I sat down with renowned artist Laura Lima, on the opening day of The Inverse at ICA Miami, her first solo museum show in the US. As I walk in, I am in awe with the scale of her work. The artwork is installed in the atrium gallery, which she intervened its gridded architecture with nearly a mile of dark blue rope. We seat together in a tucked corner surrounded by the artwork.
Laura Lima (b. 1971) has had works exhibited at the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art, Zurich; Performa 15, New York; Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires; Casa França Brasil, Rio de Janeiro; and Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Her work has been also included in major group exhibitions as the 2011 Lyon Biennale; 14 Rooms, Fondation Beyeler, Basel; and the 1998 and 2006 São Paulo Biennial.
With only a few hours until the opening of her show, we get right to it so Laura can get some rest before the reception. The exhibition is on view at ICA Miami until October 30th, 2016.
Your artwork has been shown around the world. Does this influence your art?
Yes but that is not a defining characteristic of my work. However, on a majority of my pieces, I use live beings so the people who become part of the work are from the place where I am at the moment. If I work with other live beings, like chickens for example, those will also be locals. My work is not created in response to the place I am in, I do not necessarily address its social or political landscape. The works are already created in my head. Coming in to a space like ICA Miami, I wanted to address the specificities of the architecture, which in this case was a very strong factor. At the core of The Inverse was a manipulation of the space and the way people move within it.
Tell me about the glossary you have created to define your art practice.
Materiality is a very strong topic specially when using people in my work. It does not fit the terminology and glossary of the art world that is performance art. Performance in broad terms has a visual construct that touches on many poetic layers and the subject of the artist – present in person. I have never been part of any of my pieces.
How do you define the separation between yourself and your artwork?
With The Inverse, I have been working with the girls that participate in it, and I always say that soon I will disappear. From 20 years ago when I started my practice, I realized that my work was meant to go beyond my own body. My work was not created to carry a reference to myself. My presence, my face and my identity are not a factor. I use the materialization of the body, not the construct of the subject. The materials used for an artwork are presented equally, without hierarchy, and all have their role in the construction of the image.
As an international artist, how do you see Brazilian art scene and its connection to your work?
It is evident that Brazil possess strength and internal structure. As in other countries in South America, there is extremely sophisticated art. I mean sophisticated in structure. It is complex especially with the difficulties of government and lack of access to education. Brazil was able to keep its identity by movements such as the São Paulo Biennial, Neoconcretism, Tropicalia, to name a few. This in all cultural levels, from visual arts to music. Both locally and internationally, there is a recognition of the conceptual background structure present. I don’t feel that Brazilian artists address only issues pertaining to Brazil as if they were a soldier of a Brazilian revolution. They are in tune with many things. I am constantly thinking outside of my own space.
How is a regular day for you in Brazil?
On any day, I am doing everything at once. I live in a villa in Rio de Janeiro, with my son and a 90 year old aunt. My day-to-day is mostly at home, taking care of my family, working, and creating, all of them mixed together. I am constantly being interrupted and handling five things at once. I am good multi-tasking and dealing with different things that need my attention. People say that there are times I seem not to be present but it’s because I have to turn off certain things in order to focus.
The Inverse by Laura Lima
June 3, 2016 – October 30, 2016