(this page was last updated in July 2018)
Pio XII, Maranhão, Brazil, 1982.
Lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Represented by Periscópio Arte Contemporânea.
PIPA Prize 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018 nominee.
Marcone started his artistic experimentation in the late 1990’s and has since participated in several exhibitions throughout the country and abroad. His work involves several languages, such as painting, sculpture, video, objects, photographs and installations.
His work is related to the memory of worn out materials (boats, body works, utensils impregnated with culturally constructed meanings. The artist develops a work methodology where the interest lies on the symbolic exchange of materials, appropriation and displacement, procedures developed by the artist which aim at giving new meaning to “popular culture” in the economic circuit of “contemporary art”.
Video produced by Matrioska Filmes exclusively for PIPA 2016:
“Horizonte de Ferro”, 2014. Duration: 9’38”.
Recent solo exhibitions: “Liquid Territories”, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, SP, Brazil 2014, “2º ato: Marcone Moreira”, Foundation Joaquim Nabuco, Recife, Brazil, 2014 and “Peso à Terra”, Galeria Blau Projects, São Paulo, SP, Brazil, 2014. Recent group exhibitions: “Rotation run for art”, curated by Alfons Hug and co-curated by Paula Borghi, Palmas, TO, Brazil, 2016; “Singularidades/Anotações Rumos Artes Visuais 1998-2013, curated by Aracy Amaral, Paulo Miyada, and Regina Silveira, Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil; “Intervenções Urbanas”, curated by Isabel Sanson Portella, Museu da República, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil and “Ficções”, curated by Daniela Name, Caixa Cultural, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, 2015.
Main Awards: 2011, Marcantonio Vilaça Award, CNI/Sesi; 2010, winner of the Marcantonio Vilaça Award/FUNARTE; 2009, Artistic Research and Experimentation Stipend, grantedby Instituto de Artes do Pará, Belém-PA; 2008, Award-winnerat the25thSalon of Bahia, Salvador, BA; 2007, Projéteis de Arte Contemporânea Award, Funarte-RJ,andaward-winner atthe Exhibitions Program ofSão Paulo Cultural Center-SP; 2005, Pampulha Stipend, Pampulha Art Museum.
“The Marks of the Things and the Political Folds”
by Moacir dos Anjos
Even though he is still a young artist, Marcone Moreira’s career is already extensive. This relative longevity – one and one-half decades – allows for a retrospective look at the evolution of his oeuvre, though it would be risky to make any forecast, since his work has not always developed in a straight line. Its path resembles a spiral, in which past ideas and things are recovered at each turn, yet added to others that emerge along the way. The inherent logic mixes continuity and chance, so one never knows what the next turn will result in. From the various turns of the spiral so far, it is possible to identify some questions which since the outset have been part of Marcone Moreira’s formal and conceptual repertoire, along with others that have been gradually introduced into his work, lending it robustness and new levels of meaning. This publication is focused on a selection and comparison of certain pieces from his oeuvre with the aim of revealing motifs and gestures which are intertwined through time and can provide at least a temporary overview of his development.
Perhaps the first thing that we perceive in the artist’s oeuvre is the active coexistence of dissimilar cultural references. It is very possible that this is perhaps the most memorable impression for those who encounter his works in different situations. They are artworks whose bodies are constructed of various materials, always seeming to contain different meanings and contexts that are not affirmed one on top the others; rather, there is an interplay among them of elements placed into relations of formal tension of ideas. This is an insistent characteristic that seems to suggest that what drives and singularizes the artist’s work is its ability to be more than one thing at each moment, never submitting itself to a reduction of meanings. For being anchored in paradoxes, his work is seen differently by each viewer, being open to different perceptions and understandings according to the references contained and condensed in the eye of the observer.
For some, the most striking aspect of Marcone Moreira’s production are the painted surfaces present in many of his works, even when it is not sufficiently clear what the appealing lines and colors that cover them refer to. For others, the most interesting element is the aged or rustic aspect of the materials chosen to compose new works, such as pieces of used wood or swatches of thick nylon fabrics. The making of the artist’s works also gives rise to questions about their origin. Even though the painted shapes could, in theory, have been all created by him, careful examination of their surfaces (peeled paint, holes left by nails and screws, the remains of hardware, known cutouts, mechanical printing of colors) strongly suggest that they were made by other hands; there is a variable and uncertain time involved in his works. Instead of what is usually called painting, what guides his creative practice are therefore procedures of appropriation and juxtaposition of objects or their parts, even if based on an outlook keenly interested in what is painted or printed there. His painting expands to beyond what is normally considered as the domain of painting, and also admits, as though it were something proper to its nature, its tridimensional presence in space.
