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Photos: Everton Ballardin

War of Time and Other Wars [1]


In his work Guerra del Tiempo (War of Time)[2], Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier gathered different perspectives of time in three short stories. In the last one, for instance, the chronological order is inverted; the short story begins with the character's death and eventually comes to his birth. Therefore, the author defies time and causes it to elapse counterclockwise. The homonymous work by Marilá Dardot, dated 2012, represents the artist's interpretation as an open dialog with Carpentier. In the image, the book Guerra del Tiempo appears on top of three other books, their sizes increasing in scale and each one having a different shade of paper. The yellow hue of the pages of each of the books denotes the different times they contain.


Marilá Dardot's war of time took place at Chácara Lane in almost fifteen years of lapses, forgetfulness, failed, truncated or even silent communications, where poetic, semantic and power games are established as an ongoing exercise of vanishing and reinventing themselves. Like in Guerra del Tiempo, it is the vacuum of elements already present in the world that the artist comes in by re-writing the meaning of things.


Marilá is a collector – things that are already circulating in the world are captured into the artist's intimate world and then are returned to circulation with a new meaning, a new configuration. Excerpts taken from books constitute her primary raw material and give birth to the works. The books themselves are also deconstructed and re-aligned with new purposes and actions. Then, at last, the common world, news and information that circulate on the streets, which reflect the world we live in, are now perceived in another way: with tenderness, silence and good mood.


A scribe of the here and now


When reflecting on the work of Richard Serra, Rosalind Krauss defined the list of verbs[3] created by him in 1967 as machines that were capable of building his work[4]. This is the starting point for Hic et nunc, where Marilá listed the verbs that drive her work in an attempt to discover what her own driving machines were. Each of the 72 verbs was written by the artist's right hand on a white board and, shortly after, erased by her left hand, in an attempt to spot the driving machine of her own work and, simultaneously, to deconstruct it, so as to keep this process always in review, yet retaining the memory of what it used to be in the past. The video, which is projected on the very white board on which the action was performed, starts and ends with the same: ‘to forget’.


Whereas in the video Hic et Nunc, the artist's 'here and now' in 2002, Marilá lists the machines that drive her work, time is what drives the exhibition; things solidify and remain with time, or they vanish and sink into oblivion. Erasing is the action required for being able to try to forget. By 'trying' it means that, once accomplished, nothing comes back to square one, everything leaves a trace However, a brick would never rock unless it is set on a solid base. This accumulation of solidifications and oblivions constitute the 'here and now'. 


Marilá writes through other[5]. She reviews writings from the past, from other contexts, then, in a poetic action, she transports them to the present so as to discuss current events. It is interesting to think about this proceeding of reconfiguring such writings at another time and space along with A meia-noite é também o meio-dia (Midnight is also midday)[6], where a clock takes twice the time to perform a full cycle and just coincides with the actual time at noon, thus creating an expanded time which sometimes seems to be late, sometimes early. The lapse that occurs is exactly as that of such reconfigured writings. From another time and context, based on the artist's action, they now operate at another pace; as the clock reaches the real time at noon, these works comment on the present, the new context and the new age, and then eventually reminds of its origin.


This is so in Marulho (Surge) and in Paisagem sob neblina (Landscape under fog), created from reading files where texts are extracted to be regarded as a work by the artist. The work progresses as in a discovery. In Paisagem sob neblina, for instance, the audience builds the image in the empty visual field designated by the artist through the text embroidered in the base of the work. In Constelações (Constallations)[7], the city lights are turned off until the landscape reveals a hidden word.


At the same time that a new configuration is given to the text, in order to generate a new image, the book as an object is also reconfigured to generate a new codification. In the Minha biblioteca (my library) series[8] , a colorful, geometric composition is created with book covers in languages that the artist does not speak and which, because of that, do not bring any memories to the artist's mind. The internal pages of the book are removed and the information on the cover is facing the wall. What is left is the graphic design, colors and images of the book pastedowns, which bring visual information that reflect the visual aspect of a particular culture. 


The book internal pages become an Código desconhecido (Unknown Code), as they are almost entirely removed, where just the parts joined by the threads remain; so any narratives are no longer there but the book structure, with different shapes and the yellow hue of the pages, which denote their age. This seam is the starting point for such fragments to group and align on the wall, forming a big, illegible bar code. At Chácara Lane, said fragments are spread around the room, they search for the paintings on the wall, and recall the very code of that architecture with different surfaces and colors, which point out the history of their usages.


