NoguerasBlanchard is pleased to announce the exhibition Cartographies by Brazilian artist Anna Bella Geiger born in Rio de Janeiro in 1933. This is the first in a series of exhibitions in the gallery space in Barcelona focusing on works produced in the seventies and eighties by Latin American women artists. This exhibition is formed by a set of drawings from the De Rerum Artibus (1978) series and a selection of videos made in the late seventies, Mapas elementares (1976).
Geiger has produced a large number of distinct bodies of work, executed in different media: prints, drawings, collages, paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos. This diversity is reinforced through the exploration of the ambiguity of Brazilianness, which she has been examining in relation to her own biography and self and to the changing socio-political and cultural context in which it has evolved.
An essential aspect of Geiger’s practice is working in series, because they allow her to develop mutations, variations and metamorphoses around a central theme. In the works exhibited, the map of South America is consistently mapped out and re-evaluated through self-referential equations. Two maps of America, equivalent to one or three, are multiplied together, added or canceled. This constant game of geographies, the blurring of boundaries of maps and territories, reflects a genuine interest to include a dialogue with the context and a reflection on the social instability in Latin America in those decades.
Geiger’s iconic maps have created a true “topography of art” (the place of art as geography and geography as a place of art), their abstract co-ordinates tracing imaginary meridians, parallels, cosmological charts etc. As a vital part of Geiger’s critical interrogation they simultaneously problematize the cultural, social, historical and political boundaries to articulate a territorial discourse where to confront the concepts of identity and otherness, national culture, the place of the artist in society and Brazil’s position in the world.
Geiger is also one of the pioneering artists of Brazilian conceptual video art. Geiger’s minimalist videos address a temporal duality from which to examine the artistic, political and social climate of Brazil in the seventies. The seemingly simple activities shown were considered highly subversive in the tense political climate of the country under dictatorship, in which any descent from “normalcy” was interpreted as a dangerous disguise for antagonistic divergence. In this struggle of meanings her work acquired sense and managed to build a genuine platform to reflect on its surroundings.
The video works shown here, from the series Mapas elementares are a visual poem in which Anna Bella Geiger alludes to the stereotypes and myths attributed to cultures from Latin America through the relationship between the anthropomorphic quality of the South Cone’s topography and semantic games which she establishes with words, between the formal and the metaphorical. So, the Latin American territory turns into an amulet representing mysticism, a mulata, representing the racial mix, and a crutch, representing neglect and economic dependence (in Spanish, amuleto, mulata, muleta). The rythm and lyrics of the bolero Virgen Negra, with transcribed English subtitles, accompanies the sequence.
Acknowledging the historical legacy of Geiger’s work does not isolate its meaning to a past context but recognizes its relevance in modern times, in how it reflects on a changing world, in constant readjustment, adaptation and expansion. Hence her highly valuable contribution to art that emerges in the past and is reaffirmed in the present.
Anna Bella Geiger (Rio de Janeiro, 1933) lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. She studied Linguistics and Anglo-Germanic Language and Literature in Brazil and Sociology and Art History at NYU and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Geiger received the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1982 and her works are part of numerous international collections such as: MoMA, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; MACBA, Barcelona; The Getty, Los Angeles; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Geiger has had major solo exhibitions such as On a Certain Piece of Land at Red Gate Gallery, Beijing in 2005 and Projects: Videos XXI at MoMA in 1978. Geiger has taken part in numerous collective exhibitions including seven editions of the São Paulo Biennial (6ª, 7ª, 8ª, 9ª, 14ª, 20ª y 27ª); On the Edge: Brazilian Film Experiments of the 1960s and Early 1970s, MoMA (2014); América Latina Photographs 1960/2013, Foundation Cartier (2013); La Idea de América Latina, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo de Sevilla (2012); Video Vintáge, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2012); Geopoéticas, 8ª Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre (2011); Modern Women Single Channel at MoMA PS1, New York (2011); Espai de Lectura 1: Brasil at MACBA, Barcelona (2009); Cartografias del Deseo, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2000). Geiger represented Brazil in the 39ª Venice Biennale in 1980.
With many thanks to the collaboration of Henrique Faria Fine Art, New York.