Although these constructive operations more or less clearly pervade nearly all of his production, their presence is unmistakably clear in his many artworks made with pieces of wood cut from boats or the sideboards of old trucks, as well as pieces of colored nylon commonly used to cover the seats and backs of chairs or for making tote bags. In regard to a given set of his artworks, little can be said in a definitive way. This imprecision is not the result of formal indecisions or conceptual deficiencies of Marcone Moreira, rather, it emerges from his pieces as a constitutive mark of their wholeness. Without choosing to make a painting, object, sculpture or something else, the artist appropriates what is already in the world without claiming exclusive authorship of what results from his artistic gesture. To a precise time (the moment of each exhibition) and place (the field of art) he brings signs of an indefinite time that is not clearly known, along with indications of places that are only places of passage, like those where boats navigate, vehicles circulate, or people walk, carrying bags made of synthetic material.
It is not by chance that ideas of transit are so very much present in Marcone Moreira, seeing that he spent his formative years, his adolescence and adult life in Marabá, a city in the state of Pará which is a place of passage of people and merchandise coming from various other places. Since the outset of his career he has taken scraps of various types of found objects made of wood – mainly scraps from truck sideboards and from boats – and transformed them into new things, thus underscoring, in his own unique way, the double importance that the Amazonian city and its environs had (and still have) for his production. This place of intense movement of people and cargo (at Marabá the Tocantins and Itacaiúnas rivers meet, as also do the Transamazônica Highway and the Carajás Railway) is where the artist has for many years obtained much of the materials for his work, from cast-off things that no longer have their original functionality, selecting, cutting, grouping and re-signifying them as something of his own. Moreover, for being the confluence of various routes and symbolic references that cannot be reduced to any others, the urban dynamics of Marabá can be taken as a metaphor of the constructive procedures he uses. In both the city and in his work, there is no space for precise definitions of belonging or identity, requiring the inhabitants (including the artist himself) to make constant translations of meanings, which are necessarily fated to opaqueness and, therefore, to an always inconclusive and provisory result.
It is this geographic and human context that anchors the main vectors that have driven Marcone Moreira’s production since the start and which continue to pervade it, imparting rhythm and proportion to the developmental spiral of his work. The most evident and basic of these vectors is perhaps the previously mentioned interest in constructing something new by the mere appropriation of what already exists as a given thing. To this thrust he overlays, however, the desire to break down arbitrary borders between what is described as popular and what is deemed to be refined, as well as between what is seen as belonging to a local place and that which is considered to have global validity. These constants in his work arise in the confluence between the materiality of the artworks presented – banal things removed from the places where the artist lives, or things he cares about – and the references they make to ways of organizing and knowing the world that are proper to art. To an observer familiar with art history it may even appear that the geometric conformation often present in his works involves an affiliation with Brazilian constructivism, which continues to echo, in different ways, in a significant part of Brazil’s contemporary art production. To observers who are unaware of the history of that ethical and artistic movement, however, his works may also correctly evoke vestiges of vernacular patterns used in the decoration of trucks, façades of houses and utilitarian objects.
The difficulty in classifying Marcone Moreira’s works into stable categories is reflected in the ambiguous dialogue they establish with the production of two other Brazilian contemporary artists. At first glance, the wooden cutouts refer to the works of Minas Gerais artist Celso Renato, who back in the 1960s likewise appropriated wooden fences surrounding construction sites, construction scraps, or pieces of doors found in the street in order to use them as supports for paintings of a constructivist bent, adding pigment to them to give rise to another layer of meaning (unlike Marcone Moreira, who merely selects them and transports them to another place). Another inevitable comparison is with the paintings of Emmanuel Nassar, an artist from the state of Pará, who shares with Marcone Moreira an interest in the impure visual repertoire of the region where they both once lived and to where they always return. The two artists are different, however, in terms of a basic constructive procedure: while Emmanuel Nassar usually appropriates only found images, remaking them or re-creating them on various supports, Marcone Moreira also appropriates the physical support the images are on.
Another distinguishing quality of Marcone Moreira’s work compared to that of other artists who work in similar ways is the increasing importance he attributes to the processes used in the preparation and making of the pieces, which never takes second place to the relevance conceded to the finished product itself. These processes involve, for an uncertain period of time, a search for materials and the establishment of contacts with their owners for obtaining the right to use them, based on which they are modified to various degrees and presented as finished works. This sharing, with various groups and individuals, of ideas and gestures for changing the nature of common things has become more present and visible in the artist’s practice, and is now an indissociable part of the meanings that can be attributed to his works.
