A Constructor of Landscapes,
On April 22, 2019, at 7:21 a.m., Mmiriam gomperts Gomperts wrote [sic]:
I am seated on a pines trunk in the forest.
The smell of pines always recalls strawberries to me. A white butterfly is a yellow one: never
resting. Painting the air with small flying points.
Kisses and strong hugs and with much love.
Marcelo Moscheta is a constructor of landscapes. As an artist he is a pollinator of the world. Art must allow for contemplation, otherwise it is not art. For their part, artists like Moscheta have the responsibility to transform our way or manner of seeing the world, for its good and its existence. Art should provoke in us wonder, thought, distrust and, also, a sense of estrangement. As though it were a scale model of the world where we could reflect, feel and question everything. What is our place in the universe? What is our place in the landscape of the world? Where will we go from here?
Miriam is Dutch, a physician and an artist. As a physician she has a limitation for writing in Portuguese, but even with this limitation, as an artist she brings poetic beauty to what she describes, as in the epigraph to this text. She somehow constructs an idyllic landscape before her, that only she sees. It sounds like a short, badly written poem to our ears if we read it out loud. But it perfectly describes, even with the errors, the moment of contemplation, through twisted-sounding words, inebriated by the air painted by the butterflies. It was what she saw, heard and felt with the smells around her. It is also what one feels upon reading her words.
Unlike Miriam and Marcelo Moscheta – the latter of whom created the inner landscape for the Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro Museu e Campo which I will comment on below – the men who call themselves civilized are eaters of the world’s landscape. They should be only like the bees, the butterflies, the birds and the insects, the pollinators of the landscape. But no, these men chose to devour the existing landscapes that shelter us. We all come from the same material, we all come from Mother Earth, from the Mother Forest. Journalist Ailton Krenak, an indigenous spiritual leader (in Ciclo de Estudos Selvagem, 2019), talks about man’s desire to manage the world’s landscape (the oceans, the forests, the mountains) and points to this desire of man to devour the landscape before getting to know it. It is a utilitarian outlook of men (of the male gender and white) on the system of life. A totalitarian and distorted way of thinking, which considers that the world should be utilitarian. Art is like a gap in which the botanists, scientists and artists operate as facilitators of these marvelous beings, it is where they observe this natural existence threatened by the destruction of the values of that system of knowledge. Plants that are teachers, plants that instruct us, and intelligent plant beings. The forest, the trees and their leaves are the world of meanings, of senses, and of the very wonder of life.
“The Enchantment” (Ciclo de Estudos Selvagem, 2018) by Moisés Piyãko, another Ashaninka spiritual leader, told the oral history of his people, the Ashaninka. For their spiritual world, this book is the universe and the creation of the planet; it is the world we have to tell about and the world that we do not see. The world of “Encanto” is the energy that rules the world, which is what rules the entire universe. Inkiété – the infinite – is nothing else than our thought, our ability to imagine. For that people, the key to understanding is in the forest vine and in the leaves that were called by the creator spirit to bring its people to the “enchanted” world, the cycle of life. That of a tree, for example, needs to be guaranteed to fully exist, as it is part of the earth’s life cycle. The leaf that falls, dries out and turns back into dust, into particles, is part of the system of organisms and energies that rule life.
Art also has this power to transport us in time and to make us observe small situations and things that go unperceived by a gaze that is not used to wandering. The invention of nature is a way to contemplate this world and allow our outlook on it to wander. Strangeness can arise from these simple situations brought about by the art of contemplation that we find in the most commonplace gestures and actions, of nature and of the creation of artists. The artists have the responsibility to change our way of seeing. This is what Marcelo Moscheta does, with honesty and with mimetic intensity through leaves made of clay, copies of real ones and dried by time. These leaves are prints, they are “copied” leaves made by the thousands, using molds made from leaves and branches gathered from trees that shade the Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro Museu e Campo. They are the very long history of the old textile factory that so much stirs our memory when we enter it, the memory of a past time in the city of Itu.
Interested in observing nature, archaeology and the architecture of cities, Marcelo Moscheta treats on landscape as the main genre of his work.
There is no way to avoid what is evoked by this work that simulates nature. There is no escape from this desolate landscape that the artist presents to us in one of the rooms of FAMA Museu e Campo. It is a tough task to think about the natural cycle of life and death and perhaps this is not even the artist’s intention, when he creates his work. But once it is created, the artwork takes on a life of its own – just as we do when, upon being born, we take up our life ahead, and like with everything in nature, there is no way of escaping from a final destiny, existence.
