35th Bienal de São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec 2023
Free Admission
35th Bienal de
São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec
Exhibition view of the work A água é uma máquina do tempo [Water is a Time Machine], by Aline Motta during the 35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible © Levi Fanan / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Aline Motta

Aline Motta marshals the material of history to make meaning. By turns poet and filmmaker, photographer and performance artist, hers is a speculative practice. Building and bending worlds through the process of annotation and redaction, she speaks into the silence of archival oblivion in order to make visible the unfamiliar and unknown. Beyond the frame of imperial fecundity, lie the intimate narratives she unravels. The forging of Brazilian colonial history has fractured, bleached, burdened her familial lines, which she retraces – following the tug of an umbilical cord, which births her mother, then her grandmother. Across image and text, her epic work A água é uma máquina do tempo [Water is a Time Machine] asks, “might it be possible to fabulate new kinship ties, new lineages, and even new forms of filiation?¹

From cradle to grave, womb to tomb,² Motta moves meticulously through her own family’s traces. All the while, she examines the matriarchal force which makes all possible. Seas of pages, lines of ink, pools of blood – all are engulfed in the spiral of time, illuminated through the forms of care that Motta positions at the beating heart of her artistic practice. Yet these gestures are not easy, nor do they configure normative significations of love or femininity. Rather, they are bruised and battered, insistently blackened forms of support. Indeed, as theorist in African American studies Saidiya Hartman argues, these very “forms of care, intimacy, and sustenance exploited by racial capitalism, most importantly, are not reducible to or exhausted by it…This care, which is coerced and freely given, is the black heart of our social poiesis, of making and relation.”³

oluremi onabanjo

1. Aline Motta. 2021. “A água é uma máquina do tempo.” eLyra: Poesia e Arquivo, n. 18, p. 333-337, 2021. (Depoimentos). Available at elyra.org. Accessed in 28 May 2023. Translation mine.
2. Here I invoke Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016, p. 87.
3. Saidiya Hartman, “The Belly of the World: A Note on Black Women’s Labors,” Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, 2016, 18 ¹: p. 171.

Aline Motta (Niterói, RJ, Brazil, 1974. Lives in São Paulo, Brazil) works with photography, video, installation, performance, and collage. She has presented solo exhibitions at MAR (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and Sesc Belenzinho (São Paulo, Brazil). Her works have been featured in exhibitions at venues such as MASP, Tomie Ohtake (São Paulo, Brazil) and Centro Cultural Kirchner (Buenos Aires, Argentina). Her videos were exhibited at the New Museum (New York, USA). She has published the book A água é uma máquina do tempo (2022).