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.
Confrontos refers to an attitude as much as to a work process, thus introducing an affective dimension that infuses the object with a lived-in emotion, in a confrontation where to endeavor and to try oneself out appear as constitutive elements of the experience. The existential poetic, the need to confront and to confront oneself without any formal predetermination, reveals the phenomenological approach of these objects. Art and life form a whole that originates within the experience itself. The sculpture of Frida Baranek is the expression of the examination of her perceptive life, her feelings and emotions.
Frida Baranek’s trajectory is punctuated by her constant displacements — a voluntary poetic diaspora that led her to leave Brazil to study in the United States, to return here, to move to Europe (Paris and then Berlin) and, finally, to settle in New York. Intentionally displaced — or belonging in part to all these places at once — she sought in sculpture a counterpoint to movement. Since the 1980s, weight and a raw materiality have been the recurrent elements of her work, a temporary way of taking root, given the contingency of movement.
The relationship to space is the essence of three-dimensional thinking in Frida Baranek’s creative expression. Simultaneously, the material, the matter, imposes itself through its aggressiveness visible at first impact. Catastrophist by the use of an industrialized society’s connotative elements, the character of deconstructivist “assemblage” presides over her vital installations, significant in their spatiality: stone (granite or marble), iron plates, flexibles and oxidized wires compound her vocabulary in a vehement speech, apparently purely intuitive.
What immediately struck me about the sculptures of Frida Baranek was how they both command and cede to their materiality. Her control of her media never feels controlling. Instead there is a palpable release into the physicality of whatever materials she uses, which have been many. They have included iron plate, bronze and iron wire, iron chains, powdered pigment, sisal, silk, deflating and disintegrating latex balloons, fragments of airplanes, and marble in blocks, shards, and pebbles.
Frida Baranek’s works up to this point may be summarized as working within the Wittgensteinian conception of knowledge as thread. Her combinations of different materialities formed an organic whole whose strength lay in the assimilation of differences. The physical presence of her work did not stem from a single and coherent unit of material, but from a double disintegration: first, the whole was disintegrated by the alchimistic mix of several materials, then each of those materials was itself profoundly disintegrated.
In her background, along with Tunga an João Carlos Goldberg, Frida Baranek traces her genealogy and defines her option. It is in this vast picture of the recent history of Brazil that Frida Baranek’s work must be measured. Generally speaking, contemporary sculpture “at this moment, vagrant and erratic, out of center and uncertain, seems to experiment for the first time, its absence of space, its virtual opening for all spaces.” (Paulo Venâncio Filho).
Frida Baranek’s most recent large-scale abstract metal sculptures are all about dichotomies between nature and culture, organicism and artificiality, technology and femininity. Materially, procedurally and metaphorically they wrestle with these ingrained paradoxes and bring them towards resolutions which, in a larger sense, pose questions about gendered nature of cultural production.
Frida Baranek chooses most of her materials for their pertinence to the industrial world. Iron sheets, iron and steel shafts, iron or steel wires are submitted to the ordeal of doing. Hence the objects proposed to the eye are neither small nor monumental, but at best over-scaled in relation to the body.
As they are more often exhibited outdoors before their use, they lose their primary appearance. Maybe that is why some sculptures possess the strange beauty of industrial wrecks.
No drawing, no previous study precedes work and each sculpture, without ever being its demonstration, reveals a possible metamorphosis of the material up to its limit point.
The relationship to space is the essence of three-dimensional thinking in Frida Baranek’s creative expression. Simultaneously, the material, the matter, imposes itself through its aggressiveness visible at first impact. Catastrophist by the use of an industrialized society’s connotative elements, the character of deconstructivist “assemblage” presides over her vital installations, significant in their spatiality: stone (granite or marble), iron plates, flexibles and oxidized wires compound her vocabulary in a vehement speech, apparently purely intuitive. The artist respects the material, which is perceptible in the implicit acceptance of its prior condition. As a consequence, time becomes present, in its untouched mark on the few selected materials, parallel to her concern with space. This young artist, in the dawn of the nineties, joins other Brazilians artists of the some lineage, as can be stated by Nuno Ramos’ and Karen Lambrecht’s present proposals.