CAP4 - Aline Motta - (Other) Foundations



Aline Motta - (Other) Foundations #1.jpg

Contemporary art has made memory a recurring topic (topos). In Spanish, memoria (memory) is connected to recuerdo (remembrance), from the Latin re, “again,” and cordis, “heart”: go back again through the heart, through the emotions. It is the past that becomes present when we summon it, that reoccurs from the meditative distance that comes from knowing an event happened, but that we need to feel again. A past without closure. The references and underlying meanings of the images unfold when they are investigated from the present. And the investigation of the archives can be urgent, summoning the violence exerted against bodies at different times in history (annihilation, exploitation, slavery). These archives can also be repositories of taste, part of the consumption of a recent past whose consequences intensify in the exhausted state of the world.

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

In (Outros) Fundamentos (Other [Foundations]), Aline Motta brings together the visual archive she made in Nigeria with a documentary archive of the experience of slavery in Brazil. The alienation she experienced on her trip interrupted her sense of belonging. It replicated the distance, the disruption, and the wound that slavery inflicted on the Brazilian social and political experience. Rio de Janeiro’s first reported Covid-19 fatality was that of a domestic worker infected by her employer, a resident of Leblon who, upon returning from a holiday in Italy, would not pay the woman who cleaned her house while in quarantine. In Brazil, there is an unofficial, social, and political apartheid. It is the poorest members of society, black and indigenous women and men, who are experiencing the highest death rates from the pandemic.


Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

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(Outros) Fundamentos is the third video of a trilogy that began a few years ago. It was part of research I was doing about my own family, about my roots. This investigation had four parts. I called the first “My Father.” I traveled with my father from Rio de Janeiro to Minas Gerais. I called part two “My Mom”— my dad is white, my mom is black. I went to a rural area of the state of Rio de Janeiro, an area of coffee plantations. I called part three “The Other,” and I went to Portugal, and called part four “Origin.” I went to Sierra Leone, and a few months later to Nigeria. This video, which is the last one, talks about my experiences in Nigeria. I was in Lagos for thirty-two days, it was very intense, very powerful, and the video tries to talk about when you feel like a foreigner in Brazil, and also about when you try to return to something that may no longer be there. With the diaspora, one tries to hold on in order to resist, you try to grasp a language, a culture, but things change; it is not the Nigeria of two hundred years ago. How is one going to face the challenge of communicating again? And my strategy was to communicate via water. If water has memory, if I can invoke water, what could it tell me? In Nigeria, this city is called Lagos, which is a word in Portuguese [meaning lakes], they gave it to them. Rio in Rio de Janeiro is the river, and in Bahia [bay] I went to this city called Cachoeira, waterfall. Three cities where there is water and that are named after the water. How could I reestablish this communication, which seeks to transcend, to communicate on another level?


Aline Motta, Rethink Everything, Talk #2, June 13, 2020.

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Cristina Piffer returned to the photographic archives of the Museo de La Plata to reactivate the photographs taken by Robert Lehmann-Nitsche –German physician and ethnologist– and Carlos Bruch –anthropologist- in 1906. She used the wet-collodion process, developing images with silver on glass. In Braceros, the portraits come from archives of oppression: indigenous Chiriguanos, Chorotes, Matacos, and Tobas, who were taken as prisoners in the military outpost of Gran Chaco, locked up, separated from their families, and forced to work in extreme conditions. As we watch in astonishment as the media documents the demonstrations against racist murders, these archives about those who founded the Argentine “republic” cease to belong only to the past. They point toward the pockets of poverty in the villas miserias, or slums, of Greater Buenos Aires where the pandemic is currently concentrated. At times, the images lack clarity. The printing process inscribes them in ambiguous territory, of impulses and instincts, that intensifies the relationship between an archive of the past—made visible—and its echoes that can be recognized in the present.

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.


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I feel that in order to understand the present one must understand the past, and not as something dead and gone, but rather as something that repeats itself ... The Shooting of Dorrego, the Conquest of the Desert, the Tragic Week, the Trelew Massacre, the Military Dictatorship ... you see, these events are all linked. Every once in a while, the state strikes a blow to maintain the status quo. The cruelty of the whole situation scares me. I’m working on a series of portraits of indigenous leaders who were held prisoner at the Museo de La Plata natural history museum. I was unaware of that story ... and because the story was covered up, it took me a long time to get any information. It was Mario Rufer’s reflection on a particular event that for me was a revelation: at the handover of ex ESMA to human rights organizations, a group of indigenous people showed up demanding the inclusion of the original habitants in the story told about this site of memory ... State terrorism cannot be under- stood without looking at the indigenous genocide. An unfinished genocide ... As a starting point in the Braceros series, I use German anthropologist Robert Lehmann-Nitsche’s photographic records taken at the La Esperanza sugar mill, Jujuy province, in 1906. The development of sugar mills was linked to the military occupation of the Gran Chaco and these new ventures had at their disposal the indigenous population’s cheap “arms” as well as vast areas of land expropriated from that same population. The records in this series challenge the founding myth of white Argentina: projecting a country without Indians, without mixed races, without blacks. The Argentine State promoted a whitening of geographic regions and a cleansing of pre-existing populations.
Using a photographic procedure from the late nineteenth century, I develop the archival images in metallic silver on glass. The metallic silver evokes in its materiality the colonial imaginary, expressed in the successive denominations of the territory—the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and finally the Confederation, the nation and the Argentine Republic—the names of which are latinized.

