Neighbor's Backyard, 2013.
 
In this project the color green is associated with the grass that envelops cups and saucers, creating a reference to “Le Déjeuner en Fourrure” (Meret Oppenheim, 1943). The work plays with subjective feelings of envy and current art concepts, such as fake, borrow, steal, real, organic, formal, copy, visceral, logical, plain, original and texture. 
 
The show consists of 6 prints and a sod installation covering the gallery floors that the public can walk upon and that I will be painted green every 3 days.
 
Disturbance and Fakery in Cibele Vieira’s Neighbor’s Backyard
 
Gaudêncio Fidelis*
 
Ever since we can remember, the making of art has involved the transformation of reality. However, this self-proclaimed metamorphoses, which gained different contours throughout history and has been in a number of ways made banal by virtual reality and other means of technology, takes a rather complex turn in Cibele Vieira’s strategy of art making. Her installation Neighbor’s Backyard undertakes a strange combination of labor and artistic intent to reverse the process of time as death plays a part in creating originality and truthfulness. Her work does not fake death. Instead it mimics reality beyond the point of belief, transforming what we may know as being truth in something even truer.
Grass has long been a problematic motif in art. Whenever it appears, it conveys a sense of the mysterious, a disturbing intrusiveness and a playground for speculation. We may recall Édouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (1862-1863), as a case in point. The painting also disturbs our sense of reality due to the unusual application of brushstrokes, the lack of depth and rendering of light that seems almost unnatural, in the context of the academic inclinations that preceded it. Grass has long been associated with leisure and sexuality when it conflates with our perception of the wilderness and brings up the free spirit of nature.
Vieira’s title of her work refers to a common expression that is implicated in a space of dominance in the field of politics or one of intrusiveness as we refer to the social realm of conviviality. In both cases, it is a mined territory nevertheless. Here it’s ironic that such a contentious space is transferred to the space of the gallery, which is a also space of conflicting ideologies, esthetic disputes and the politics of beauty. Here the artist intervenes in the material reality of space and time by performing a simple act of painting the natural grass she uses to cover the gallery continuously as it dries out and dies in the artificial environment of the gallery. The greener appearance it takes by the paint applied by the artist seeks to overturn time’s effect from nature, as a form of revealing the transformational experience of art in order to disrupt the natural order of things and therefore challenge the foundational premises that distinguishes truthfulness from fakery in art.
But the feminist aspect of this work is informed by an iconic work by Méret Oppenheim, Le Déjeuner en Foururre (1936). In her object Oppenheim transforms the outside, masculine take of Manet’s painting, into a more prosaic approach related to the domestic, imprisoned space of femininity. These two works form a genealogy that travels in time from the representational reality of the painting to the artifices of fakery, a transformational experience of art that reveals the politics of gender, canonicity and geniality. Vieira’s work lies in between these two points in history. Brought to the protected, safe heaven/space of the gallery, the experience of turning real grass into mere texture is nothing more than a strategy to reveal the procedures that mimic the very trajectory of a work of art as it goes from nature to art, from experience to labor, exposing the dispersive and dismissive character of an art object as it advances the territory of masterpiece. This is not to say that Neighbor’s Backyard aims to achieve such status, as we may know it never will, but to uncover the interstices of a system of objects in art history, connected to each other and at the same time separated by political stances of gender and politics. It may be that the Manet and Oppenheim works are not far apart in that respect, but they do represent two provocative stances that linger in time as an artist works toward achieving artistic stature: implying reality and fabricating one. We must remind ourselves that Oppenheim’s object is made from dead animal skin and it’s ready-made aspect differs from the evolving transformation of Vieira’s installation. Vieira’s work also reveals a surplus that is produced in the borderline of spontaneity and politics which disorients the audience that might think this may be a work about nature, some naïf intervention related to the tradition of earthworks, or even a performance of some sort. Instead it mocks the experiences of art being transcendental, taking artistic intent to another level, exacerbating at the same time a genealogy that connects some artistic traditions in time as a form of making sense of narrative, while in fact only reinforcing all that which stays at its margins.
 
 
 
* Gaudêncio Fidelis has a Ph.D. in Art History from SUNY-Binghamton and is director of Rio Grande do Sul Museum of Art in Brazil.
 n text writen by Gaudêncio Fidelis 


 
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