“An invisible and tonic thread
Patiently weaves the net
Of our millenary resistance.”
– conceição evaristo¹
Materials ask from the artist that they be given another life. She then sews, twists, covers, ties, and transforms scraps, fabrics, threads, and wires into sculptural objects. Following this, the artist invites the viewer to move around, to see her creations with their bodies.
It is impossible to appreciate the work of Sonia Gomes with one’s eyes alone. Her creations invite us to move from a passive position to that of an engaged spectator, who moves, bends, tilts their body, raises their head, gyrates, in a dance with the object, in order to perceive it from another angle, to discover and pay attention to the detail that is hidden in the next torsion, on the other side, down here or up there.
Her works are not figurative, and yet themes such as race, gender, and temporalities emerge in the various critical readings of her artistic work. What are the stories, the memories, the affections stored in the fabrics and cloths used by Sonia Gomes? What are the origins of the materials and what paths will they still follow after this exhibition? From the time when these objects still had a utilitarian function – the wedding dress, party blouse, school uniform, tablecloth, protective cover, linen pants, etc. – to a new time in which, tied, twisted, frayed, and sewn, they become sculptural objects.
The 35th Bienal de São Paulo presents dozens of works by the Minas Gerais artist, forming a robust and representative body of her poetics and trajectory. Wall works, hanging pieces, rods, and some pieces from the Torção [Torsion] series – Gomes’ trademark – will comprise the space. As such, the condensed, tonic time and entangled memories of the millenary resistance of black women takes shape and manifests itself in the choreographies of the impossible.
juliana de arruda sampaio
translated from Portuguese by philip somervell
Sonia Gomes (1948, Caetanópolis, MG, Brazil. Lives in São Paulo, Brazil) gathers fabrics, clothing and adornments to create textile sculptures that, through line, torsion and tension, create species of affective drawings in relation to the space around them. Gomes had her work exhibited at MASP (Brazil), Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói (Brazil), Solomon R Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA), 11th Liverpool Biennial (UK), 13th Gwangju Biennale (South Korea) and the 56th Venice Biennale (Italy). Her work is present in permanent collections of Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), Malba (Buenos Aires, Argentina), MASP (São Paulo, Brazil), Museo Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain), National Gallery of DC (Washington DC, USA) and Tate Modern (London, UK).
1. Conceição Evaristo, “A noite não adormece nos olhos das mulheres”, in Cadernos negros, vol 19, org. Márcio Barbosa, Sônia Fátima Conceição & Esmeralda Ribeiro. São Paulo: Quilombhoje; Ed. Anita, 1996.