppressive hunger engendered by the power that transforms natural goods into commodities, just as it also naturalizes violence and hate. In face of all this, Maçarico City is, also, a childhood memory. It is the destructive light that illuminates the villa of the same name where the artist lived in her childhood. The days when her father lived far from his human condition. Subject to another constructive dimension, he was one of those who “loved that time as though he were a machine.” Distant from the hopeful dimension that the verb “to construct” found in Freirean thought, in Vila Maçarico, “the Construction” held the meaning of the verses that Chico Buarque wrote in 1971. For this reason, the memories of the artist’s childhood also include trips down to the seacoast with images of happy days, an occasion when her father breathed deeply and watched his children learn to swim. Meanwhile, at Vila Maçarico, the news about the climate repeated – and still repeats – the headline from the newspaper Jornal do Brasil on December 4, 1968: “Stifling temperature. The air is unbreathable.”

 

It was the artist Ana Tavares who identified – in the early 1990s, in redeeming skies made in her student days – the flame of light that gives Vila Maçarico its name. Situated in the center of a small composition with which the young artist constructed the reading of opposing worlds, the flames allude to the abrasive and violent condition of the polis. Or, moreover, to the individual citizen, the politikoi, responsible for its expansion or extinction. Akin to what occurs with the right to freedom of expression – eliminated in contexts in which diverse collective life is subjected to oppression and extermination – the right to the city, as Henri Lefebvre reminds us in his book of the same name, consists in elaborating an experimental utopia that questions, in practice, the rhythms of daily life and its prescriptions favorable to happiness. Anything opposed to this principle debases the right to the polis and therefore hinders the individual from exercising his or her public activities. Nights of Hope in Maçarico City thus considers the construction of a space of encounters and puts it into flight, making it travel to various locations, in order to spur people to come together to revise the city and to begin some practices able to interject happiness into decimated fields and territories. By composing musicalities made of intertwined dreams, the artist preserves movements in her quixotic practice that understand the verb “to hope” as fundamental to generosity, a way she has found to “do it differently” within art.

 

Furthermore, when she dismantles scales, she combines past and future in oceanic areas modeled by insurmountable winds – in favor of processes that beg for the healing of urban centers wounded by blowtorches that distill hate and discrimination – her Nights of Hope settle bodies into individual beds. Being in suspension, it is good to recall, or become aware of, the words of Arundhati Roy – especially the brief passage she wrote to a friend demonstrating other possible worlds imbued with the same power of dreams that Sandra Cinto bears and distributes by way of lines, points, rivers, envelopes and letters:

 

The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live

while you are alive, and die only when you are dead.

To love, to be loved. To never

forget your own insignificance.

To never get used to the unspeakable violence and

vulgar disparity of the life around you […].

 

This passage from a short list of dreams by the Indian writer meets up with other sacred intuitions in the works of the artist, such as glittering spheres that evoke cycles of life of anonymous existences, like those of the worker who “died out of place, obstructing the public’s flow.” This is why her nights, lines and points above flying rivers are memories that cherish and embrace. At the same time, they are a metaphor of rains generated by roots in Amazonia, a nuclear fusion that evaporates seas and bathes forests, just like the need to drive the cycle of seed germination to continue the vaporization of oceans and to maintain the right to life.

 

Josué Mattos