Chelpa Ferro is a Brazilian collective comprised of artists Barrão, Luiz Zerbini, and Sergio Mekler that was formed in 1995. Already independently renowned, they got together under the umbrella Chelpa Ferro Portuguese slang for money and steelwith the objective of doing some leisurely experimentation outside the constraints of their primary individual art careers.
Chelpa Ferros first US exhibition brings their fresh, somewhat chaotic, and savvy interdisciplinary approach to objects that they transform into animate sculptures and sound-creating devices to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
. The project, which has received funding support from the National Endowment for the Arts, will remain on view through January 8, 2012.
Chelpa Ferro is well known for squeezing a rhythmical sound from seemingly non musical devices such as electric toothbrushes, drills, sewing machines, or juice makers, and using them in their installations and performances. At The Aldrich, the Acusma installation fills the gallery with a sound resembling a group of people coming together to sing. However, the sound does not visually match the source, which turns out to be a series of beautiful Brazilian ceramic vases spread out on the gallery floor, with loudspeakers playing up to five different recorded voices inside each vessel.
Curator Mónica Ramírez-Montagut says, In Chelpa Ferros work, the blend of high tech equipment (speakers, cables, computers, and sophisticated computer programming) is integrated with traditional Brazilian crafts and domestic objects, providing a new and surprising visual representation of sound and conferring an aura of mystery upon these mundane objects.
An eloquent example of this is found in the thirty motors of kitchen blenders used in the Jungle Jam installation. The motors are displayed in a horizontal line around all the walls of the gallery space, with plastic bags from vendors local to The Aldrich attached to each one. When the motors are running, the plastic bags hit the gallery wall, creating different sounds. The motors are coordinated through a computer system that functions as an orchestra conductor, directing the whole ensemble.