We are only part of a cycle of life and death. For each and every one of us there is an evident cycle that is often imperceptible but always implacable in the passage of time, since the transformations occur so slowly. But there is a reason for everything, in what touches on the duration of time. Everything has a meaning, which is not always what the artist intended to make or to propose by the artwork. Many do want to cause discomfort, some only want to bring something beautiful, pleasing to the eye, while others want to propose the materialization of a thought that makes us reflect. There are those who do not want any of this. There are others who want all of it.
One must therefore respect the meaning of the creation. But there are works that escape from all of this and in fact instill in us this feeling of contemplation. That of reflecting even when it makes us feel strange or uneasy when we know that it concerns the vital cycle, of living and dying. Because the contemporary human being who thinks he is immortal avoids the discomfort caused by confrontation, even while knowing that everything in nature is in flux, “flying” like the butterflies that paint the air in the initial poem.
Life and death is the meaning of the world’s transformation. We are parts of a cycle of nature’s renewal and constant transformation. A sprouted leaf grows, becomes green, and functions to oxygenate the world; it then dies, dries out and transforms into a substance that re-nourishes nature, and sprouts once again. And this is how the cycle rebegins, eternally, if we do not interrupt it.
The organic material, like everything on the face of the Earth, is transformed into earth and will feed itself and transform into trees or animals and every sort of life. Into all living beings, including those who believe they are immortal and are not part of this natural cycle. This thought of immortality does not make the least sense. Life and death, clearly, are inexorable to the terrestrial condition.
This is stated for us to understand the sense of estrangement and contradiction of beauty proposed by the work of Marcelo Moscheta. It provokes and forces us to think about the cycle that rules the world, rules the universe. Being born, living, dying, sprouting, flowering, drying and becoming muddy sediment that feeds back again into nature.
There is a fascination in his work for understanding “the world’s engine,” as writer Ítalo Calvino would say. It is not by accident, therefore, that territories, just like collections, are the archaeology of the world, which by exploring – by understanding – are part of his artistic outlook. Moscheta narrates in a poetic way what he found on the floor of the old São Pedro textile factory, with determination and the desire to discover and conquest the memory of the place, of the people who passed through there for many days of their lives. As uncountable as the dry leaves that are spread and piled on the floor.
Moscheta, from the interior of the state of São Paulo, produces work that always urges us to see the world through an outlook informed by a system of classification of things, including the most banal objects like the leaves that fall from trees, which is mimicked by the gesture of amassing clay leaves dried by time. Made of paper clay, a mixture of clay with cellulose fiber, which lends them a uniform materiality and plasticity, with flexibility, thus conferring them malleability and integrity. They become fragile, archaeological objects. At the limit of temporality, they lie at the border of the thread that makes life and is perpetuated in this pile of dry clay leaves. In the same way as the archaeological objects, fragile like life, this is a melancholic and afflictive work, precisely because it speaks of life and because it talks about life at the end, like the leaf that falls from a tree that dries in time.
In the first months of this year, the artist set up an unconventional studio in one of the museum’s sheds. He made another factory within the old factory, where a team of young artists came to make this initiative a participative work and to create there a serial production of these prints in clay, of leaves and branches collected from the floor of the old factory.
The leaves are the matrices, the mothers of all the other leaves printed in clay, molded and catalogued. They result in a myriad of other “dead” leaves like scraps, a jumble of lifeless bodies. In the studio, and then in the exhibition room, he created the idea of an archaeological environment.
For Moscheta, this simply concerns a desire of the artist, experienced in his childhood, of organizing the things and understanding the world. In his own definition, “the artist is someone who sets out to rename the things and the relationships that exist around us, following other criteria besides those preestablished by nature and culture.” He offers the observer the power to inhabit his invented landscape, following his or her own presence and imagination, re-creating and simulating with the institution’s collection.
He gathered the leaves and branches fallen from trees that shaded the Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro, as though organizing a catalog, as though he also wanted, in an archaeological process, to record the plant life of the place, an old textile factory, abandoned by time, which is now undergoing a revitalization.
In a way, he talks about memory, the marking of time in the seasons of the year. Leaves fall abundantly in the autumn. They fall, they dry, the trees become bare, winter comes and the sun’s rays pass more easily through the branches. They then get green again in the spring to provide shade in the summer. They fall another time, they disappear, to let the sun’s rays once again pass through what is left of the trees, which just a while ago in the spring and summer were leafy.
Silence hovers over this installation by Moscheta, although time does not. But silence is heard when the infinitely living is wanted. “Silence is the teacher of life,” continues the indigenous leader with his words that resonate in this landscape constructed by Marcelo Moscheta.
Note: I assume that the idea is that “O Encanto” is one of the works in the Ciclo de Estudos Selvagem. In this case, the proper placement of the reference is like this, in English.
If there is any question, let me know.
Fabrica de Arte Marcos Amaro
Museu e Campo