Announced game


The idea of establishing a game is recurring in Marilá's work. Like in works such as Puzzling Over and Movimento das ilhas (Movement of the islands), where the changed game is the work itself, Paisagem sob neblina, for instance, also establishes a gaming relation with others. It is up to us to fancy the image that the artist is suggesting in the subtitles. 


Playing means to challenge the opponent and oneself at the same time. Other relationships are established on the game board, the communication is veiled, intermediated by an instrument, secrecy and intimacy are revealed in the game. Movimento das ilhas reveals how a new language is created; it does not matter what words were built during the game, what actually matters is the relationship between the players and the secret language they establish as a dance on the game board.


Not only the way the work is created that defies the audience, but also how it is conveyed to the exhibition room, which brings the audience to the game. Rayuela (Hopscotch)[9] gives the literary game by Cortázar[10] a new approach in terms of construction, at the same time that it contains the narrative in the composition. In Entre nós (Between us)[11] , thirteen videos show doubles playing with letter dices spread throughout the area, like in a huge game board. When visitors watch these videos, they become co-players by imagining other possible words that have not been devised by the players.


Mottoes, goals and philosophies


In Prefiro sim (I would prefer yes)[12], words such as “no”, “never”, and “ever” are erased on a black board. It is the deconstruction of the negativity by the possibility of "yes". Marilá elects her mottoes, goals and philosophies. In Never to Forget, there is no hierarchy in the appropriation of sentences, and "fuck the pain away", as said by singer Peaches, goes hand in hand with "nothing more right than nothing” [13], by Fernando Pessoa. These mottoes are typed on a form paper currently found in the market, but which had been mistakenly printed. It is "writing straight with crooked lines". 


Demão (Coat) has a similar principle, but it does not start from the artist's intimate sphere, but from the history of Brazil in the public and social context. In this work, mottoes and slogans of the various federal governments of Brazil and catchphrases from public demonstrations – ranging from "Independência ou morte" (Independence or Death) to the current "não vai ter golpe" (no to the coup) are painted on the exhibition panels at Chácara Lane by lettering artists, who used to paint political propaganda on the city walls in the past. Placed one on the other in chronological order, the catchphrases are veiled and overlapped and never fully erase the previous one, just like what happens in the city. Therefore, Marilá silently erects a monument to oblivion; she shows how history and – why not say it, the world – builds and rebuilds a discourse, overlaps events, but never fully delete them, for the good and for the bad.


A Educação pela pedra (Education by stone)[14] also involves appropriation. Here, the artist reproduces, in a floor sculpture in paving stones, the same that cover the floor of the Lasar Segall Museum, for which the work had been commissioned, the verse ‘Para aprender da pedra, frequentá-la’ (to learn from the stone: to go to it often;), by João Cabral de Melo Neto[15]. As in Demão, the work is no longer a displacement and takes a formal configuration, it silently occupies the space as a strong, yet subtle reminder.


Mine and ours


As coisas estão no mundo (Things are in the world)[16] is the confirmation/statement made by the artist with three tons of paper used in print shops to calibrate colors and print registration for art books. Sharing assumes that things are universal, private interests are directly related to universal interests. Things are out there, they relate with one another and with ourselves.


Sebo (Old book store) is a collection of items found by Marilá Dardot and Fabio Morais[17] in books purchased in second hand book stores, books already used and read[18]. These objects, which rest inside the books to mark where the reading has stopped, eventually remained forgotten there. Each of those objects that everyone recognizes, as we also have similar ones, brings with it a hidden, private, forgotten history that is preserved inside the books.


In A Biblioteca de Babel (The Library of Babel)[19] based on the question "Is there any book that you would like to share with the word?” Marilá invites people to lend their books, thus creating a library, a space for co-loving and reading. With hammocks and plants, a domestic space is provisionally set in the exhibition area. As the installation is exhibited, new books may be added to this provisional collection and, in the end, the books return to their library of origin.


"How much did you spend to get her?”, "How much money do you make?”, "What did you have for lunch today?”, "How much does it cost something you want to sell?” are some of the questions asked by the artist[20]. Marilá's interest relies on the construction of a collective atmosphere that originates from a private one, from the particular unity that creates the whole. Therefore, Marilá approaches the ordinary daily life, that which goes unnoticed every day and which is easy no to detect or to forget, but which is present every day, our social inequality.


That was the case of the news collection of the video Diário (Diary)[21], which then originated the tabloid Diário de Janeiro (January Diary)[22]. This represents the vanishing of the great events, the big news, which, no matter the impact they might cause, last only up to the publication of the next issues. They go into oblivion.


