Having started his career in Mexico with a formalist sculptural research that made a comment on Latin-American modernisms through everyday objects, Zamora observes a significant shift in his production after his participation in the 27th Bienal de São Paulo and his subsequent move to Brazil: “I started to focus on works that establish a dialog with the context where they are presented. They are actions composed by two or three elements, such as destroying a boat or making clay tiles, which create catalysts capable of reverberate on the pre-existing meanings of the local environment, as well as relate to more universal values”, he explains.
For its realization at the 11th Bienal do Mercosul, “CAPA-CANAL”, 13 performers of diverse genres and racial heritages – thus representing the heterogeneity of Brazilian population – sitting on wooden stools shaped over 500 clay tiles on their thighs over the course of two hours. Later, the molded tiles were burnt, originating the ceramic pieces that are exhibited at Luciana Brito Galeria as an installation that also includes a new video created from footage of the performance.
The work departs from the typically Brazilian idiom “feito nas coxas” (literally “made on the thighs”). It is commonly believed in Brazil that the expression, used to express that something was poorly made, was originated from the idea that slaves molded tiles on their thighs. “It has now been proved that there were never any tiles made on slaves’ thighs, that is a myth already discredited by Brazilian historians. It is now believed that the expression was originated during the Brazilian Empire, when having sexual intercourse outside of marriage was forbidden”, the artist explains.
The expression – which in Portugal has kept its original connotation of masturbation or thighs rubbing – would, therefore, have an erotic meaning, referring to sexual practices that would somehow circumvent the Catholic imposition of a virgin marriage. “Even as a myth, this interpretation around slavery seems pertinent and is indeed part of the artwork, as it reflects something true about Brazilian reality. It symbolizes very well the racism and the precarity of labor relations that endure in Brazil until this day”, he affirms.
For the show, Zamora is also preparing a new performance to be presented during the opening day. Conceived for the façade of Luciana Brito Galeria, the work departs from a reflection on the contradictions of Brazilian modernism. From the architectural point of view, modernity gave origin to utopic constructions, some of which became symbolic of an optimistic country on its way to progress, of a more egalitarian and fair society. Such constructions, however, failed to include precisely those who erected them, which has caused such buildings to become monuments of a certain good taste that is only accessible to the wealthy – denouncing that, since its beginning, modernism carried in itself the seeds to its own failure.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)