Complementary technical description

participation - Marília

collaboration - Fred Pessoa, Martin Heimann, D. Russel and Rosie Hae Kim

Presentation text 2001


Survival and First Aid manuals, with their schematic recommendations aimed at preserving both life and body, inspire the work of Alexandre da Cunha, who presents the performance Coverman. As with his other work, the body plays a central role in his performance: its fragility, the vulnerability that, sometimes, forces us to seek mending and manipulation. Coverman takes place when an invited co-participant accepts to take part in the performance, which consists of a sequence of movements referring to body cure and treatment procedures. It is up to each participant and spectator to draw their own associations that, often, result in linear paths, as in a narrative: massages, cure rituals, or even an autopsy can be in the ideas involved. Nobody is induced into a single and determined reading: the actions only suggest events in which the body, centre of attention, is assisted. In some of his works, the involvement can also be physical as well as literal, as when a body is wrapped. Alexandre da Cunha was born in 1969 in Rio de Janeiro, and today is London-based, represented in Brazil by Galeria Luiza Strina. He reminds us that, without the use of a predetermined script, the performance allows spectators to imagine narratives, attributing characters to the participants. In allowing the artist to physically interact with his or her body, the participant establishes an immediate trust relationship, but, at the same time, one of tension: the body is, after all, a kind of key-border to most people. Maybe this is why Alexandre da Cunha has already been considered a follower of relational art proposed by Lygia Clark. Alexandre da Cunha’s performances are recorded in video and in polaroids. Initially thought as records of a determined moment allowing fresh readings on the event, they have gained the status of autonomous works that can be presented independently. In his progression, the artist has always had the body as a central object and concern: the body and the interaction of the performer’s bodies. “The performances open other directions in the body of work, allowing the experimentation of different combinations of media, exploring the dialogue between performer and object”, states the artist. In more recent works such as Stretcher (2000), Alexandre has been using discarded objects like brushes and clothes. He invents new objects that, nevertheless, seem to have disposal as fate: “The original idea of throwing something away is linked to the experiences of melancholia and frustration. My task is to transform rubbish into functional objects. But, inevitably, these inventions seem to be useless and, maybe, not even desirable. With discarded objects he creates a narrative speaking of the subsequent loss of the object, initially by the fact that it has indeed been discarded, after being imprisoned in its own dis(functionality)”. In a work done this year, Shelter, Alexandre da Cunha also incorporates an investigation about the memory of the body. Traces of his own body in temporary accommodation. The proposal is to build bigger pieces such as tents, using blankets, sleeping bags and second-hand furniture.

ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL VIDEOBRASIL, " 13º Festival Internacional de Arte Eletrônica Videobrasil" [13th Videobrasil International Electronic Art Festival]:19 to 23 September 2001, pp. 200-201, São Paulo, SP, 2001.