Lenora de Barros has a very close relationship with the heritage of the Brazilian constructivist project and, particularly, with the Concrete movement in São Paulo. There is, of course, the biographic data: she’s the daughter of Geraldo de Barros (1923-1998), one of the most important names in this movement, not only for his work as for the fact that his field of operation preserves the original utopia of the German and Russian roots of constructivism: the artistic experience had to extend itself to useful applications in people’s everyday lives. He was a painter, engraver, photographer, graphic and product designer. The artist has transformed this familiar heritage into an intellectual heritage which can be featured as an authentic elective affinity. But why do I care about this data? Because Lenora’s work is a clear demonstration that the recognition of constructivism’s contribution does not imply in the blind reproduction of its dogmas. Lenora has this contribution as a background and a reservoir of intellectual energy that, in her work, is transformed into the aesthetic problems of the present.
Four stages of four different experiences are presented in sequence, in Lenora de Barros’s four videos: Tato do olho (The touch of the eye) (time: 1’00), Ela não quer ver (She doesn’t want to see) (time: 4’04), Já vi tudo (I’ve seen it all) (time: 9’50) and Há mulheres (There are women) (time: 1’00). Tato do olho (The touch of the eye) opens the series with an irony on the cartesian view of the sensitive world that used to compare the touch to the look and got to the point of finding very close equivalencies between both senses. This point of view was eventually criticized by Merleau-Ponty in Olho e o Espírito (The eye and the spirit). Two elements are constant in the three videos, the use of the close-up and of the word poetically structured as a narrative. In Tato do olho (Touch of the eye) the intervention of words occurs exclusively in the subtitles and the close-up is kept on the face of the artist; the action is dumb, strictly punctuated by the sound of covering the eyes with one’s own hands. Poetry and image are always present in Lenora’s work. If the concision of the image and the use of the fixed camera could be attributed to a constructivist economy, she withdraws from it when she introduces a dramatic interpetation, of an ambiguous character, actually ambivalent. which introduces a strong tension in the four works. It alternates from a true drama to the most complete comic effect in, for example, Ela não quer ver (She doesn’t want to see) and Já vi tudo (I’ve seen it all). It culminates in Há mulheres (There are women) where the dramatic tone lowers to degree zero for a poetic reading on the female condition. The genre character that crosses all of her work in no time slides into feminist populism. On the opposite, even before this last moment of the process distributed into four parts, Ela não quer ver (She doesn’t want to see) and Já vi tudo (I’ve seen it all) had already shown us two extremes of the same female spirit. Through this poetic intelligence, the human condition and the female condition become blended in a productive symbiosis in the work of Lenora de Barros.