What prevails is the discovery that, no matter the side on the game board you play, everything that separates us – language, ideology, or life style – is at the same time universal, it gives form to the world we live in, in a succession of errors, hits, oblivions and new constructions. Everything that unites us is also what separates us.



Douglas de Freitas



[1] War of Time and Other Wars is how the artist called the conversation session that took place at Chácara Lane on April 9, 2016 with curator Douglas de Freitas and architect Marta Bogéa. 

[2] CARPENTIER, Alejo. Guerra del tiempo. Cuba: Alianza, 1958.

[3] ‘In 1967, I wrote a list of verbs as a way to apply various activities to non specified materials. Wind, fold, bend, shorten, scrape, cut, break... The language structured my activities regarding materials that worked just like transitive verbs.’ ESPADA, Heloisa (org.) Richard Serra, writings and interviews 1967-2013. Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Moreira Salles, 2014 (p. 51)

[4] KRAUSS, Rosalind E. Caminhos da escultura moderna ("The paths of modern sculpture"). São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2001. (p. 330)

[5] see Uma escritora (A writer), by Fabio Morais, accessed on 2/7/2016, now published in this catalog.

[6] A meia-noite é também o meio-dia (Midnight is also midday), 2004 | Modified clock | 61 x 45 x 16 cm

[7] Constelações (Constellations), 2003 | Video | 46' | Color, no sound 

[8] As part of the Minha biblioteca series, the artist created: my Dutch, Italian, Hebrew, UAE, Slovak, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Russian, Czech, Viennese libraries and in the "Guerra do tempo" exhibition, she presented Minha biblioteca sueca (My Swedish library) and Minha biblioteca polonesa (My Polish library).

[9] Rayuela (Hopscotch), 2005 | Installation | 322 frames | Ink jet printing on cotton paper | 22.5 x 29 cm (each)

[10] O Julio Cortázar's book Rayuela was published for the first time in 1963 in Spain. In this work, the author gives the reader the option of another way to read it in addition to conventional linear reading.

[11] Entre nós (Between us), 2006 |Video installation |13 videos (variable duration), tvs on wood racks | Color, with sound

[12] Prefiro sim (I would prefer yes), 2005 | Video | 2’20” | Color, with sound 

[13] PESSOA, Fernando. The selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa. New York: Grove Press, 2001.

[14] A Educação pela pedra (Education by Stone), 2012 | Installation | Stone letters 

[15] The verse was taken from the poem "A educação pela pedra”, from the homonymous book, which features poems by João Cabral de Melo Neto written between 1960-1966.

[16] As coisas estão no mundo (Things are in the world), 2013 | Installation | three tons of offset printing test paper distributed in stacks and carved on site 

[17] Fabio Morais and Marilá Dardot develop works as a dialog or partnership. Like Marilá, Fabio also has literature and books as topics of his work. The Artist's book Sebo released in 2007, came as a result from the discovery that both artists collected the same objects. 

[18] Along with the catalog is a new issue of Sebo, where Marilá Dardot's and Fabio Morais' collection is updated up to 2016. In the new issue they also added Biblioteca (Library), a collection of objects forgotten inside the books of the Luiz de Bessa State Public Library, in Belo Horizonte.

[19] A Biblioteca de Babel (The Library of Babel), 2005 | Ambient 

[20] These questions, among others, are in the questionnaire that gave rise to the work ‘Quanto é? O que nos separa(How much? What makes us apart), 2015. This questionnaire was used in a survey carried out at Praça Mauá, in Rio de Janeiro. Based on the answers given, Marilá developed the video and invited performer Felipe Fly for an action at Praça Mauá during the exhibition of the film on a wall. Felipe interacted with people like the vendors who stand in front of popular stores to announce their products. In the exhibition "Guerra do Tempo", the video is exhibited with a new audio, recorded with Felipe Fly in a recording studio, based on the performance carried out in Rio de Janeiro.

[21] Diário (Diary), 2015 | Video installation | Versions with 1, 3 or 7 projections | Duration of the single channel version 118’ 

[22]  During an artist residence at the Casa Wabi, in México, between January 8 and 30, 2015, Marilá recorded a video every day using the most impacting headlines she found in Mexican newspapers. Written with water on the great concrete wall of the house designed by Tadao Ando, the headlines vanish as soon as they are written, which materialize the transience of their impact. Based on the video, Marilá created the tabloid, where the headlines were edited and printed on newsprint paper in a shade of gray that was similar to plain paper, so as to keep the idea of vanishing that the video conveyed. The front page of the tabloid gets layers of several images that accompanied said news, but that now are turned into an almost solid gray block.

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