This emphasis on the prolonged mechanisms of physical and symbolic interchange is particularly evident in two of his long-term projects. In one of them, called Margens [Riverbanks] Marcone Moreira deepened, perhaps like never before, his interest in the boats that ply the two rivers that cut through the city of Marabá, linking territories that would otherwise be separate. This evinces an interest not only in constant traveling, but also in the materiality of the boats used for transporting people and objects in that part of Amazonia: an interest in the woods from which they are made, in the drawings of the structures that give them their shape, in the procedures adopted by their builders, in the painting of the boat hulls in striking colors, and in the decorations that make them unique. It is furthermore an interest in the specificity of the many human relations that need to be woven together in order for the boats to be constructed and used. To investigate this entire process, the artist got to know the people responsible for making the boats and hired them to construct three of them, in order to then trade them for three used boats, already worn out by countless crossings made between the lands on either side of the rivers and therefore bearing marks that symbolize the role they play in the ordinary life of the city’s riverbank populations. These used boats were then materially deconstructed in an operation that reversed the steps necessary for their construction. Using dismembered parts that once made up a whole, Marcone Moreira lent continuity to a series of works, entitled collectively Expansão [Expansion], in which pieces of wood taken from boats are arranged on the floor of the exhibition space, mimicking, more or less explicitly, the elongated outline and smooth characteristic of the boats that work along the region’s rivers.
The project Visualidade ambulante [Wandering Visuality] also evidences the central importance, in the artist’s practice, of the relations he establishes with other people in the process of producing his artworks. Materially, the piece arises from the gathering of dozens of Styrofoam boxes of the type used by street vendors who sell cold beverages, all of them covered with wide, colorful adhesive tapes that both protect and decorate them. To have access to a large number of used boxes, over the course of various months Marcone Moreira established contact with their owners, offering to trade new boxes along with rolls of colored tape in exchange for their used ones. It was an arm’s-length exchange freely agreed to by both parties, where the artist’s interest in the symbols of a common means of earning a living was balanced by the street vendors’ natural desire to obtain better tools for conducting their business. Although there are variations in the ways these boxes are re-presented as works of art – grouped in blocks or in towers of different heights linked by the lids of some of them placed flat on the floor – they always evoke, besides their unequivocal mundaneness, Brazilian art’s strong tradition of articulating colors for the construction of shapes. By mixing popular and refined references and by gathering in a single space objects which were previously dispersed throughout the city, the installation also allows the observer to clearly catch sight of something which in the hectic daily life of the city is only imprecise visual noise.
These and other articulations gain additional meanings when, in more recent turns of the spiral that configures his career, Marcone Moreira sheds lights on subjects that are very important to him and which previously had not found ways to exist in his work. Considering his oeuvre as a whole, it is increasingly clear that the objects the artist collects and uses are interesting to him for being signs of human work or traces of movements that take place in a given space – for being vestiges which, upon entering into mutual contact and mixing with each other in the environment of the show, subtly evoke conflicts of the world of work driven by possession or by forced displacements of territories.
It is for this same reason that clubs made of different materials and used by workers who use significant force in their jobs – whether they are fish vendors or babassu coconut splitters – are gathered by Marcone Moreira and inscribed in the field of art, simultaneously for their supposed, attractive formal qualities and because they bear the scars of their daily use. Reconsidered through their proximity with these objects, the pieces of wood from the sideboards of trucks or from boat structures take on new possible meanings, and can be read as memories of a world of tough, important work – as carried out by truck drivers and boat pilots – which is not socially recognized as such.
The existence of a wider context for the reception of the artist’s work has also been evidenced on some of the few occasions when he has made explicit use of images. In one such case, in the work called Ausente presença [Absent Presence], a photograph of feet modeled in clay and sunk into mud (also most likely a symbol of hard work) is neighbored by another one that records the plaque that recalls the names of the nineteen landless workers killed in 1996 by the military police in Eldorado dos Carajás, in the southern Pará State. Those effectively unpunished deaths occurred amidst protests caused by the delay in completing the processes for the expropriation of nonproductive lands in the region. In another of the few works in which Marcone Moreira has produced images – the video Horizonte de ferro [Iron Horizon] – there is a nearly silent record of the long route traveled by the passenger train of the Carajás Railway through many small cities in the interior of the states of Maranhão and Pará. Shot from the perspective of someone inside the train constantly looking out, the film bears tacit witness to the modest or impoverished conditions of the populations who live without profiting from the mineral wealth which for decades has been removed from their lands and flows out along that same railway for the benefit of people and groups that no one there even knows.
