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Photos: Everton Ballardin

12 steps for the construction of DOME* 


The word DOME originates from the Latin dŏmus, which signifies habitation, but the Latin word itself has a more distant past. Its origin comes from medieval Latin, from the expression domus episcopi, which means house of the bishop or cathedral. In architecture domes are the finishing touch, the buildings which internally produce the cupolas. DOME is also the name of the installation that artist Vanderlei Lopes has designed to occupy the Morumbi Chapel.

The piece, embedded in the nave of the Chapel is analogous to an ideal real-scale Renaissance DOME, executed in 12 equal parts of clay, totaling four meters in diameter by almost ten in length.


2. The fall

Vanderlei Lopes's DOME is fallen. The toppling of the piece, besides explaining a time off-axis, also mentions the condition of an archaeological artifact, an object of cultural value for humanity to be preserved, such as the Morumbi Chapel itself, listed as an historical landmark.

The fall of the DOME brings the sky to the earth, converts the divine cupola

 into a dark hole.


3. Triad

The idea of ​​a triad permeates the work, not only because of the religiosity imposed on it by its own architecture—even though it is not consecrated, the architecture of the Chapel attributes symbolism to space—but also with the adornments present in the DOME, and by the disjunction of the times present there. The seventeenth century rammed earth and the Warchavchik intervention made in the 1940s now harbor, on a compromised scale, a third element, from a third time.


4. Inheritance

Vanderlei Lopes’ work constantly puts in check the cultural, intellectual and artistic tradition. The procedures used, as well as the forms and definitions of the projects, take into question the established tradition, whether in the realm of art, culture, the market, or life itself.


5. Bankruptcy

The fall, quoted here in item 2, goes beyond the patrimonial issue and the physical fall of the DOME. It also points to the bankruptcy of certain ideologies and values, such as those of the Renaissance that gave rise to the DOME, among many others that present themselves every day and which quickly depreciate and become ruins, often before they are consolidated, or even exist.


6. Architecture

In direct contact with the Morumbi Chapel, the architectural character of the DOME is made explicit. Right at the entrance, one can see the fitting of the base, in 12 wooden structures that surround the dome now converted into a hole. Between the ruptures in the clay surface it is possible to notice, with a little attention, internal structural lines. And entering the chapel, until finding the tip of the tower, one sees the drawn adornments and towers of its outer face. Its surface, similar in color to that of the Chapel, lends lightness to the DOME, and almost camouflages it on the walls in a dubious movement of belonging and estrangement.


7. Scale

The body constructs the scale of the work. The clay gives dimension of body, of skin. From the entrance we see ourselves inside, swallowed by the hole that the dome created in the fall. Visible only in design, since its position in the space doesn’t allow looking from great distances, fallen dome and tower have the shape of an optical nerve.

But the Dome obstructs the view. From outside the space you can see the inside of the Dome, and from inside the Chapel you can see the outside of it. There is no complete view.


8. Sculpture as excavation

The primordial act itself of sculpture is to dig, to remove matter to give form. The DOME appears here as a sculpture wrought from archeology, it seems to have been in the Chapel from the earliest times, to have been found along with the walls, excavated from the earth. Its cracked clay surface confers time to the DOME, resembles rammed earth, and the surface of the DOME approximates even more the textures of the clay walls of the Chapel.


9. Object in process

DOME was constructed as an observation experiment. Not that it has no value itself as an end result, but its goal is not only in the object, but in the experience of building. It is to build as a drawing, or better yet, to build as a sketch, as an outline.


10. Project as end

If the sculpture has a projectural character, its projects become sculpture. In the baptistry, an annex to the central nave of the Chapel, Vanderlei presents drawings in observational notes and the DOME construction process. These drawings of various shapes are now cast in bronze, permanently converted. They are what remains of DOME.


11. Deception

Deception is another constant in the artist's work. What appears to be drawn on paper is bronze sculpture, and what looks like a fragment of architecture found in an archaeological dig is the artist's sculpture. The deception here is forging time and matter.


12. Perfection

The number 12 that appears entangled in this project symbolizes perfection in various cultures and religions. Perfection here has an almost mythical value; it is not for the good done or well finished, but for a certain aura that walking through these 12 steps builds in the work, and that shows itself in itself. The DOME of Vanderlei Lopes presupposes one final step, a possible conversion into bronze that would transmute it in luminosity within and resistance without... thus no longer being a project and study to convert itself, as in a miracle, in constancy and permanence.

Douglas de Freitas

* the expressions and words that compose this list were extracted from the artist's notebooks

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