Play / Live
In Mudança de Jogo [‘Game Change’], the absence of metallic elements that have become characteristic in the work of Frida Baranek could be construed as a sign of transformation. Even so, many of the materials comprising the new sculptures have been used by her before. Indeed, her work has made use of processed materials from the mineral, vegetable and animal realms, such as marble dust and bits of rubber, felt and leather, or otherwise in the form of artefacts, as in this case: glass rods and hula hoops, hemp bags, sisal rope. The difference now is not so much in their variety, but rather the simultaneity with which she displays and experiments with them. And significantly, this calls to mind the beginning of her journey.
One may also note the persistence of a component that is common to the rope sculpture as well as to the print: entanglement, symbol of a tension between amorphous and structural elements with which her poetics have become fraught. In this connection, it should be pointed out that recently she began to present her experiments in the sculptural and graphic domains side by side — another marker for concomitant and interconnected experimentation.
Still another novel feature here is color, which, though it has precedents in her work, appears now in unprecedented ways. More than a mere chromatic diversity in the pieces and among them, the key thing is that each one of them, as well as the series as a whole, also derives its structure from dialogues among the actual shades of the materials.
Nonetheless, the biggest sign of change is the morphological indeterminacy of the sculptures. Up to this point, some of her pieces could assume different configurations upon being reassembled. The works in this series are not definitively assembled by the artist, and are subject to almost infinite restructuring based on the elements and rules that she has established.
Deriving from a reflection on her creation and from an impulse towards greater participation by others, her work confronts indeterminacy in a playful manner. As in other works of hers, she uses mundane objects as points of departure: hula hoops and the game of Pick-up Sticks, reminiscent of childhood amusements. Voids and holes, zones of permeation and overlap also suggest possibilities for manipulation and the rearrangement of pieces. Memory and experience seem indicative of works still in progress, although not quite.
The rules, just like certain particularities of the pieces, render the action viable while at the same time imposing limits on it. Despite its material, chromatic and formal sensory enticements, the play is tense. In their passage from the world of childhood to that of art, the toys become dysfunctional objects, and even somewhat hazardous. Delicate, breakable and possibly cutting, hula hoops and sticks instigate body-to-body contact, even as they offer up resistance. Sharp elements, twisted, perforated, stretched tight, with abrasive and silky passages, reduction to dust — in this series, there is no shortage of signs conjuring beauty and crisis, pleasure and pain.
More than a capacity to affirm and at the same time renew an artistic singularity, the play of opposites, of things staying the same or undergoing alteration, is an expression of vitality. It is not only the bodily allusions that make us think of the human and existential dimension of this series. After all, those who play are alive. And life can be understood as a game of continuities and changes to be structured.
© Roberto Conduru
In: Frida Baranek, Game Change. São Paulo: Gabinete de Arte Raquel Arnaud, 2014. (exhibition folder)