This increasingly mixed confluence of materials, procedures and themes is presented concisely in the installation Território [Territory], in which the artist ties together, in the format of a nearly square fence, four used wooden fence gates originating from states of Brazil which have (or once had) an important participation in the field of agribusiness: Pará, Pernambuco, Minas Gerais and Paraná. With deliberate gestures, the artist uses these simple structures to delimit an appealing space, into which one cannot enter, blending constructive interest with the memory of disputes for the land which this type of activity engenders, various of them resolved in a violent way by the powers that be in Brazil. While maintaining the formal tensions which since the beginning have made his artworks unique, and without ever reducing them to
discursiveness, Marcone Moreira has managed to gradually augment them with new layers of political meanings and allusions to the interplays of social forces.
The spiral continues.
“Marcone Moreira and the Paradoxes of Appropriation”
by Laymert Garcia dos Santos, 2012
Though a young man, Marcone Moreira has a career consolidated throughout fifteen years. As a matter of fact, the Maranhão-born, Pará-based artist started in 1997, had his first solo exhibition in Belém in 2003, and, since then, has projected himself as one of the exponents of the new generation. Hence, it is already possible to identify the main lines in his career, and look at his work in retrospect to find affirmation and coherence in it.
After following Moreira’s work during one year for Prêmio CNI SESI Marcantonio Vilaça para as Artes Plásticas, visiting him twice in Marabá, having contact with other local artists, attesting to his insertion in the Amazon, discussing his assumptions, getting acquainted with him on the occasion of the exhibitions of the Prize in Porto Alegre and Ribeirão Preto, and observing the way he moves through the Brazilian visual arts circuit, I have become convinced that he is an artist at the same time singular and complex, whose creations are eminently contemporary to the exact extent that they generate paradoxes after paradoxes, intriguing the observer and capturing them in his creations.
Both his singularity and complexity were soon detected by the critics who wrote about his work on the occasion of different exhibitions. As an example, in his very first solo exhibition, entitled Tráfego Visual (Visual traffic), Jorge Eiró wrote on the small catalogue a rather concise, wise, and playful text, in which he pointed out, at high speed, “the smuggling of references,” “a certain gangster charm,” and the “misappropriations” by this bold Amazonian who absorbed the classical information, or “the heavy historical burden”— Duchamp, Malevich, Mondrian, the Brazilian constructivism (concrete and neoconcrete), and what he dubbed “the Brazilian pop.”¹ But all that was mixed with a unique affective material, which submitted the influences to the expressive force of whatever invaded the artist’s visual field, or what was at hand. And from such mixture the first paradox emerged, brought forth by the tension of the encounter/divergence with/from an aesthetic education of art history modulated by the materials, objects, signs, and language of the popular culture of the Amazon.
According to Moreira himself, the awakening of his aesthetic emotion or even his artistic calling is anchored in ceramics, in transforming clay as a means of expression. Through it, his father, a stern man of few words, communicated with his young son, making him toys. There was the matrix, the greater impulse for a future artist, which becomes clear in his emotional bond with his land, its people, and also with his environment and its problematization, in terms of belonging.
Moreira wanted to become an artist and started practicing drawing and painting. The first helped him organize his head, as he himself says, “to build his thoughts”; the second, to be able to exist, absorbed the “local color,” that is, the colors and hues that make up the rural and urban landscape of the Amazon — his keen sense for the Amazonian habitat is amazing, and for all kinds of aesthetic expression that are manifested in it, whether deliberately artistic or not. That is why the acute observation by film director Robert Bresson applies, when he said that “to have discernment” is to have “precision in perception.”² Therefore, the artist soon understood that he might either create the colors on his paintings or find them “ready,” “arranged” on all sorts of supports — boat wrecks, fragments of truck bodies, beer crates, iron sheets, canvas bags, etc. For me, Moreira is, above all, a painter. Not only because he started out as a painter, but also, and most importantly, because his sculptures, videos, and even his photographs “approach painting in other ways.” In short, it was his painter’s discernment that led him to find the value of colors on what he calls the “tired matter.” Appropriating them was a logical step that did not take him long to put into practice, authorized by Duchamp.
As everybody knows, the French artist has become a recurrent, almost unavoidable reference in contemporary art, to the point that Paul B. Franklin protested, “The problem today is that everyone tries to be Duchamp. The proliferation of appropriation art, the rediscovery of the readymade — the thing that younger artists need to learn is how to be influenced by somebody without replicating their work.”³ Now, in Moreira’s case, it is easy to see how much the artist distances himself from this commonplace, although he does claim the inheritance. One just has to examine the richness and originality of his way of learning the Duchampian lesson and exercising appropriation.
