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Photos: Everton Ballardin

[automatically translated]

Penelope's work

“Four years almost, saddens us, deluded

Of promises, errands and hopes,

And al has it in the heart. With another mistake,

He told us, by laying out a thin wide web:

— My lovers (...)

You do not urge me, my labor losing,

Without the shroud of the hero Laertes

All be woven, for when

In the long sleep, listening to fado (...)

This naive excuse we accept.

She, a triennium, dissolved at night

By the light of the lamp the daytime work;”


Homer's Odyssey - excerpt on Penelope



It is from the Greek myth recorded in Homer's Odyssey that Tatiana Blass lends the name Penélope to the installation developed to occupy the Morumbi Chapel. According to the myth, after a year of marriage, Odysseus leaves Penelope and leaves for the Trojan War. Twenty years later, with no news, Penelope starts to be harassed by new suitors, and assumes the commitment to choose a new husband when she finishes weaving a shroud for Odysseus' father. During the day, in the eyes of all, she wove; during the night, lonely, she fell apart in an attempt to deceive time and deceive her suitors, waiting for the return of her beloved.


In the installation, a large hand treadle loom is positioned on the Chapel's altar; on one side a long red carpet is woven, on the other the carpet unravels. The red carpet symbology is not particularly linked to religion, but to power. The purple color, highly valued in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, is a dark red tending to purple, obtained from some species of molluscs. Large amounts of these molluscs and a lot of labor were needed to extract the substance used for dyeing, which made the fabric extremely expensive. Due to its high cost, red was typically worn by royalty and church members, and over time it became a symbol of royal and ecclesiastical power.


It is this symbol of power that greets us at the door of the Chapel. We follow the rug to the loom, and see its construction dissected; there is a dubious movement, we do not know if the piece is falling apart or if it is being built. Standing still, the loom ends up revealing building in this way, an act that is normally not visible. Tatiana gives us some elements to insinuate an existence, a movement, or a construction, and it's up to us to imagine the rest. If other works by the artist suggest a parenthesis between things in order to make explicit an action, or a presence through absence, here the loom is configured as what is between parentheses, giving materiality to a hidden element.


On the other side of the loom, the threads run disorderly, run along the floor or climb the walls, overcoming them through the existing holes in the architecture – the result of the rammed earth constructive technique – and gain the garden, dragging themselves like a vine -chumbo, a parasitic plant that served as a reference for the work. Because it does not have chlorophyll, the lead vine cannot produce its food, needing a host plant to stay alive. By covering the plant little by little, it suffocates it; the only way to kill the pest is to kill the host as well. As in the works made in wax by the artist, we witness a slow withering away. From the outside, what we see is the spreading of this large red spot that, despite having a light appearance, like the parasite, consumes the landscape horizontally, in a way like in the paintings and books created by the artist, where the landscape is invaded by color spots.


In previous works there is already this dubious movement of constructing/deconstructing Penélope. Chairs and tables flow in patches of color, losing their functionality, hovering between being a utensil and being just color, objects are divided in half and presented sectioned or with small unevenness, animals are presented incomplete, in order to intrigue us; dog or man melt almost to the end, always in transformation, but also, always halfway between form and non-form. This is what we see in Penélope, despite insinuating a doing, or an undoing, the work is at a standstill; always at the same point, it is as if this suggested construction/deconstruction took place in secret.


In Tatiana Blass' production, as well as in the myth of Penelope, we spectators are constantly being deceived, after all, for the artist, part of the role of art is to create strangeness, astonishment, illusions, a displacement of reality that challenges our perception. As in any belief, religious or not, it is up to our participation for it to exist, we need to let ourselves be carried away. As the artist says in another work, deceit is the luck of the happy.


Douglas de Freitas

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