Lia Chaia - Anônimo

DE 14/09/2010 - 19/10/2010 A


Anônimo – Lia Chaia

Lucio Agra (2010)

In the dizzying indecision making up what we call the contemporary, one thing, at least, has been seen with reasonable unanimity: the centrality of the body – our body, the body of each person – as a target of every interest.

The ensuing question, which I do not wish to answer here, is whether the body is resurging because it is struggling in a war against a “virtualization” of its properties, if the enchanting aspect is its “constancy” or if, paradoxically, having served as a resource for confronting the commodification of works of art in the 1960s and ’70s, it has become an object-fetish itself.

In my opinion, what Lia Chaia is proposing lies quite outside this easy scheme of thought. Because it is not only recently that she began to focus her work on what the body – her own body – has the power to suggest. In 2001, with the use of her own breath in Big Bang, and the astounding 51 minutes of her desenho-corpo [body-drawing] – the documentation of a performance that established her as a new and singular name in the recent art scene – it was evident that her target was the flesh and skin, scribbled on with a Bic pen, out of focus, in dialogue with the human representation of the earth or with a cutout paper smile applied on the face. The following year, this became even clearer in the series Experiências com o corpo [Experiences with the body] and com a sorte dos que gozam [with the luck of those who cum]. In the latter, a skeleton – present once again (or perhaps never exiled) – masturbates itself, suggesting humor and irony as the other fundamental features of her work.

From then on, her initial investigations have been unfolded in interchanges of meaning of which a good example is Rodopio [Whirl] (the video), which documents processes that gave rise to the column of hula hoops in 2009. If everything is not necessarily a function of the body, it is all connected with it, whether for wearing (as in Setamanco [Arrowclogs]) or for encountering its “second nature,” by way of the plant-life bones that constitute the “pattern” of the Série Esqueleto [Skeleton Series] (of the same year). This vegetal world can likewise be swallowed/incorporated (Comendo paisagens [Eating Landscapes], 2005 Folíngua [Tongue-Leaf], 2003), or can even become its own annulling inverse, composing a spinal column (Coluna [Column], 2003 or Minhocão [Big Worm], 2006). Few artists have so effectively conveyed this dilemma of the metropolis in which we live (one, at least, comes to mind, León Ferrari, in his series made with Letraset patterns for architecture).

Observed in this way, the works by Lia Chaia moreover converse with themselves horizontally, breaking down the mere chronological succession and demonstrating a constant coming and going around the same themes (the landscape, the green plants, the human bodies, the animals, the geography, the places). This is what engenders her peculiar voice, as in the crooked and deformed sand castles (2002) that dialogue with the gardens that change places (Mudança de Jardim [Change of Garden], 2008) or the communicating vessels, the fluids, the saps and branchings that have proliferated along this first decade of the 21st century.


Imploded, the vegetal skeleton is opened onto the wall as a band of fragments (rain, another of her constant themes). The body that was earlier covered by ants (a reference to Zé do Caixão?) is today covered by eyes, girls with eyes to be seen, or with feather-muscles (supreme power and maximal lightness). In these ten years, Lia Chaia’s vocabulary has expanded and taken on the dimension of a spinal column, has gained body and stands on its own feet, under its enlargement (the figure of the most expressive language of the time). Now, as the most insignificant things, the results of the fluids and the cells gain proportion on her belly, the oversized works are simultaneously expanded in her oeuvre. The gigantesque takes the form of the sign of life.

We are therefore facing questions inherent to the century that is beginning and to the life which is renewed. We are hearing the strong voice of an artist who is constantly asking the same things: what are we to be, in the midst of this that we have inherited? It is not a new question; it is perhaps the overriding question of all the artists. However, this is certainly what makes them the intercessors through which we understand the dilemma of each anonymous being that each of us is.

Lucio Agra
 Poet, essayist, performer, professor with the undergraduate course in Communication of Body Arts at PUC/SP. He has just published MONSTRUTIVISMO – reta e curva das vanguardas [Monstructivism – The Straight and Curved of the Vanguards] (ed. Perspectiva)

The artist is grateful to Paulo Mendel, Leandro Costa, Pablo Vieira, Daniel Chaia and Carolina Ghidetti