Maybe one can affirm with some certainty that the founding logic of the artist’s work consists in operating, through emotion, three types of appropriation: of color, of matter, and of memory. Critic Lontra Costa, in his text “Metamorfose ambulante” (Walking metamorphosis, 2011), points out the color appropriation, also suggesting that it happens in the fashion of the founding experiences of Hélio Oiticica, who founded, in one single body, the constructive experimentation with the formal and chromatic solutions taken from popular art.4 In their turn, the matter and memory appropriations were already indicated by Marisa Mokarzel in her text “Arqueologia visual” (Visual archaeology, 2004). For her, Moreira behaves first as a collector or an archaeologist: “Matter is the beginning… it is the substance that will be submitted to the gaze of the one who selects and makes each piece available to integrate it in the process of decomposing, gathering, organizing, and reorganizing until it comes close to the founding idea of the object and fulfills the desire of whomever takes on a different role, this time, that of the architect, or maybe the builder or the designer.”5
Therefore, in Moreira, the appropriation consists in a double work: first, there is the archaeologist of the present and the collector who takes on the job of discerning, selecting, and displacing the “material”; then, there is the builder, architect, or designer who has the task of reconstructing it, or rather, of reconfiguring it. Hence, there is the “Duchamp moment,” followed by the “Oiticica moment.” The work resulting from both acquires consistency precisely in the articulation and the concretion of those two moments. Something that Moreira expresses in the following words: “I think that, as an artist, my question is to re-elaborate my world from how I perceive it, and that is what I dedicate myself to, from the place where I am currently living.… [T]he material that is collected in Marabá, which oftentimes has its own characteristics, goes through a filter that is myself, and I am always moving around, perceiving this place from inside and out.”6
It is interesting to note that the appropriation of Amazonian materials happens through the conceptual appropriation of the art of Duchamp and Oiticica. As if one appropriation validated the other, to be complete in it, as if the “tired matter” and the conceptual apparatus needed to merge through the creative gesture, so that both could acquire their full sense on the work’s amalgam. On an excellent text in 2005, Moacir dos Anjos accurately observed that Moreira’s work does not opt to be either painting or object7; therefore, it does not favor the “Duchamp moment” or the “Oiticica moment.” As a matter of fact, I believe the very strength of the works lies precisely in this non-option, this calculated indecisiveness that, just like in Herman Melville’s short story Bartleby, the Scrivener, “would prefer not to.” Neither a painting nor an object, but both at the same time, the works by the Amazonian artist may preserve their presence intact, just like they manifested themselves in their original Amazonian world; only now they are updated in the color, the matter, and the memory of a new work that is exhibited in the visual arts world. Thus, opting for not having to opt, Moreira’s work is inscribed in the category of paradox-objects that Boris Groys talks about when referring to Duchamp’s readymades.
In a very interesting book, Art Power, the German critic evokes Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain and Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square as paradox-objects that simultaneously embody thesis and antithesis, work and nonwork. For him, there is only one correct interpretation these objects impose on viewers: the works demand a self-contradictory reaction that is perfectly paradoxical: “The only adequate interpretation of a paradox is a paradoxical interpretation. Thus the deeper difficulty in dealing with modern art consists in our unwillingness to accept paradoxical, self-contradictory interpretations as adequate and true. But the unwillingness should be overcome — so that we can see modern and contemporary art for what it is, namely, a site of revelation of the paradox governing the balance of power. In fact, to be a paradox-object is the normative requirement implicitly applied to any contemporary artwork.”8
Evoking Søren Kierkegaard, for whom the new is a difference without difference, that is, a difference beyond difference, a difference that we are unable to recognize because it is not related to any pre-given structural code, Groys states that Duchamp’s readymades are effectively new because they are inscribed in this category. “…[T]oday, to be really new, an artwork cannot even repeat the old differences between art objects and ordinary things. By means of repeating these differences, it is possible only to create a different artwork, not a new artwork. The new artwork looks really new and alive only if it resembles, in a certain sense, every other ordinary, profane thing, or every other ordinary product of popular culture. Only in this case can the new artwork function as a signifier for the world outside the museum walls. The new can be experienced as such only if it produces an effect of out-of-bounds infinity — if it opens an infinite view on reality outside of the museum.”9
Boris Groys’ reflection on the readymades is pertinent to approach Moreira’s work, although it does not exactly replicate Duchamp’s gesture, since the Amazonian operates a plastic intervention on the “material,” reconfiguring it, and not only dislocating it from the space of life to the space of the museum. A more demanding reader could object that, in Moreira’s case, we are not in face of a difference without difference, a difference beyond difference, because there has been some interference. However, I might argue that the artist’s works are indeed paradox-objects because, paradoxically, the visual intervention, the “Hélio Oiticica moment” only confirms them in their previous mode of existence, although taking them out of their insignificance as “tired matter.” As if Moreira’s gesture made us see, in the present, what they were in the past, when no one saw their beauty, strength, relevance!
