Equivalence and imbalance

 “The perceived neutrality of Minimalist objects might also be explained, however, by the fact that the qualities or values they exemplify – unfeelingness and a will to control or dominate – are transparent by virtue of their very ubiquity. With closer scrutiny, in short, the blank face of Minimalism may come into focus as the face of capital, the face of authority, the face of the father.”
Anna C. Chave, Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power, in Arts Magazine, vol. 64, no. 5, January 1990


Equivalence and imbalance is Marcelo Cidade’s (São Paulo, Brazil, 1979) third exhibition at the gallery. It features an unique series of sculptures that combine elements of the so-called hostile architecture with references to the series Equivalents (1966), by the minimalist artist Carl Andre. The dialogue between the two artists is established not only by the formal expressiveness of the sculptures which integrate the series, but also by the exhibition model they adopt.

Andre’s series is composed by 8 sculptures , each with 120 cement tiles. Despite having different formats between them, they share the same weight, the same volume and the same height. The formal nature of these objects, added to the organization of the exhibition proposed by the artist, conditions the experience beyond vision, participating in the very constitution of the space, challenging the viewer and restraining his/her relation with the place.

In Cidade’s series, the pieces are constituted by rectangular cement modules, similar to Andre’s volumes, but now studded with pointed stones that cover the entire surface of the works, giving them a more rough and aggressive tone – less balanced-, thus making an allusion to the urban design objects used to prevent the occupation of specific places. These objects are increasingly present in large urban centres, especially in the most populous ones, such as São Paulo, where the artist lives. The places now “forbidden” are, in their origin and by definition, public places, hence at the disposal of any citizen. However, we witness today the reconfiguration of these places through the use of stones, railings, ramps or sharp metals, which crosses them out from the public under the banner of “maintaining order”, driven by the expectation of erradicating “more deviant” social behaviors. With regard to this conditioning, Cidade extends the dialogue with Andre and provokes the constraint of the gallery space, challenging the viewer from the moment of entering and imposing significant deviations to the movements within the room.

It is also worth mentioning that, by associating the aesthetic of urban hostility to its serial system of sculptures, Cidade seeks to neutralize the authoritarian discourse, of capitalist nature, manifested in the code suggested by his sculptures, while articulating them at the same time with the concepts and minimalist aspects of the works, which adds to the reading of the political, social and emotional issues that guide our life today, redirecting our attention on them.


Maria Joana Vilela