Museu de Art do Rio, Rio de Janiero
January 14th – April 27th, 2014
In a 1971 newspaper one sees a man with legs flexed and trunk bent forward. Under his body, a surfboard and sea foam. “In sliding, a sensation of vertigo”, reads the caption that accompanies the photo. The title of the piece? “And the waves were mastered.” If we leaf through the pages of other publications from the same period, we’ll also come across attempts to master the geometry of concrete. Skateboarding on the handrails of commercial buildings, in private condominiums and in empty pools, seen as potential spaces for new moves.
Surfing and skating are the North and South of this exhibit. Both sports are viewed from a historical perspective, but without the pretense of being exhaustive. Information and images were selected from a temporal arch that goes from 1778, when the first drawings were made of native Hawaiians surfing, to public discussions in Brazil on the role of these activities.
It’s worth reflecting on the artistic dimension raised by these different ways of exploring space. Would it be possible to affirm that some artists have such a strong existential relation with surfing or skating to the point of making them central elements in their artistic language? It certainly looks that way.
Aside from situations in which the dance of movements appears in its literalness, other artistic propositions treat visuality in a more oblique manner; board and deck can be seen as sculptural forms, just as the waves of the sea and the waiting are flanked by the loud spread of papers pasted over the surfaces of the cities. The gaze can also be cast on the one who rides: who are these skaters and surfers? Is there space for the multicultural representation of archetypes? How to interpret the many self-portraits in dialogue here?
It’s important to recall, in conclusion, a few words spoken by the skater and collector Eduardo Yndyo: “Everything that slides mesmerizes. If the sliding can be controlled, there’s passion.” Let’s be mesmerized, therefore, by these stories and try to control them in our memories until we experience the only certainty of the slide: the fall.