There is also another aspect highlighted by Groys that connects Moreira’s works to Duchamp’s readymades. It is the question of selection. As the critic writes, “…[A]rt today is defined by an identity between creation and selection. At least since Duchamp it has been the case that selecting an artwork is the same as creating an artwork. That, of course, does not mean that all art since then has become readymade art. It does, however, mean that the creative act has become the act of selection: since that time producing an object is no longer sufficient for its producer to be considered an artist. One must also select the object one has made oneself and declare it an artwork. Accordingly, since Duchamp there has no longer been any difference between an object one produces oneself and one produced by someone else — both have to be selected in order to be considered artworks. Today an author is someone who selects, who authorizes.”10
Let’s take, for instance, the works shown on the exhibitions of this Prize. Damas (Checkers) is an installation comprising twenty-two pieces — twenty-one checkers boards collected in bars and popular places in the south of Pará and a meat cutting board used by an anonymous housewife. In reality, Moreira did not make anything in this work, he “merely” selected; however, the mere displacement, accumulation, and disposition of the pieces turns the popular game into an aesthetic and artistic game, into a play with life and art that can be virtually expanded infinitely. Of course the Duchampian references are very present because of all the reasons mentioned above — even more so if we think about the refined irony to refer to the chess game that was so important in the work of the French artist! But then there comes the “Oiticica moment” that reconfigures the selected boards, adding, through the simple sum and juxtaposition, the question of composition, of colors, of the classical + popular equation. Culminating with the insinuation of a meat cutting board that dramatically opens the work to another dimension of everyday life, therefore, to a new paradoxical game between the leisure of the men and the house chores of the women in the Amazon… Margem (Border) follows an analogous principle. This is a vessel structure remounted in the exhibition venue. Here, color, matter and memory are condensed in the wood that is selected and reorganized. Once again, we must point out the relevance of selection followed by a keen sense of arrangement that updates the boat anchored on the riverside. Parede da memória (Memory wall) is an installation comprised of ninety-nine beer crates. Just like in the previous work, painting and sculpture unite to engrave and make present in a new image the trivial image that is part of life in Marabá — so many are the crates transported and stacked up, so much cold beer is drunk to quench the thirst in the tropical heat, so much inebriation erasing the contours of the hot colors and the shapes, drowning or reviving the memories of a fast-changing world… Thus, the pieces here assembled at the same time exist by themselves and affirm and reiterate the coherence in Moreira’s output. For how can one not see on the fourth work exhibited, Sem título (Untitled), a crowning of the whole set? As a matter of fact, it is a large 230 x 230 cm painted wood vessel frame. What do we see here but the embodiment of Moreira’s very aesthetical device? What is it to frame but to differentiate the act of fitting, selecting, appropriating, displacing, and installing it in the exhibiting room?
During the visits to the artist, this critic was able to see two other works that confirmed, each one in its own way, the intuitions and perceptions outlined here. Those are works in which creation seems to operate a kind of return to the matrices that have triggered the artistic activity, deepening it. They have to do with the land, that is, a sort of politicization and problematization of how one belongs to his or her habitat. Returning to his starting point, Moreira made, during a residency in Serra da Mantiqueira mountain range, in the state of Minas Gerais, a series of sculptures, casts of the feet of other artists and of locals, which were inserted in different contexts of the landscape and then photographed. Completing the series, the molds of the artist’s feet were cast. But here the action is of a different nature: Moreira deposits his clay molds into the clay and then comes from behind, stepping on his own feet, as if returning them to their condition of formless matter, giving them back to the earth where they came from. This time, instead of being photographed, the action is captured on video. Maybe because it is characterized as an action-moving image, and because it uses the body of the artist himself, the gestures reverberate over the photographic images, lending them new meanings by inscribing them in a perspective that has the creator as both the starting and the finishing points. It is the idea of the artist as a “filter,” as previously evoked. Besides, all differences considered, the action and the images resulting from it evoke Hélio Oiticica’s Counter-Bolide: To Return Earth to the Earth. Not that Moreira was inspired by this work. But the thing is, if, on the one hand, Oiticica conceives of such return operation from the object, Moreira sees it from the subject’s point of view.
