Juliana Cerqueira Leite: Hotel Marajoara: Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Installation Views

Throughout her career, Juliana Cerqueira Leite has carried out investigations into the human body and the history of its depiction. In this show, the artist extends her research by proposing a reflection, based on familial memories, in regard to how we construct the definitions of what we consider culture, or not.


During the 1980s, Juliana’s uncle brought ceramic objects produced in Pará to commercialize in São Paulo. These objects, popularly known as marajoara, are currently found throughout the country in stores selling “typically Brazilian” products, and are highly demanded as decorative objects. Investigating the origin of these items through research in the archaeological collections of various museums, the artist identified that the decorative ceramics from the north of Pará are formally descendent from Amerindian funerary urns, produced in the same region for nearly four thousand years.


In Hotel Marajoara, Juliana Cerqueira Leite presents a series of sculptures, replicas of urns, drawings, video and digital collage that proposes a dialogue with the urns produced by the cultures of the original peoples until the loss of this practice due to colonization. For these cultures, the body is what allows for the human identity of the soul. For its part, the soul, losing its body at death, can be incarnated in another animal in a dangerous process of transformation. In this process, the urns operate as objects serving as a place for the dwelling and transformation of the ancestor’s soul.


In the exhibition, three replicas of Amerindian funeral urns, of the Maracá, Aristé, and Marajoara traditions, are presented. Originating from the Replicando o Passado [Replicating the Past] project – a joint effort between the Museu Emilio Goeldi and ceramist masters from Icoarací, in Pará – these works were produced at the same time as the artist’s. The video brings us into the collection storage spaces of the museums where these funerary urns are found today, tracing a narrative about the collapse of cultures and the loss of the body.


The exhibition also includes two works from the artist’s Corpos Moles [Soft Bodies] series, which lead us to the inner space of the body in decomposition. The sculptures are composed of interlocking rings of paper, hung on the wall, forming a cellular totem. Moistened with plaster, this paper structure is deformed, compressed by gravity as it hardens, giving rise to a form which is simultaneously a process.