Quando os monstros envelhecem: Flávia Junqueira

15 September - 15 October 2016

Monstrous wonder


Where would the monsters announced by the title of this exhibit be? Even though the photographs and objects assembled here do not make direct references to these creatures, they can be found in spaces that are not just in the imaginary. In our language, such characters serve as metaphors to indicate deformities of physical and moral order, to reveal political atrocities and acts accusing a lack of humanity. Scholars claim that the monsters represent a deviation from the natural order of things, an anomaly, a different form of the same, which escapes and breaks the prevailing harmony. They would be incongruous, a disorder that tends to disproportion, to chaos, but also something which creates surprise, fear or wonder.


It was what the first travelers often came across, when beyond the frontiers of the known world, and knew not how to promptly nominate. By breaking with proportions and symmetries, the monster is placed in evidence. The word derives from the Latin monstrum, something amazing, extraordinary, whose root comes from monere, to show, to indicate, to point out. Therefore, they would be a class of mutants revealing deviation and disproportion as necessary parts of nature to balance the world. What we usually associate with the ugly, the darkness, the formless - or, on the other hand, with the excessively beautiful - would also be wonderful, mirabilia, things that make us see that which the constancy of order hides.


"Like any product of fantasy, the monster results from a game between similarity and difference, since similarity is what makes it recognizable and difference is what gives it the ability to signify the unknown. Thus for a monster to be, it must bear some close resemblance to us and at the same time bear a difference that makes it fearful"*. It is on this point that this exhibit seems to find part of its purpose. The recent production by Flavia Junqueira relates to her previous production, being recognizable by its symbols and its photographic design. But at the same time something disturbs the harmony of this set. There is a state of abandonment of the depicted places that the artist finds or builds, in contrast to the traces left behind by its now invisible occupants. The figure of the female character, who appears in a strange relationship with a doll of monstrous proportions, oscillates between the position of one who dominates the anomalous and one who lies in shock before it, in an empty space, in a place that is nowhere. 


This environment contrasts with other photographed places filled with objects and representations of the animal world, but devoid of human presence. "Here you leave the present and enter the world of the past, of tomorrow and of fantasy", reads one of the metal plates with words in relief. This statement seems to suggest that our obsession to constantly live in an up-to-date time should be abandoned for an experience as spectators of images of baffling desolation. The photograph itself resembles an anomaly by the strangeness of the places and things within it presented as parts of the known world, but which seem somehow altered by the construction chosen by the artist, by the "magic of naturalized technique."


In an even more abysmal tone than the previous one, another sign reproduces the phrase that Dante would have found at the entrance of his journey through hell. We are definitely not in a party ambiance. The party is over. The fairy tale and children's paradise characters, with their indelible smile, are no longer grounds for laughter. They have now been given the role to also accompany us at the time of death, which is also the time of their own burial. Our monsters also grow old and one day will part. But will they really?


Mario Ramiro


[*] Raúl Doria. ¿Para qué los monstruos? Elementos, N. 22, Vol. 3, 1994, pp. 13-19.