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Art & Social Space
Suburban Thoughts : Part 2
by Maria Angélica Melendi

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For the French writer, contemporary art proposes to develop a political project through the efforts made to investigate and question the relational sphere. In this way, the exhibition would generate a territory of specific interchanges, as it would become a privileged space for the installation of certain instantaneous communities, governed by various principles, according to the degree of spectator participation required by the artist, the nature of the work, and the models of sociability proposed or represented.(3)

Contemporary art, more than merely representing, proposes modeling itself after, inserting itself and acting within the social weave, instead of seeking inspiration from same. From this viewpoint, the work of art is shown as a crack in the social fabric, a space of human relations which, by integrating itself more or less harmoniously into the global system, suggests possibilities for interchange other than those currently in that system.

The task of art in the realm of the interchange of representation would be to create free spaces, put forward temporary propositions whose rhythm crosses the rhythms of those that organize everyday life, and to favor intrapersonal relationships other than those imposed upon us by the society of communication.

V. Memorial to oblivion

On a wall in the center of the city, the girl writes white words against a black background. These are the names of the people who normally walk through this street. Lais Mhyrraí­s action consists of asking passersby for their names, and then writing these on the wall. The names, written one on top of another, will saturate the wall until it turns white. The writing will be erased by the repetition of the act of writing.

Lais Mhyrra, who works in Belo Horizonte with the Novos Utópicos group, operates almost always through projects involving relations with the community, in the form of inquiries or the collection of data. Her textual practice consists very often of the act of writing itself, which, in these cases, becomes a pure gesture over space. Personal names and dates, precious substantives, result in a form of naming that almost always indicates the pre-semantic elements of writing or the oblivion propagated by the letter.

The subtle appearance of the theme of death unleashes itself in works in which repetition is merely a necessary ceremony, an exterior wrapping. Writing and repetition prevent the possibility of trivializing the traumatic images of collective memory, because what is repeated — and what is erased — is the incomplete sum of the differences.

Day after day Lais writes on the wall, the passersby return and look at their written names, now erased, submerged in the white tide of all the names. Incredulous, some point out where it was, where it still is, merged with the others, their only personal name.

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