Dora Longo Bahia

Dora Longo Bahia

Felix Culpa

Galeria Pedro Cera is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in Portugal by the Brazilian conceptual artist Dora Longo Bahia, which will be on show until the 12th of May.

In this exhibition Bahia is presenting a set of works on different supports but with a common trait of representing violence, whether explicitly, during warfare, or in a more or less covered manner that is political, literary, sexual and more or less sophisticated.

In “A Girl A Gun – American Shot”, a series of 195 paintings on paper that has its closest reference in the idea expressed by Jean-Luc Godard that all that one needs to make a good film is a girl and a gun, she constructs a narrative out of 195 cinematographic narratives that contain 195 women with weapons, always portrayed in a so-called “American shot” (the term for medium-long shot used by French criticism to describe a common style of shot in cheap Westerns, showing both the cowboy’s face and gun/virile area). The unusual sexism in this phrase by Godard (an author that she openly admires) and the dichotomy of the gun-penis representation are ambiguities that interest Bahia and which have come together in carrying out this series.

The series Farsa (Farse), two works from which are presented in this exhibition, proposes to see painting as an area of knowledge in which images from the history of art, from photojournalism and from cinematographic fiction are formally and conceptually linked. Its aim is to maintain the critical function characteristic of modernism, this time directed at other systems of images that cannot totally be dealt with by the system of art. Through a reinterpretation of works from the past, with emphasis on the mark left by exemplary images, the intention is to re-establish the relationship between painting and contemporary reality, redefining the limits of painting in critical terms and soothing the distinctive tension between the mediums of painting and of things.

Thus, in similar position and occupying painting surfaces that are the same size, there emerge Che Guevara, a revolutionary hero killed by the Bolivian army, and Edson Luís, a Brazilian student murdered during the dictatorship in Brazil, in the place of David’s The Death of Marat.

“Dialética”, the new video work, which follows on from the yet-unreleased feature-length work “O caso Dora” (a reference by Bahia to Freud, not to herself), shows a triple projection with a performance by Shibari, a performance of Sado-Masochistic domination and an excerpt from the text “Master and Slave”,  by Hegel.

Dora Longo Bahia here deals with the subjects of domination, of subjugation and of interdependence. The master needs the compliance and acknowledgement of the subjugated person in order to dominate, as the only possibility in which there is the power of transformation lies with the subjugated person, with Hegel’s slave. Only he can transform himself by not depending on the acknowledgement of the other in order to be what he is.

In this, as in most of her works, violence is observed. Danger, threat, whether present or latent, urgency, subversion, subjugation, domination. It is like this in “Dialética” and also in “Mateus e Paula”, the sculpture made up of two bodies engraved with tattoos of a couple belonging to the Russian Mafia, or in the idyllic landscapes of “Felix Culpa”, a tropical beach threatened by the blood red of the sixteenth-century caravel that is coming close to the Indian’s coconut palm.

Dora Longo Bahia was born in 1961 in Sao Paulo, where she lives and works. She has a Ph.D in Visual Poetics from the University of Sao Paulo School of Communications and Arts, where she lectures. Of note among in her recent exhibitions, among other works, are: “Desastres da Guerra” (Disasters of War), at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, in Recife, and at the Figueiredo Ferraz Institute, in Ribeirão Preto, “140 Caracteres” (140 Characters), at the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo, “Imaginários Contemporâneos” (Contemporary Imaginaries), at the Monterrey Technological Museum, Monterrey, “The Spiral and the Square”, at the SKMU Sorlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand, Norway and the Bonnier Konsthall, Stockholm, and “Video et Aprés”, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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