Broodthaers, who created a fictional museum, wins an exhibition in SP – 04/05/2022 – Illustrated

Belgian poet Marcel Broodthaers declared, at the age of 40, that he was an artist – and not without a good dose of irony.

He took to his first exhibition, in 1964, a series of unsold copies of his last book, “Pense-Bête”, buried in plaster. It is not possible to read them beyond the cover, nor to handle them. His work as a poet became a three-dimensional piece, and the ambiguous games with words were transferred to the visual universe.

For Marie-Puck Broodthaers, his daughter, he made a statement that he wanted to have his work known beyond poetry that was neither bought nor read. “I even wonder if I could sell something and succeed in life,” said the artist about the economic reason for the career shift.

The Belgian also started a good-humored trajectory there that poked the art institutions inside the circuit, what authenticity is and the effects of mass production in the warlike climate of the Cold War.

Part of his brief visual career, which lasted until his death in 1976, is in the exhibition “Marcel Broodthaers: Décor”, at the São Paulo gallery Gomide&Co, which is located in a house designed by the modernist Flávio de Carvalho. This is, by the way, a rather rare chance to see the poet’s production in Brazil.

The last time works came here was in 2006, when he was a central name at the 27th Bienal de São Paulo, organized by Lisette Lagnado, who was also a consultant on the current exhibition. At the time, Broodthaers was the only one to have a specific curator, the German Jochen Volz, now director of the Pinacoteca.

Thiago Gomide, owner of Gomide&Co, remembers that it is not an easy task to bring his works here — they are works demanded by institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, MoMA, and the Reina Sofía Museum, in Madrid, in a production of just over a decade, and many are in private collections.

Still, the selection of 37 works that came after three years of organizing with Marie-Puck Broodthaers has some of her most iconic works.

One of them is the installation “Ne Dites Pas que Je Ne l’ai Pas Dit [Não diga que eu não o disse]”, from 1974, in which he brings together palm trees, a parrot and a showcase with copies of the catalog of an exhibition of his in 1966 to the sound of a recording of a poem he wrote himself.

It is an arrangement of text, sound, video and objects, mixing words with works of art, which also indicates the influence of the poet Stéphane Mallarmé in his production.

“What is painting? Well, it’s literature. What, then, is literature? Well, it’s painting,” said the Belgian in a 1963 text.

But just four years after declaring himself to be an artist, Broodthaers resigned from his profession to become director of the Museum of Modern Art – Department of Eagles. He gathered in this fictional and itinerant project documents, posters and invitations — all objects that refer to the activities of a real museum, but which are not the works themselves.

The criticism he made of becoming an authority figure is close to what he developed, for example, in 1969’s “La Signature”, with a repetitive reproduction of his signature. After all, authenticity is what feeds the market — both art and literature to some extent.

The almost futile effort of the artwork also appears in the video “La Pluie”, from the same year, in which Broodthaers himself tries to write a text with a fountain pen under a storm. The act, therefore, never materializes on the page.

The Belgian also sang, still with humor, the warlike and industrial climate that crossed the world in his time with works of coal piles and a small atlas, for example. In the four-by-three-centimeter book entitled “La Conquête de L’espace, Atlas à l’usage des Aartistes et des Militaires [A Conquista do Espaço, Atlas para Uso de Artistas e Militares”, todos os países têm exatamente o mesmo tamanho.

Até em seus “Poemas Industriais”, placas feitas de plástico que criou ainda como diretor de seu museu fictício, ele opõe no título a criação puramente humana ao ritmo da produção em massa, como lembra Thiago Gomide.

O conceito que dá nome à mostra, “Décor”, se referia ao projeto do artista de cada exposição ser uma espécie de obra em si, como se a própria mostra fosse uma linguagem. Broodthaers inclusive reuniu obras mais antigas e recentes nos seus últimos anos de produção, em trabalhos que se tornaram uma espécie de instalação retrospectiva de sua carreira.

“Atualmente, para jovens artistas, essas estratégias aparecem como dadas. Mas é mais interessante e inspirador voltar a Broodthaers e ver como seu trabalho conseguiu articular uma crítica contemporânea, isso há mais de 30 anos”, disse o curador Jochen Volz na ocasião da Bienal que trouxe obras do belga.

O tom crítico e irônico das obras, que ressoa na arte contemporânea, evoca a diversão de uma de suas frases mais célebres — “Aqui brincamos todos os dias, até o fim do mundo”.

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