Cristina Bahiense

Guilherme Bueno

Cristina Bahiense - INVERTED SIGNALS  [CCJF, 2011]

The principal subject of the first debate on the transition from a modern condition to a contemporary one was the cancellation of what is known as the specialization of a given medium’s “field of competency” – that is to say, its ability to self-define according to its material constitution. Nowadays we know only too well that the aforementioned boundary is considerably more blurred than such a statement might lead us to believe. Nonetheless, it is still of interest because it promoted An important harvest of works dedicated to founding a new model of malleable space that would engage the spectator in other ways – ways in which perception would not be grounded in a mechanistic understanding of the body (roughly speaking: painting is for the eyes, sculpture and architecture for the body, music for the ears, and so forth).

Why bring this up with regard to the works by Cristina Bahiense currently on exhibition at the Centro Cultural da Justiça Federal? One thing must be emphasized immediately: the artist’s works discuss the possibility of a contemporary tradition. They are based on a model of space that might be described as wholly contemporary, or, to put it another way, no longer inscribed within the modern/postmodern debate as a phenomenon of the present guided by living controversy rather than one that manifests itself (when it does manifest itself), in its existence today as an established historical fact.
Because of this, Cristina works out the following problem: she submits painting, drawing and sculpture to spaces and media that are not their own, nevertheless encouraging them not to desist from uttering themselves as such rather than proclaiming themselves as another language. In itself, there is neither quality nor previous error to deciding in favor of inventing or insisting upon a “category”; what is important is to note how such a decision also imposes itself as a formal action, the nature of which does not belong to the order of plasticity (formalist, for example), but of investigating the field of reflections whence the works emerge – a discussion of the idea of expanded painting, for example; or even of how it behaves within this model of space that emerged as a result of its questioning.

Such situations are patent in these works. Whereas, at first sight, one becomes aware of drawing’s outward movement from the tangle of lines upon the plane into space, were we to use a metaphor, this would be like a drop frozen in the interval between paint falling from a bucket and its accommodation upon the surface of the canvas. The artist “flattens” this volume yet again by virtually compressing it against the plane of the sculptural metal bars that are alternately parallel or orthogonally sectioned. A second case introduces the opposite procedure: twisted ribbons made by the artist out of cienfoil create sculptures, “establishing” themselves as photographic images, existing as two-dimensional sculptures, the volume of which is measured by the dislocation of the camera’s point of view – an exciting transformation, given that it confronts literal spatiality (the support proper) and the image (the photographed object that only exists as such).

Gathered together in a one room, by virtue of artfully managed inversions, the two groups of works determine a special tension, as they (begging pardon for use of the neologism) “de-literalize” both the spatial nature of each one of these languages in themselves and that of the exhibition space proper, given that its previous coordinates – its deep-seated logic – has been submitted to another (dis)order of things, as if, suddenly, the mirrored space had suspended its coordinates and become eht egami fo flesti.

Guilherme Bueno