Selective Memory

Carla Chaim, Celina Portella, Marcelo Amorim, Marlene Stamm, Nino Cais

Dates: 16/03 – 11/05/2019

Artists: Carla Chaim, Celina Portella, Marcelo Amorim, Marlene Stamm and Nino Cais

Curation: Isabel Sanson Portella

Location: Galeria Aymoré (Clarabóia)


Memória Seletiva [Selective Memory]

We are our memories, and we are this
chimeric museum of inconstant forms,
this pile of broken mirrors.
– Jorge Luis Borges

We are our memories, and we are all that had meaning, somehow and imprint marks. But our brain tends to reject the superfluous by keeping only what memory has selected. We discard daily the attitudes, beliefs and opinions that restrict us. We welcome images and compatible thoughts, thus forming an identity that will express itself in many different ways. “If we remembered everything we would be as sick as if we did not remember anything,” says writer Jorge Luis Borges.

SELECTIVE MEMORY is the gathering of works by five artists who, with different poetics and invoices, allow their memories to surface in works that decisively speak of their identities. Carla Chaim, Celina Portella, Marcelo Amorim, Marlene Stamm and Nino thought themes and raised questions that seek to reframe memories in the present time.


Carla, with the video  [Presence] and the work Gruta [Grotto] (oil stick on Japanese paper), provokes our imaginative capacity before the monochrome. From the black that either prints lines, or produces a mass of black, the works awaken the uneasiness, the subliminal strangeness that inhabits the unconscious. Memories of fear and mourning, but also of rebirth and initiation accompany the idea of ​​the cave or mythical cave. For Plato the cave is the world; a place of ignorance, suffering and punishment, where only a single indirect light glares indicating the way forward. Carla’s work tells us about limits and spaces that the body occupies, of positioning, while leaving the spectator free to evaluate their relationship with these issues. Both the intense light and white of Presence and the dense darkness of the Grotto awaken memories of the dynamics and desires of the human being.

Celina, with Maciço 1 and Maciço 3 and works of the series Oco, brings the movement and the image that goes beyond limits, the perfect integration of geometric forms and the human body. If the shapes are black and dense, the body is flexible and engaging, floating in a harmonious dance. The weight of the masses, real in its materiality, dialogues with the imaginary, with the fiction. Everything in Celina’s work speaks of strength and endurance, without, however, losing subtle delicacy. The bodily movement, which suggests elaborate choreographies, exercises lightness and the possibility of fluctuation, exploring the limits between the real and the fictitious. And it is precisely this relationship that permeates the work of the artist. The research of real situations is generating illusions. The photograph, the paint, the walls, the framing, all completing the narrative in perfect harmony.

Marcelo raises questions about the evolution of the role of textbooks and educators over time. From publications from the 1920s to the 1950s, used in literacy processes in Brazilian schools, the artist revisits images and dialogues with the social functions of the school, their importance for the maintenance of social and behavioural patterns. The teachings and worldviews present in these compendiums marked the formation of a generation that learned norms, structures and relations with texts and images presented as absolute truths. From the material found in his research, Marcelo invites us to reflect on the importance of questioning truths and relations of power in the world, to dialogue with the possibility of more comprehensive education. In his works – drawings and sentences written in chalk on slates – we perceive the strength of the images and the power of the academic book in the formation of the student and the social function of the School.

Marlene presents Uma Hora de Luz [An Hour of Light], a series containing 102 watercolours on paper, Empilhamento [Stacking], sculpture in plaster, and A Caixa [The Box], drawing in graphite. The drawings and watercolours by Marlene show a work where the mastery of the technique is allied to the minutia of the method. In One Hour of Light, the artist captures, records and gathers in 102 watercolours the duration of the flame of a match and what remains of it. Were it not for the delicacy of the trace, the precise sensitivity of the record, the repetition could become exhaustive. Marlene, however, turns a burnt match, which can be discarded without further reflection, into something extremely pleasurable to watch, an initial glimpse to the question of ephemerality, use(less)ness, beauty in everyday life. And to think about time and its duration, what matters and what remains when the greater reason no longer exists. If we want to understand Marlene’s work we must first calm our senses, silence voices that insist on looking for reasons and let our mind bring the sweetest memories.

Nino works with the idea of ​​the unusual, the surprising, the opposites that harmonise with each other. When he appropriates images of old books and films, stamping words on them, he seeks the suspense, the intriguing effect that will awaken the attention of the viewer. To amplify meanings that were already comprised in such images, without intending to resignify it, is the proposal of the artist who seeks a new look at everyday life; transforming the real, creating new concepts and bringing to the surface the hidden – the camouflaged. A roll of open mass, an object designed for a particular function, refers to the feminine, to domestic work. But when Nino uses this roll to crush a piece of men’s clothing by pressing and wrapping the black shirt, a new proposal comes up for two objects that are seemingly impossible to connect but fit together harmoniously. The look accustomed to the predictable will have to repair more, perceive more details and subtleties because it is in this space that Nino proposes his works.

The five artists dialogue with their memories, with diverse recollections and poetics, but having in common the search for the feeling of struggle, for the capacity to create practices of plurality, for the defence of coherent and engaged ideas.


Isabel Sanson Portella
March, 2019