Text by Bernardo Mosqueira for the 3M Art Prize, Sao Paulo, 2018
In archeology, it is often fragments of objects (unfinished, damaged, discontinued) that, by offering more questions, end up causing us to more closely surround the culture in which they originated. Regina Parra’s works, in the same way, although essentially politicized, do not reach us with totalizing dogmas or supposedly complete responses to the political dilemmas of the present. The gaps present in her work are precisely what inspire important questions about our culture and above all about our activity in the face of structures of power, control and oppression.
Selected for the 3M Public Art Prize, Parra presented the work I Must Go On. A large red neon sign, installed in the center of Largo da Batata, exhibiting an excerpt from the novel The Inominable, written by the Irishman Samuel Beckett in the context of post-World War II in 1953. The expression, reflected in passersby, can make us notice how fragile and resistant we are at the same time; vulnerable and powerful. The square is an especially fertile setting for Parra’s work. The artist has been working with issues related to the negotiation of the real for a number of years from the perspective of non-hegemonic groups (such as immigrants and women). The square, being this public space by definition, becomes a conducive environment for its reflections and reverberations. At a time when narratives about Brazil are being disputed with maximum intensity, in this traditional scenario for political manifestations in Sao Paulo, Parra’s work can make us observe our insurgent impulses and our thresholds of resistance.
What makes us tolerate oppression? Where is the critical point of the insurgency? At what point can dissatisfaction transform the immobility of subservience into disobedient creations? How can faith in the insurgent movement bring about a transformation in the structures of power? How will it be possible to build this new system, this new present? We must continue. I can’t go on. I will go on.
Bernardo Mosqueira is a curator and writer. One of the founders of Solar dos Abacaxis, an independent space for art and education.