Finally, within the same line of argument, there is a series of photographs entitled Homem rural (Rural man), in which the artist “enters” the previously made image, that is, he fictionalizes his insertion as a rural man in the romantic landscape of Almeida Júnior. It is deliberately fake. But its strength lies precisely in the fact that the artist’s biotype fits perfectly in the Brazilian rural landscape, creating a kind of paradox, because the fake is true, in a disturbing way. I should also mention that such procedure generates a man-environment relation that is diametrically opposed, for instance, to artist Ingrid Pollard’s, a black British citizen who photographs herself in the English countryside, calling the attention to the unfamiliarity of such act, for it goes against the clichés of what we understand as “being English.”
“Indications, traces, signs”
by Moacir dos Anjos, 2005
Marcone Moreira’s works suggest, from the first contact with them, the crossing of different references. To some, what might draw more attention are the several plans the artist builds on different surfaces by placing side by side a reduced set of colors. To others, it is possible that the most interesting are the crude materials (almost always worn wood, sometimes also nylon, cardboard or iron) and the various shapes of the supports of these chromatic fields, weaving uncertainties about the nature of what is presented stuck to the wall or laid on the floor. To the cultured observer, it might also seem that there is, in the geometric composition of the forms painted, an affiliation to Brazilian constructivist tradition, which still echoes, in many ways, in a significant part of the country’s contemporary visual production. To those unfamiliar with the story of that art and ethics project, however, the works might correctly, although imprecisely, evoke traces of vernacular patterns used in the decoration of vehicles, toys and façades of houses.
The making of Marcone Moreira’s works also poses doubts about their origin to those who approach them. Although the painted forms could, theoretically, have all been created by the artist, the careful examination of their surfaces exposes the signs (peeling paint, holes of nails and screws, traces of metalwork, familiar cut-offs) that, in fact, other hands were the ones that mounted and painted, some variable and uncertain time ago, what he shows as his works. Rather than painting, therefore, it is the procedure of appropriation and juxtaposition of objects or parts of them (even if coming from a look filled with interest about what is painted or dyed on them) that guides his creative practice. Permeating his entire production, there are few works in which this constructive operation becomes as evident as in those where he makes use of colored pieces of nylon, generally used as the backs and seats of chairs or to make bags.
By transforming these remains (of doors, boxes, truck body shells, boats, roofs, furniture and other objects) into new things, Marcone Moreira furthermore affirms the double importance that the place where he lives – the city of Marabá (Pará), far north in the country – has to his production. On the one hand, this place of intensive movement of people and cargo (it is the intersection of two rivers, the Transamazonica Highway and the Carajás Railway) is where most of the material comes from – discarded things that no longer have their original function, which the artist selects, sections, groups and resignifies as his own. On the other hand, for being the confluence of different routes and symbolic references irreducible to any other ones, Marabá’s urban dynamics might be taken as a metaphor of the constructive procedures he uses. In the city, as well as in his work, there is no space for accurate definitions of belonging or identity, requiring from its inhabitants (including him) constant translations of senses, necessarily doomed to opacity and, therefore, to an always inconclusive and temporary result.
The difficulty in classifying Marcone Moreira’s works into stable categories is reflected on the ambiguous dialog they establish with the production of two other Brazilian contemporary artists. At first glance, the wood cut-offs he exhibits relate to the works of Minas artist Celso Renato, who also appropriated, back in the 1960’s, wooden boards, construction debris or pieces of doors found in the street to – as opposed to Marcone Moreira, who just chooses and transports them to another place – make on them paintings of constructivist extraction, adding, through pigment, one more layer of meaning.
It is yet inevitable to approach his works to the paintings of Emmanuel Nassar, also a Pará artist that shares with Marcone Moreira the interest for the same impure visual repertoire of the region where they live. The artists differ, however, in a basic constructive procedure: whereas Emmanuel Nassar appropriates, most of the times, only the images found, remaking them on various supports (sometimes entirely, other times changing them), Marcone Moreira additionally appropriates the physical support (wood, nylon or anything else) of the images – previously dispersed anywhere – that attract him.
Before a set of his works, therefore, little can be said in a definite way. This imprecision does not result, however, from conceptual deficiencies or from constructive indecisions; on the contrary, it emerges from them, constituting their integrity: without choosing between painting or object and moving between scholarly and popular references, he appropriates what is already in the world without claiming, therefore, exclusive authorship of what results from his gesture. He ultimately brings to a precise time and place (the moment of each exhibition and the place of the field of art), indications of a time not known for sure and places that are just for passing by.