Cristina Piffer, interviewed by María José Tagliavini, “La artista de las vísceras,” A propósito de (blog), August 10, 2015 (revised by the artist, February 23, 2021).


[...] At Inventory (2018), Piffer transcribes with fat using the technic of serigraphy on paper, data taken from the registry of indigenous human remains that integrate the Catalogue of the Anthropological Section of La Plata Museum, compiled in 1911 by the German physician and ethnologist Robert Lehmann-Nitsche. The Mapuche lonko Inacayal, one of the last indigenous chiefs to resist Roca’smilitary advance on Patagonia, was taken prisoner in 1885 by the Army and later assigned, along with eleven other people, to the Museum of La Plata, by management of his first director, the expert Francisco P. Moreno. There, they were locked up and forced to work as ordinances and pawns. After his death in 1887, the body of Inacayal was dissected and exhibited in the museum. [...]



Fernando Davis

Extract from the curatorial text Cristina Piffer. Argento. Buenos Aires, 2018.


In 1992, Marcos López photographed Elba Bairon. It is a portrait taken in black and white, with Elba posing artificially, surrounded by flowers, which was then delicately colored. In this way he introduces references to the history of the photographic portrait and its popular formats. These elements would become more exaggerated in his photography in the 1990s, giving rise to what became known as pop latino, or Latin pop. Also found here are references to popular taste, the cheap, colorful objects that run through the works of many artists of the 1990s (from Cristina Schiavi and León Ferrari to Marcelo Pombo, Jorge Gumier Maier, Liliana Maresca, and Fernanda Laguna).

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.


We took the portrait in 1992, in the studio that we shared with the photographer RES, on Avenida Caseros right off the corner with Bolívar, where he currently lives. I bought a lot of flowers and plants and asked Liliana Maresca to help us with the session.
Liliana acted as a kind of makeup artist, hairdresser, and art director.
We actually did everything between the three of us. There were no assistants. It was just Elba, Liliana, and me.
Liliana helped me arrange the flowers on Elba’s head and the plants to cover her body.
Notably, Elba brought something to play music on, boleros and other types of romantic music.
I shot just one or two twelve-frame 6 × 6 rolls of black-and-white film.
At that time I colored some prints with transparent inks, like those used by photographers in the 1940s and 1950s. I did the printing and coloring myself.

Marcos López, Note by the artist, Buenos Aires, March 2020.



Cristina Piffer (b. 1953). Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is an artist and an architect. She graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Buenos Aires in 1976. Since 1994, she has participated in numerous group exhibitions. In 1997, she received the 4th Acquisition Prize at the II Bahía Blanca Art Biennial, based at the Museum of Contemporary Art, for a work made up of two pieces of beef formed in polyester resin. Since these first works, Piffer’s work has been addressing the theme of political violence in Argentine history since the nineteenth century, through the investigation of diverse materialities and the survey of historical and literary sources. She lives and works in Buenos Aires.

Aline Motta (b. 1974). Niteroí, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

She obtained a Bachelor of Communication Studies from the Universidad Federal de Río de Janeiro and a Certificate in Film Production from the New School University (NY). Her work combine photography, video, installation, performance, sound art, collage and textile materials. She received the Rumos Itaú Cultural scholarship (2015/2016) and the Marcantonio Vilaça Award for the Arts (2019), among others. She participated in exhibitions such as Historias Feministas, artistas después de 2000 (MASP), Afro-Atlantic Histories (MASP) and The River of the Navigators (MAR). Recently opened her solo exhibition Aline Motta: memory, travel and water at the Museu de Arte do Rio (2020). She lives and works in São Paulo.

Elba Bairon (b. 1947). La Paz, Bolivia. In 1967 she settled in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

She has lived and worked in Buenos Aires since 1967. She studied drawing, Chinese painting, engraving, and lithography, and in the 1990s, she began to work on sculptural pieces presented in installations. Her work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions at Centro Cultural Rojas, National Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Argentina); Art Basel (Switzerland); ARCO (Spain); Cándido Méndez Cultural Center (Brazil); Sculpture Park Museum (Chile); and Nube Gallery (Bolivia). She participated in the 33 Bienal de São Paulo (Brazil). In 2012, she received the New Supports and Installation Grand Prize of the National Hall (Argentina) and the first Federico J. Klemm Prize for Visual Arts (Argentina).

Marcos López (b. 1958). Santa Fe, Argentina.

Photographer and visual artist. He has received numerous awards and distinctions and his work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, including Pop Latino / Surrealismo criollo, Instituto Cervantes (Italy, 2014); Ser Nacional, CCK (Buenos Aires, 2016); Photography at its Limits, Houston Center of Photography (USA, 2019); Pause déjeuner, Bouches-du-Rhône Library (Marseille, France, 2019). He has edited numerous publications. His photographs are part of the collections of the Reina Sofía National Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castilla y León (Spain), the Daros-Latinamerica Foundation (Switzerland), Quai Branly (France), among others. He lives and works in Buenos Aires.

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