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Brazilian artist Laura Lima's first solo exhibition in Switzerland on view at Migros Museum fr Gegenwartskunst
Laura Lima, Bar Restaurant, 2010/13. Ausstellungsansicht, Migros Museum fr Gegenwartskunst. Foto: FBM studio. Courtesy of the artist and A Gentile Carioca, Rio de Janeiro.
ZURICH.- The artistic practice of Laura Lima (b. Governador Valadares, Brazil, 1971; lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is defined by her fascination with the complexity of social relations and forms of human behavior. Her scenarios, in which the human body is often the central medium and driving force, combine performative components with a wide range of media of artistic expression such as drawings, sculptures, and installations. Lima herself never acts in her pieces, instead instructing selected protagonists to enact her dramaturgic designs. The Brazilian artist’s first solo exhibition in Switzerland features The Naked Magician (2008/10/13) and Bar Restaurant (2010/13), a selection of performative installations that focuses on the question of magic.

Laura Lima’s works are experimental arrangements that explore the margins of our perception along the boundaries between reality, illusion, and fiction. In the works presented in Zurich, she evokes mysterious worlds that revolve around the question of magic without raising it openly.

A slightly different version of The Naked Magician was on display in 2010 as part of the exhibition Grande at the Casa Frana-Brasil, Rio de Janeiro. An apparently chaotic system of shelves—the arrangement looks like frozen in mid-collapse—forms a installational framework in which a protagonist executes Lima’s instructions. Dressed in a well-fitting suit—only the sleeves are far too short—he imperturbably pursues occupations that remain opaque. A plethora of different objets trouvs sits scattered across the slanted shelves—defying gravity—serving the performer as materials and tools for his incessant activities, whose purposes are never explained but which nonetheless do not seem arbitrary. The beholder becomes the observer of his creative actions a constant balancing act between chaos and order, insanity and reason: complementary opposites that appear in an inseparable union.

Lima’s second work, Bar Restaurant (2010/13), is set in a peculiar sort of bar: its furniture is occupied not by people but by objects. Stacks of paper, sacks of flour, cylindrical figures and rectangular solids in bright colors sitting on chairs, with full glasses of beer on tables arranged in front of them that mysteriously empty over time. A protagonist playing the waiter busily refills the glasses, maintaining the strange situation. Once again, the work sets up a scenario that evokes associations of magical, ineffable, and sometimes absurd goings-on amid a perfectly “normal” everyday setting.

Both pieces display aspects of rational order side by side with magical animation without passing value judgment on either — especially in light of the booming interest in magic in the Western popular media, which coexists uneasily with the rigorous rationalization of all realms of our lives, that suggests a reading in which Lima’s works point up the dualisms of our time.

Laura Lima’s works have been presented at Art’s House, Melbourne, Australia (2013), the Ruhrtriennale, Essen (2012), the Lyon Biennial, the Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, and the Manchester Art Gallery (all in 2011). Lima is also a cofounder and artistic advisor of the artist-run gallery A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro.

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