Some and others
Lenora de Barros’s exhibition gathers visual elements and sound perfor- mance, with a series of 65 columns published in Jornal da Tarde from 1993 to 1996. Daughter of Geraldo de Barros, as a child she was already acquainted with Concrete poets. Her work, which can be placed somewhere between language, image and sound, can also be related to Pop Art, the group Fluxus, Neoconcretism and conceptual art, not to mention Rock’n’Roll. “Lenora’s work,” affirms Augusto de Campos, “has expanded from written visual po- etry – ONDE SE VÊ [“WHERE ONE CAN SEE”] (1983) – towards the open universe of videoforms, [...] visually intensified words, brought to the surface, verb-body-identified, shaped in sensory biometaphors – face, gesture, voice.” 1
Among her well-known works are Poema (1979), in which she licks the keyboard of a typewriter, or Procuro-me [Wanted by Myself ] (2001), in which she appears wearing different wigs, wide-eyed, with the words ”wanted by myself,” in direct reference to the FBI, but also to Duchamp’s Wanted. This work was published in the old newspaper supplement Mais! of Folha de S. Paulo, shortly after September 11, 2001. In Lenora’s work, poetry, the performing arts and plastic works “are brought together in a single synthesis under the sign of photographic objectivity,” as pointed out by Tadeu Chiarelli. 2
The blurred boundaries between different languages, initiated by twenti- eth-century avant-garde movements, became more radical in the 1960/70s, at the beginning of Lenora’s career. She met Concrete poets when they no longer wrote Concrete poetry in its most radical and orthodox form, from them she inherited and incorporated a certain constructive mastery, rigour and, above all, the verbivocovisual language. So dear to those poets, this concept taken from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, reasserts the connection between words, images and sound. In Lenora’s visual arts context, it extends towards images, not only words.
“Poetry Is Something From Nothing”, followed by the reversed sentence, the artist wrote in one of her “... umas” columns. Exquisitely laid out by Lenora herself, those columns published in the newspaper indicate different perspectives. A kind of studio or gallery, she says, for several of her works derived from things made to published, like, for example, “De Olho na Mão” [“With One Eye on the Hand”] which presents several photographs of famous people cov- ering their eyes with their hands, and the poem: “The hand /That covers/ The touch/ Of the eye/ Cannot see/ The eye/ Doesn’t live/ With no touch”. ”This column originated her video Não Quero Nem Ver [I DON’T WANT TO SEE NOTHING](2005), displayed at the 5th Mercosul Biennial in the same year, when she started to really follow the work of video editing, finally having an active voice in the making of her videos. The columns deal with other themes as well, where visual poetry is very strong, like for example, “Happy New Ear,” with the sentence “happy new ear happy new eye happy new mouth happy new nose,” repeated in the entire column, revisiting a sentence by John Cage. Or “Amnésia 42 MP,” with the drawing of a floppy disk and the words: “the memory / of my / memory / was erased from itself / to forget me.” And also the text “Há Mulheres” [“There are women”], later transformed into a video with the same title, in which the thoughts of a woman are written and uttered: “There are women who think from the body of the idea. There are women who think from the body of the image. There are women who think. There are women who are.”
Humorously and with full mastery of Art History, Lenora comments on works by different artists, mainly in her criticism columns, sometimes about only one artist and sometimes about several at the same time. Her critiques are poetic. Artists such as Lygia Clark, Duchamp, John Cage, Yoko Ono, with exclusive columns or not, are recurring, and she talks about many others, including Giacometti, Oldenbourg, Jasper Johns, Michael Heizer, Hélio Oiticica, Piero Manzoni, and George Segal. These columns originated the book Crítica de Arte – Livro Primeiro [Art Criticism – First Book], presented, but not yet published, in a bilingual version, with Game of Checkers as the cover image, with the words “How two numbers one divided by it selves revives singularly destinies dis-mirrored”. In a way, we can see in “Umas e Outras” a development of her columns, with recurring issues, a process always present in her poetics. In a three-channel video of Jogo de Damas [Game of Checkers] series, especially created for this exhibition, she does vocal performances of her own texts written for the column “... umas,” dialoguing with the work of other artists, including Lygia Clark, Cindy Sherman and Yoko Ono. The sound of the video can be heard while watching the next video, in a form of dialogue. In a two-channel video, Em Si as Mesmas [In Themselves the Same], also produced for the exhibition, she plays checkers with herself, with a spe- cific sound treatment, where the sounds of the pieces touching the board and the artist walking on a floor covered in sand in a building under renovation are amplified. The videos, made by David Pacheco, edited by Rodrigo Lima, with sound treatment by Rodrigo Marçal, carry out the un-mirroring men- tioned by Lenora in her criticism book.
Although she does not regard herself as a videomaker, or work with video as a language, she always has a pre-script, a “little narrative,” taking part in editing, thus creating an edited performance. Jogo de Damas and Em si as Mesmas are works that operate the verbivocovisual, with an eye on the materiality of the signs in all their angles, like semantic spectra, oralisation and visual aspects, with special attention to graphical structure.
“Umas e Outras” creates a situation in which the artist unfolds into lenoras, playing in multiple positions, moving from one “she” to another. “De- reconstruction of self and being,” to quote Augusto de Campos once again. 3
1 Augusto de Campos. Lenora, videoformas: de onde se vê a não quero nem ver. In: Relivro. Lenora de Barros. Rio de Janeiro: Automática / Oi Futuro, 2011.
2 Tadeu Chiarelli. Isso não tem graça nenhuma: notas sobre alguns trabalhos de Lenora. In: Relivro. Lenora de Barros. Op. cit.
3 Augusto de Campos. Op. cit.
Umas e Outras was originally produced for the Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim, in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), in August/October, 2013, under the curatorship of Glória Ferreira.