paço imperial bathroom, 2001

The Story of Marble by Angela Freiberger

From the scene, the furniture remained. An archaic memory of the statuary, which left light traces on the cold stone as they passed. The body that once marked marble is now a ghost. He wanders around in that room of the unconscious and needs the weight of matter to announce his absence. What freed him was a bath, a dip, then sleep and the fairy Mabe. He purged all the sins, in a purification ritual, and walked, sleepwalking, through the vernissage, indifferent to the drinking and talking crowd. In the bath, he didn’t look for innocence: he just wanted the lightness of the movement and transferred all rigidity and memory to the static pieces. He didn’t give them the monstrous scale of a Louise Bourgeois; he stayed in Alentejo, working in a domestic dimension; hence, this familiar aspect, of an intimate poetry that whispers, delicately, a hand, an arm, a shoulder. The stones have a whiteness traced by the red threads of dawn. She crossed the Atlantic in the company of the dancing philosopher, whom she had, in a moment, transformed into a photographer, and returned to Brazil. She followed the path to Alto da Boa Vista, at the foot of the mountains of the city of the holy martyr, the one with the bleeding body, tied to the trunk, pierced by the arrows of her tormentors, and plunged into industry among machines, dust and noise. From up there, if she squinted hard enough, across the sea, she would see Africa and the king’s sacrifice. But she doesn’t want that immense space of ocean and history because her emptiness is different. The one from the body that leaves, retires in sleep and opens the doors to important events. However, when she wakes up, she only sees the marks on the marble – feet, hands, arms, shoulders, the remains of the dream – and feels the full weight of oblivion on the stone. After bath, on the walk, he thought of a meal with huge plates where the food, invisible, would be placed outside, on the table, around it, and everyone would only look at the pale discs, absolutely flat and opaque like absolute mirrors of nothingness. Paying attention, he saw that he built a house, made of bath and meal. Satisfied, in the bathtub, almost in bed, she rests. And again dreams of the next scene. This is one of the many stories of Angela Freiberger’s marbles, which are told in Carrara, Italy, the land of people who have worked with stone for centuries. It can be narrated in many other ways. I know a critic who prefers to include her in the repertoire of contemporary art and its feminist side, in one of those interpretations that deprives art of the artistic question in order to transfer it to a multicultural plane where content replaces any question of form. But she can’t resist and talks about the lack of viscosity of the red liquid (actually, currant syrup diluted in water), in which the artist bathes, as a metaphor for sanguine, Renaissance drawings that invented the female body in the sketches of great artists who never they had seen a naked woman. Or it wasn’t really this kind of body they were interested in. It is a possible journey. Another rigorous formalist, sublimated in his theoretical repression, sees nothing more than a problem for architects who decorate bathrooms. In it, art is tied to a precise history of specific practices. Having reached the constructive and expressive paradigms, no work would escape the impasse: either it conforms or it does not form. There is also the historical researcher; he observes, documents and frames, he does not judge, because he is not a critic. And, above all, he cannot talk about what is so close, he always needs distance. The most comical ones are the ones who are always writing their top ten list. It is difficult for them to understand Angela’s art, which is made of marble, video and performance, and it is more than these three means in which she materializes.

Paulo Sergio Duarte, Rio de Janeiro, October, 2001