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Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj: I blew on Mr. Greenhill's main joints with a very ‘hot’ breath

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Date: 
Saturday, 24 February 2018 to Sunday, 3 June 2018
Opening: 
Saturday, 24 February 2018 - 12:00pm to 2:00pm

I blew on Mr. Greenhill's main joints with a very ‘hot’ breath is the first UK exhibition in a public institution by Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj. It presents moving image and photographic works from the last ten years selected in response to the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, a modernist building that opened in 1935 as ‘the people’s pavilion for art and culture’.

Together and separately, Guimarães and Akhøj explore objects, situations and the residual histories of art, design, architecture and the institutions that present them, often exposing unexpected connections between states of rapture and modernity. For the last five years, much of their work has emerged from research undertaken in Palmelo, a small town in the Brazilian interior. Built in the 1930s around a study group and a sanatorium, many of Palmelo’s 2,000 inhabitants are Spiritist mediums who practise a collective healing form they call the ‘magnetic chain’.

The exhibition’s title relates the Spiritist community of Palmelo to Bexhill-on-Sea. It is a phrase from the memoirs of Arthur Spray (1889 – 1961), who lived in the town throughout the 1930s and practised healing through hypnosis, direct touch and at times by blowing on body parts, from the upper floors of his cobbler shop a few streets away from the Pavilion. Through the lens of a shared legacy, the show brings together the disparate histories of Brazil and Bexhill-on-Sea.

Guimarães and Akhøj’s most recent film, Studies for A Minor History of Trembling Matter (2017) follows Lázaro and Divino, two of Palmelo’s Spiritist mediums. In the film, Lázaro speaks of hearing voices, their significance, about the magnetic chain, electricity, thought conduits and fits of slumber: the ‘fierce sleep’ that precedes his astral travelling.

An earlier collaborative work, Captain Gervásio’s Family (2014) describes the lengths that one of Palmelo’s mediums underwent to draw a map charting twenty astral cities hovering above Brazil. The cities are described as ‘like those on earth but infinitely more perfect’, and entail a splendid vision of modernity – a fable of continuous progress and urbanisation. The film juxtaposes footage of Palmelo’s mediums in action with modernist architecture in the cities of Brasília, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It invites us to imagine that these buildings might have been projected from the bodies of the mediums like ectoplasm: materialising the astral cities they describe, and suggesting that these real and imagined places could be an embodiment of utopian thought.

The exhibition also includes Akhøj’s Welcome (To the Teknival), a series of photographs taken in France between 2009 and 2017 during the ongoing restoration of villa E-1027, Maison en bord de mer, the modernist house designed by Irish architect Eileen Gray. They are based on Gray's photographs, first published by Jean Badovici in the journal L’Architecture Vivante in 1929, the year their villa was finished. Gray described the house as a living organism, an extension of human experience. Akhøj’s photographs reproduce Gray's original compositions, capturing the process of change - graffiti made by squatters, or the restoration tools that now take the place of Gray’s personal possessions.

Finally, Guimarães’s film Canoas (2010) is set around a staged cocktail party in Casa das Canoas, the iconic home that architect Oscar Niemeyer built for himself in Rio de Janeiro in 1951. The building, which was the site of many important cultural gatherings, helped project an idea of Brazil as an emerging modern paradise. In Canoas, the comings and goings of waiters and butlers suggest a series of interactions, many of them in tension with the utopian aspirations of the modernist project and the unequal social relations upon which it was grounded.

Unfolding throughout the exhibition space, a large curtain provides an environment for the works. The undulating form, designed by the artists in collaboration with Frederico Fazenda, echoes curtains seen in photographs of the De La Warr Pavilion when it first opened, as well as curves found in the work of Oscar Niemeyer and his collaborator Roberto Burle Marx. The artists invite the viewer to imagine that this curtain might also stand between the earth and the spirit world – the domain of Persephone ­– the goddess who, according to the original plans for the Pavilion, was to guard it, in the form of a sculpture by Frank Dobson that stands in front of the building, looking out to sea.

Image: Tamar Guimarães, Canoas (film still), 2010 © Tamar Guimarães, Courtesy of the artist and Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo

Artist ( Description ): 

The collaborative work of Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj has been exhibited at the LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA); Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (DK); Baltimore Museum of Art (USA); the Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo (USA); the Belgian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennial (I); the International Exhibition at the 55th Venice Biennial (I); the 31st São Paulo Biennial (BR); the 11th Sharjah Biennial (UAE); the Jeu de Paume Satellite, Paris (FR); the Banff Centre, Alberta (CA); Lunds Konsthall (SE); Malmö Museum (SE) and South London Gallery (UK). Their joint work is held in the collection of the Museo Reina Sofia (ES).

 

About Tamar Guimarães (b.1967, Belo Horizonte, Brazil):

Tamar Guimarães has held solo exhibitions at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (ES); Pink Summer/Palazzo Ducale, Genova (I); Gasworks, London (UK) and the IMA Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (AU). Guimarães’ solo works have been included in group exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, NY (USA); the SculptureCenter (NY/USA); the 29th São Paulo Biennial (BR); the 7th Gwangju Biennial (SK); the Jumex museum, Mexico (MX); the 3rd Guanghzhou Triennial (CN); SESC, São Paulo (BR); Frac/Le Plateau, Paris (FR); CAC Synagogue de Delme (FR) and MAM Museum of Modern Art, SP (BR). Her solo works are represented in the collections of the Tate Modern (UK); the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation, N.Y. (USA); Museo Reina Sofia (ES); Frac Lorraine (FR); Inhotim (BR); Guandong Museum (CN) and CIFO (USA). Guimarães lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

About Kasper Akhøj (b.1976, Copenhagen):

Kasper Akhøj has held solo exhibitions at the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, Villa Sauber (MC); Wiels Center for Contemporary Art, Brussels (BE); Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (DE) and Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam (NL). Akhøj’s solo works have been included in group exhibitions at MAR - Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro (BR); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (IL); NEST, Contemporary Art Center, Den Haag (NL); MoMA PS1, New York (USA); Kunsthalle Wien (AT); Frac des Pays de la Loire (FR); Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn (EE); Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York (USA); MAP-Martin Ambach Projechte, Düsseldorf (DE); ISCP, New York (USA); Ludlow 38 / Goethe-Institut NY, (USA); 28th São Paulo Biennial (BR) and 3rd Guangzhou Triennial (CN). His solo works are represented in the collections of the Frac des Pays de la Loire (FR) and Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (MC). Akhøj lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Telephone: 
(0) 1424 229 111
Venue ( Address ): 

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN40 1DP

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