Off JOYA 2018. Women who read are dangerous: an exhibition review with Marcia Cirne Lima, Marta Costa Reis, Alejandra Ferrer

Published: 26.11.2018
Yuxi Sun Yuxi Sun
Yuxi Sun
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Photo from Tuuulibrería​ Instagram account..
Photo from Tuuulibrería Instagram account.

© By the author. Read Copyright.

Thanks to Marcia, Marta and Alejandra who patiently answered all my questions after the exhibition through email, which helped me make this review easier to understand… It also helped everyone who was not able to attend the exhibition. Via this review, they can now know about in the most possible completed way. In this review, I will try to recall the curating process and the creating process with three artists.

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This mini-exhibition hid in a second-hand bookstore called Tuuulibrería which is located in a busy area, the amount of books stocked is incredible. The bookstore is a perfect dreamland for many book lovers making visitors feel as if they are really “floating” in an ocean of books. As far as I can see, the books here became the perfect reason for Marta and her friends to chose it as the setting for their exhibition. 

All photos from Tuuulibrería Instagram account.
From left to right: re-
Instagram from the victorian whisper, Instagram by Tuuulibrería,
Instagram from natasha_vag.

When Marta found out that was possible to make the exhibition in this amazing bookstore during Off JOYA by chance, she was over the moon. Firstly, Marta is a book lover, she loves reading. Secondly, her work is inspired by the text. Thirdly, the core of this exhibition was 3 artists who hate to follow the mainstream. The possibility to read and write freely is a strong albeit sometimes underrated measure of women’s power in society. Hence, this bookstore Tuuulibrería was the only right and proper place for this exhibition.

The 3 artists-cum-book lovers saw themselves as a group of dangerous women who were willing to absorb from the books. By coincidence, after they confirmed the exhibition title, Marta also discovered the American author Lisa Kleypas and that she had written a quote:
A well-read woman is a dangerous creature. 
Then this exhibition title was sure as shooting.
We just thought we had to use that. It reflects us, and the political climate we are living and it connected with the place we used. It was just perfect. Marta added.

On behalf of the three artists, why are women who love to read so dangerous? What is the definition of a dangerous woman? Marcia thinks the person who keeps asking, chasing the answer, continuing the invention, exploring, getting along with different people could be called dangerous… and everyone could become this type of dangerous person. Marta also agreed with Marcia: 
The dangerous ones are those who dare to ask questions and go after the answer. Not to take things at first sight, not to take orders just because, to think for yourself and to educate yourself to embrace as much of the world as you can. Books open your mind to those pursuits. Also, to be a creator can be a dangerous thing, and we wanted to play with “dangerous creatures” and “dangerous creators.

The special mini-exhibition was set by the bookstore entrance:

Exhibition entrance.

Alejandra’s work is all about the portrait. They were outlined by red threads so that the white paper behind the portrait image was not only the medium record the red threads but also a background to highlight the piece. The thread and paper were rather fragile material, just like our memories. Someone had gone away, but the glue had left behind a trace mark. After the thread had been pulled out from the paper, the trace mark would stay, just like those fading and light memories.

Here is a small video Aleja made to interpret the work. These portraits referred to some memories, and the appearance and disappearance of those pieces were made in a second.
scroll down to watch the video at the end of the review).

Pieces by Alejandra Ferrer, from the series Self-Portrait, 2018. Material: polyester paper, polyester yarn and adhesive tape.

Pieces by Alejandra Ferrer, from the series Self-Portrait, 2018. Material: polyester paper, polyester yarn and adhesive tape.

Pieces by Alejandra Ferrer, from the series Self-Portrait, 2018. Material: polyester paper, polyester yarn and adhesive tape.

Some of Marta’s work was in the big geometric shape:

Geometric pendants are iron made, painted or rusted by Marta Costa Reis, 2018.

Images below showed that Marta transformed the morse code into the jewellery pieces to recall the poems she loved, which helps us carry the beautiful poems with us.
The black necklace below was from American poet Susan Kinsolving – Trust.

Marta Costa Reis,  necklace: Trust, 2018. Material: polyester string, alpaca. Photo by Marta Costa Reis.
Trust that there is a tiger, muscular Tasmanian, and sly
which has never been seen and never will be seen by any human eye.
Trust that thirty
thousand snakes stretch beyond their skins in the sun. 
I must trust all this to be true, though the few birds at my feeder watch the window with small flutters of fear,
so like my own.

slowly bears sleep. 
Through vast canyons, horses run while 
contentment, will never near a ship,
that far from cameras or cars elephant herds live long elephant lives.
Believe that bees by the billions find unidentified flowers on unmapped marshes and mountains.
Safe in caves of 
word fish's
Susan Kinsolving

The other black necklace is from the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, a part of the poem When You Are Old.

Marta Costa Reis,  necklace: When You Are Old, 2018. Material: polyester string, gold. Photo by Marta Costa Reis.

