Marcia Pastore: como produzir tensão

A deformed mass takes hold of the hand gesture. The building’s geometry is weight-tested. The body stamps its emptiness on the matter. Voids become solid. Marcia Pastore’s new exhibition is entitled Como produzir tensão [How to build tension]. “Como” [How] – a prominent term – is the centrepiece of the artist’s career; a hint for understanding her work. She ponders her processes. Her work requires careful deliberation about her actions and the right choice of verbs to describe it. The exhibition is an ensemble that plays with language, urging us to use it to define what we see, how operations are triggered and, based on this, to understand the mechanism at work. All this may seem quite difficult, but it takes the bare minimum: coming face-to-face with the work and understanding how it unfolds.

Born in São Paulo, Marcia Pastore is one of a generation of Brazilian artists who, since the 1990s, have devoted their time to developing works that exert tension on life experiences to the point of making them thicker, expanding our friction zone with everyday life. Marcia’s oeuvre stands out for considering her own body as a scale without ever viewing it as a universal principle. It constitutes a peculiar measuring instrument, verifying the world without mapping it out or advocating a standard experience. To this end, it continually struggles with the inability to redo reality from what she has apprehended of it – highlighting the holes, gaps and emptiness left between art and what it refers to. These gaps take on substance in the artist’s practice.

The set exhibited at the gallery illustrates how Marcia accomplishes this, and then draws interest from the range of techniques, revealing her ethical undertaking to understand and engage with the context in which she works, rather than overbearingly imposing her presence. One may thus recognise two vectors in her research: the one investing in spatial direction, to get to know it through her work. And one focused on the body as a way of experiencing the world.

About the space: Marcia grasps its structure by layering straps following the geometry of the wooden scissors supporting the ceiling. This geometry is distorted by weighing it down with cylinders found in junkyards. The same pattern is explored with thread and needlework attracted to magnetised spots. Neither of these operations explains or depicts the space – instead, they test and strain its functioning, as if in a dialogue made up of arguments, not syntheses.

About the body: the gap mechanism and the array of kneaded gestures are movement traces and remains. The body, in Marcia’s work, is a confrontation technique. The experience of recognising it, marking it and registering its development through space produces solid elements. Elements that neither figure nor represent a body but are products of the relationship. This is what the artist is interested in: holding on to and materialising these relationships, specifically because she understands that this negotiation – fleeting and constant – is where we can establish a way of inhabiting space, a way of being.

Of everything on display, the video is the most recent. It features Marcia’s legs enveloped in threads tensioned by the simple motion of opening and closing. The novelty is that the body emerges as the subject of the work, where the transforming gesture takes place. This proposition opens a new path. A new route that submits the body to the rationale of this years-long labour; the body as a consequence of its relationships, a body made up of negotiations, a body willing to be stressed by experience. Marcia Pastore: how to build tension.


Until September 30, at Usina Luis Maluf, in São Paulo.

Yuri Quevedo is a curator at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo and a professor of Art History at the Escola da Cidade. He graduated in Architecture and Urbanism from the same institution and has a master's degree in Art History from FAUUSP.

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