Laura Lima‘s works are experimental arrangements that explore our perception along the boundaries of reality, illusion, and fiction. Her scenarios, in which the human body is often the central medium and driving force, combine performative elements with various forms of artistic expression such as drawing, sculpture, and installation. Lima never appears in her pieces herself, instead delegating her dramaturgic specifications to selected protagonists. The Brazilian artist’s first solo exhibition in Switzerland presents the works Bar Restaurant (2010/13) and The Naked Magician (2008/10/13), selected performative installations with a focus on the magical.With the works presented in Zurich, at Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, she evokes mysterious worlds that revolve around the subject of magic. A long passageway leads to the work that has given the show its title, Bar Restaurant (2010/13), whose appearance initially suggests an everyday situation in a bar. However, stacks of paper, salt blocks, colorful geometric figures, and amorphous clay masses are placed on the chairs as “guests”, and on the tables there are full glasses of chilled beer that mysteriously empty themselves. A protagonist acting as a waiter continuously refills the glasses, maintaining the strange scenario. The formal vocabulary suggests a reference to late-1950s Brazilian art, when Concrete Art started to integrate time and the human body into the works in a challenge to the era’s ascetic geometry and its association with industry and progress.Behind the closed doors of a second corridor that branches off from the first, the next work that awaits the visitors is The Naked Magician, a different form of which was shown in 2010 as part of the exhibition Grande at the Casa França-Brasil in Rio de Janeiro. The space opens up again and reveals, in a labyrinthine arrangement, a system of shelves whose slanted structures partly appear to defy gravity and form the installational framework for a protagonist instructed by Lima. Dressed in a short-sleeved black tailcoat, this protagonist pursues what seem to be the puzzling activities of a magician. Both pieces display rational order side by side with the magically animated—an aspect which, especially in light of the ongoing boom in magic within Western popular media and the simultaneously increasing purpose-driven rationalization of all realms of life, suggests a reading that refers to the dualisms of our time.
Laura Lima: Bar Restaurant, 23 Nov 2013 — 02 Feb 2014