– “Marcone Moreira”, Paço das Artes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Liquid Territories”, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil
– “2º ato: Marcone Moreira”, Foundation Joaquim Nabuco, Recife, Brazil
– “Peso à Terra”, Galeria Blau Projects, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Visualidade Ambulante”, Funarte/ MG, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
– “Visualidade Ambulante”, Galeria Baró, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Superfícies”, Galeria Lurixs, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Banzeiro”, Centro Universitário Maria Antonia, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Arqueologia Visual”, Centro Cultural Banco da Amazônia, Belém, Brazil
– “Marcone Moreira”, Centro Cultural São Paulo, Brazil
– “Margem”, Galeria Lurixs, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Vestígios”, Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
– “Indícios”, Galeria Lurixs, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Vestígios”, Galeria Virgilio, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Tráfego Visual”, Galeria Graça Landeira, Belém, Brazil
– “Rotation run for art”, curated by Alfons Hug and co-curated by Paula Borghi, Palmas, Brazil
– “Singularidades/Anotações Rumos Artes Visuais 1998-2013, curated by Aracy Amaral, Paulo Miyada, and Regina Silveira, Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
– “Intervenções Urbanas”, curated by Isabel Sanson Portella, Museu da República, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Ficções”, curated by Daniela Name, Caixa Cultural, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “A casa dos pais”, curated by Raphael Fonseca, Casa Contemporânea, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Das Viagens”, dos Desejos, dos Caminhos, curated by Bitú Cassundé, Museu Vale, Vila Velha, Brazil
– “Pororoca – A Amazônia no MAR”, curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR-RJ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Rumos Legado”, Projeto Rumos, Itaú Cultural, São Paulo and other cities, Brazil
– “Um olhar sobre a coleção”, Foundation Clóvis Salgado, Ipatinga, Brazil
– “I Bienal do Barro”, Caruaru, Brazil
– “Projeto Campo Bahia”, Santo André, Brazil
– “Mundos Cruzados: Arte e Imaginário Popular”, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (MAM-RJ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Onde o Rio acaba”, Ateliê 397, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Bienal Internacional de Curitiba, Brazil
– “Mundos Cruzados”, MAM-Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “From the Margin To the Edge”, Somerset House, London, curated by Rafael Cardoso
– “Amazon Cycles of Modernity”, CCBB, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, curated by Paulo Herkenhoff
– “The First 10 years”, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil curated by Agnaldo Farias
– “Amazon Art”, Museu Vale, Espírito Santo, Brazil
– “Nova Arte Nova”, CCBB, São Paulo, Brazil curated by Paulo Venâncio Filho
– “Nova Arte Nova”, CCBB, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil curated by Paulo Venâncio Filho
– ARCO ContemporaryArt Fair, Madrid, Spain
– “The Tropics”, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil and Museum Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany, curated by AlfonsusHug.
– PINTA Art Fair – The Modern & Contemporary Latin American Art, New York, USA
– “Traces”, Museum Art of Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
– “Paradoxos Brazil/ Rumos Visuais”, Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Goiás, Brazil curated by Aracy Amaral
– “Panorama of Brazilian Art”, MARCO, Vigo, Spain, curated by Gerardo Mosquera
– “Panorama of Brazilian Art”, curated by Gerardo Mosquera
– “Faxinal das Artes”, Residency Program, Paraná, Brazil
Awards, Fellowships and Residencies
– Ficções Rurais: Construção e Pintura, artistic residency and workshop at NACO – Núcleo de Arte do Centro-Oeste Olhos D’Água, Alexânia, Brazil
2013 – 2014
– Artistic residency granted by Foundation Joaquim Nabuco in partnership with Centro Cultural do Banco do Nordeste (CCBNB), Recife, Brazil
– Production scholarship in Visual Arts, Funarte, Marabá, Brazil
– Marcantonio Vilaça award, CNI/SESI, Brazil
– Marcantonio Vilaça award, FUNARTE, Brazil
– Scholarship Research and Artistic Experimentation issued by the Institute of Arts of Pará, Belém, Brazil
– XV Salão da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
– Award Projectiles for Contemporary Art, Funarte, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– Exhibition Program of Centro Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil
– Fellowship Pampulha, Museu Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
– Grand Prize at the Art Salon XXII of Pará , Belém, Brazil
– X Salão da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
– Faxinal of Arts, residency, Paraná, Brazil
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