When You Are Old
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face
/ William Butler Yeats

The pieces at this exhibition were all new creations by Marta, and they were the development from the last exhibition she made with Iris Eichenberg at Galeria Reverso in July. After Marta translated her favourite poems into the necklace, she knew this method was called Steganography. This way of creation had a long history and an interesting process. Marta was so weltering into it that she would love to continue to develop this method of creation.
I look forward to seeing more of them and how she developed this method in her own way.

When I asked Marta how she merged her work with this exhibition, and how she responded the topic with her pieces, Marta mentioned that  she was not very worried about making work that spoke directly about the issues, because they had already defined themselves as the dangerous women, so they responded directly as who they were,
We are those women, because we read, because we create because we dare to do it. 
Marta was born and raised in Europe, she did not grow up with the social environment filled with too many obvious social issues, but Marcia and Alejandra came from South America, whose society was more complex,
We can see – namely in Brazil or even in the US – how women’s right (or human right for that matter) can not be taken for granted. I don’t make especially political work and I don’t look for political topics to inspire me but in a way my existence is a political and that I will not erase. So, in short, the show was not about showing work or dangerous women, but showing ourselves as dangerous women, because we are creators and also acknowledging how reading is an important part of us.

In Marta’s work, she liked to think about the issue which transcends individualities, minds and languages; she liked to think about eternity rather than a human lifespan; she liked to deal with archetypical images that came to her from daily observations. Each small thing might carry profound meanings. Marta always tried to follow her thoughts and observations in order to find a universal sense.

Marcia played with the title of each piece. This group of unusual button accessories was specially made for our clothes buttons, but they also seemed like a new type of brooch in the other way.

Marcia Cirne Lima, brooch: buttons for one button, 2018. Material: copper and alpaca. Size: 3.5 x 1.5 cm . Photo by Marcia Cirne Lima.

Marcia Cirne Lima, brooch: Things to wear on one button, 2018. Material: copper, alpaca. Size: approx 3.5 x 6.5 cm .

This group of bottom brooches was called Things to wear on one button, and surely there was another series called Things to wear on two buttons:

Here is one sample.
Marcia Cirne Lima, brooch: Things to wear on two buttons, 2018. Material: copper. Size: 3 x 14 cm . Photo by Marcia Cirne Lima.

They made me smile when I knew this narrative and blunt title and when I saw they were such special functional accessories.
The image below was the first series of work that Marcia made out of copper, and how she found out the different methods to deal with the piece. It was Marcia’s experience record.

Marcia Cirne Lima, ring, 2017/2018. Material: copper, iron, silver.

The exhibiting pieces were Marcia’s recent creation. Maybe they were not specially made for the exhibition, but they were selected for it. From the photo Marcia received, she knew that the bookstore was fully packed with an unbelievable amount of books, so she chose the most minimalistic work to match the location scenery in order to create some strangeness among all the books as the background. Besides, Marcia especially mentioned a hand-forged nail, which looked like a gun. She called it a dangerous piece.
Do not fly with it, but the set was never an illustration of the title of the exhibition. Marcia added.

When I asked Marcia how she merged the work with this exhibition, and how she responded the topic with her pieces, Marcia said: 
Women who read are dangerous, as are women who do, who wear 
jewelry as we do. We take risks. We did not choose the obvious. We accept the danger.
In Marcia’s work, she often mixed different elements, and she was fond of taking some unusual ways to create and deal with work. The materials were usually collected by her, and she carried them around when she was on the way, just like the hand-forged nail she found in Lisbon. She brought the nail back to her studio in São Paulo. Marcia’s studio in Brazil was filled with all kinds of stuff she collected from everywhere

The mixture elements and her personal collection were a part of Marcia’s poetic game, which was also the base of her creation. She put one or several related materials on the table, where she established her hierarchies. She compared them, and to see how they performed on the body, then she made choice. She repeated again and again until she reached the correct articulation until there was a desire stimulated, or a question raised — even if it was only like:
What is this?
How does it work?

When I asked them if there was any feedback from visitors touched them, Marta said she was very touched when people understood their work without her explanation.
Although the reflection about the work is important and to discuss it is always interesting.
I agree that the silence behind the understanding is the best.
I like that moment before words when you get a sense of what you are seeing. This doesn’t happen all the time but it did happen in this show and in general. Marta continued.
Although this was a mini-exhibition, in terms of the location choice, the setting and the presentation of the pieces, they were all clearly represent how artists firmed with their work. They were reflecting on the social issue and the attitude of being a self-seeker.

About the author

Yuxi Sun completed her Bachelor of Arts in Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2015. She finished her Master of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at the University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein in 2018. Meanwhile, she has been interning at Klimt02 since 2017.
Jewellery by Alejandra Ferrer
Alejandra Ferrer
From the series Self Portrait.

© By the author. Read Copyright.