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Marra (1996)

Laura Lima

A term coined by Brazilian visual artist Tunga, and drive from Hélio Oiticica’s practices with dance and performance, is instauração. It is often used to express the in-between of installation and performance in Brazilian contemporary art. It is exactly this ‘in-between’ that Laura Lima explores in her work, the crossroad of performance and sculpture. The artist never performs herself but directs the actions. During her survey exhibition at the Museu de Arte in Belo Horizonte in 2001, the artist presented probably the most extensive series of what could best be described as ‘living sculptures’, even though the artist herself rejects such a classification. Over the course of several weeks, the audience could see a whole array of sculptural performances taking place simultaneously in several spaces in the museum. What connects Lima’s performances to sculpture is not only the constant presence of the pieces in the exhibition, which overcomes the usually inscribed temporality of performance, but also the highly artificial and often motionless, mechanical set-up. In her work, for example, a female performer lying silent and still on the floor, dressed in a maggot-like outfit, sleeping in the exhibition space for the whole duration of the show. Other pieces involve an almost psychotic form of repetition, such as two people who crawl on the floor over and over again, or others who push each other through the space with their heads joined by a specially designed hood covering their faces. Costumes are very important to Lima and an essential part of all her works. They can be understood as tools for the extension and transformation of the human body and are largely responsible for the creation of her unique hybrids. The costumes become the means to link the notion of motionless sculpture to the liveliness of the performers.

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