15 July 2022 to 8 January 2023
Edifici Meier

MACBA presents the first solo exhibition in Spain of Cinthia Marcelle (b. 1974, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; lives and works in São Paulo).

Over the past decade, Marcelle has become internationally known for her potent moving-image works and powerful large-scale installations. At the same time, her monumentally-scaled work has always been accompanied by the production of drawings, photographs, small objects and subtle forms of spatial intervention. Bringing together a body of work produced since in the early 2000s, the exhibition will emphasise Marcelle’s constant preoccupation with the dynamics of collectivity and the poetics of accumulation, multiplication and repetition. It will also bring into focus the distinct aesthetics of her work, including static long-takes, atmospheric mise-en-scènes, and the repeated use of materials and colours that speak of the specific contexts of production.

Marcelle’s moving-image works and large-scale installations are realised in collaboration with individuals from pre-existing groups or communities, including labourers, activist blocs, industrial workers, musicians and museum staff. Through a combination of collective action and its indirect representation, the work proposes new circuits by disorganising existing systems, and produces subtle associations with class, labour and hierarchy. Through drawing, and the production of more ‘home-made’ films, Marcelle also focuses attention on intimate forms of inter-subjective relation, including memory, collaboration, education, influence and love.

Marcelle’s first group of films, Unus Mundus (2004–05), documented the absurd, tender or confrontational consequences of a series of choreographed urban interventions. In Confronto (2005), a fire-juggler, entertaining drivers waiting at a busy intersection, fails to move aside when the lights change. Instead, he is steadily joined by more and more companions. Growing in number and blocking the traffic, their actions provoke a cacophony of car-horns. In this series, Marcelle seemed to be wilfully upsetting the social order that underpins everyday life. Since then, the existence of a ‘coefficient of chaos and anarchy’ within our dominant economic and political systems has grown ever closer to the surface. Recent works made in partnership with artist Tiago Mata Machado establish a perspective on political and economic crisis by focusing on collective behaviours in their most tensile state. The confrontations documented by the Divine Violence trilogy (2011–16) and Nau/Now (2017) are both staged and spontaneous, fictional and entirely true to life.

MACBA’s retrospective includes new iterations of Marcelle’s two most recent large-scale installations, A Morta (2019) and The Family in Disorder (2018). Both works relinquish authorial control in favour of collective decision-making. In a new and re-titled version of A Morta, Marcelle will create a temporary radio station broadcasting twenty-four hours a day within the space of the Museum. Within the installation, or online via the platform aarea.co, members of the public assume the role of characters in an existing play by selecting songs for live transmission. In the process, the play’s original dramaturgy is re-made to a rhythm of unexpected choices, interruptions and pauses.

In The Family in Disorder (2018), described by the artist as the representation of a ‘rupture’, the disorderly and collective process explored by Marcelle is revealed in the final form of this two-part installation. A group of participants are invited to ‘occupy the space’ with bulk quantities of the materials commonly used by Marcelle, including bolts of cloth, plastic sheets, wooden beams, bricks and chalk. The result undermines the sovereign power of the eponymous artist by erasing Marcelle’s signature style. Presented at MACBA in a new configuration, The Family in Disorder provides decisive punctuation for Marcelle’s first solo exhibition in Spain.

Isobel Whitelegg is an art historian, writer and curator, specialising in contemporary art from Latin America (especially Brazil) and its histories. In 2009 she curated Cinthia Marcelle’s first London exhibition, This Same World Over, and has written regularly about the artist’s work since then. She is Director of Postgraduate Research at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, and was formerly Head of Public Programmes at Nottingham Contemporary and LJMU Research Curator at Tate Liverpool. Exhibitions curated include Signals, if you like I shall grow (Kurimanzutto, New York, and Thomas Dane, London), Equipe 3 (Museu da Cidade de São Paulo, São Paulo) and Geraldo de Barros, What Remains (The Photographers Gallery, London).

I’d really like to think that the artist could be just another kind of material in the picture, working in collaboration with all the other materials.
Robert Rauschenberg