IOLE DE FREITAS, 1970S / IMAGE AS PRESENCE
This exhibition brings together works of art created by Iole de Freitas more than five decades ago, some of them rarely exhibited, and many of them known only to a select circle of fans. It is the first time that such an extensive and representative body of work from this foundational period in Iole's career is being presented. Although the photos, films, and installations in this exhibition may surprise the public who has been accustomed to associating the artist with the field of sculpture since the 1980s, these are works that already announced characteristics that would emerge in one way or another in everything she produced thereafter – although, unlike the sculptures, the pieces on display are made of something as imponderable and elusive as the luminous matter of images.
Perhaps the main characteristic of these works is their obstinacy in scrutinizing the body's plasticity, the fascinating capacity of our bodies to transform space according to whether they engage with it or offer resistance to it. The cinematic and photographic images that stemmed from Iole's first forays amplify this characteristic, which does not fail to manifest itself – albeit in different ways – in the sculptures and installations that the artist creates to this day. Although the exhibition specifically refocuses on the work produced in the 1970s, it eschews historiographical ambitions. Rather, it is concerned with urging the past to make a statement about the present, and this past could only be illuminated when confronted with the authenticity and poignancy with which Iole's current work is able to interpellate it.
A constellation of works, including three reconstituted installations, has been achieved, and, under assessment, it can clearly and straightforwardly contextualize the environment of ideas in which the work's lines of force had sprouted. The fact that the show consists of a set of photographs and films – considered "new media" at the time – is certainly linked to the great interest that these media's heterodox uses (along with video) aroused among young artists prompted by the crisis that called into question Western cultural tradition's great canons.
Like Iole, they sought to liberate themselves from museum walls, to immerse themselves in a phenomenological space, to test the aesthetic and political powers that could stem from a technological apparatus of image production, portable and easy to handle, ready to seal the liquidation of a reified artistic object. Interacting with the artist over the nearly 12 months that preceded this exhibition, we learned that despite the pieces having been conceived more than half a century ago, their reassembly in a new context had a surprising result. The entire exhibition has revealed itself, in fact, as Iole's most recent work: a kind of large installation that speaks eloquently to and about the present.