Rochelle Costi: Reforma
Rochelle Costi - "Reforma"
"Images of informal and improvised constructions, some of them abandoned or on the verge of falling apart, infiltrate the solar and crystalline order of the modern house designed by Rino Levi. But they do so without preserving the framed and distant aura of art photography, but rather as a common element of the house’s own architecture, in the form of a curtain, parasitizing the fireplace in the living room, camouflaged in the garden, or taking various other supports. This is not about a dual opposition between erudite rationalism and popular improvisation. The images that appear here do not exactly conflict with the modern house. They are its shadow, its fold, or its nightmare. This is what gives rise to the ambiguity between measured and unmeasured scales, or between reality and model, so well explored in the work of Rochelle Costi. The maquettes, present in the video and in one of the photos, are not designs for future architectural projects, but rather delvings into the world of intimacy, popular culture, children’s toys and the baroque excesses of collections of objects, the house and the dream of the house, ritualized in an ex-voto of procession.
A swimming pool taken over by moss, an ordinary cabinet that takes the place of the fireplace in the elegant central monument-totem of the house, Juscelino Kubitschek’s pink pajamas caged in a glass display case in his bedroom in the “Catetinho” – the wooden palace constructed as a residence for the president when he visited the capital under construction and an icon of the image of modernity in Brazil during the “golden years.” The artist’s gaze is at the same time affective and ironic. How does one live in a modern house? In what way does the normativity of its clean, reductive and essential design clash with the somewhat irrational overflowings of daily life, people’s needs for flexibility and change, which often wind up leading the residents to remodel their homes? Without seeking answers for an ideal compromise between design and use, Rochelle Costi leads us to imagine lines of escape, perversions, measures of avoidance. Between the design and the ex-voto, we can also begin, ourselves, to desire other such houses."
São Paulo, August 2018
Titled “Reforma” [Renovations], Rochelle Costi’s (b. 1961, Caxias do Sul) solo show occupies the Rino Levi room of Luciana Brito Galeria, whose modern architecture is used as background for the artworks, most of them hitherto unseen. The pieces portray spaces created through logics that are distinct of the modernist one, establishing a dialog between rationalism and improvisation.
Rochelle Costi’s production over the decades has been marked by an attentive, generous and humorous gaze over situations and spaces that escape the modernist rigueur for planning and order, and embrace (be it by desire or necessity) the unexpected and the improvised as constructive tools. Her production originally departs from tiny objects with no monetary value that she collects since her childhood, which are mostly arranged in installations, but quickly the artist’s urge to collect is expanded beyond the physicality of the world. She begins, then, to collect images, many of which are related to architectures and cities, but also to domestic spaces and other intimate elements, such as to the ways of life of diverse populations and social strata.
In “Reforma”, one observes a synthesis of the work that Rochelle has been realizing through the last decades, organized under the point of view of architecture. For the show, the modernist residence Castor Delgado Perez is literally appropriated as a background for images of spaces that do not share its logic and were motivated by different ideals. With photographs print on canvas that occupy full walls, and prints on fabric and on paper of several dimensions, the artist present scenes that, despite clandestine, seem to be integrated to the gallery’s minimalist architectonic lines. Such is the case, for example, of the installation Margins (2018), where one print of large dimensions on translucent fabric of a traditional riverside house in Northern Brazil rocks in the wind in front of Burle Marx’s winter garden – a clash between nature and designed landscape, in and out, the house in the woods and the woods in the house.
A rustic wooden house from countryside Rio Grande do Sul; a surprising sight of the National Congress in Brasília; bedrooms and other rooms occupied by diverse inhabitants – from anonymous people to former president Juscelino Kubitscheck –; and a fishermen shack by the sea shore used for the observation of the tides are some of the architectures placed in dialog with Rino Levi’s house. The configurations of such structures point to the need of improvisation and adaptation, as marking a trait of Brazilian culture as the modernist concepts that have impregnated the national set of ideals since 1950. In “Reforma”, the contrasts of a complex nation such as Brazil come to the forefront, through the point of view of the construction of spaces that, programmed or not, demonstrate a surprisingly efficient logic.
Rochelle Costi presents hers solo show at Luciana Brito Galeria
visitation: September 1st – October 13th
Tuesdays to Fridays, 10 am to 7 pm, Saturdays, 11 am to 6 pm