Inside the White Cube
10 February – 28 March 2015
White Cube São Paulo
Curated by Fernanda Brenner
‘A scar may not show, but I know it remains within’
João Cabral de Melo Neto (1980)
‘This is the story of a man who is falling from a 50-story building. During the fall he comforts himself by repeating: “So far so good, so far so good, so far... all right.” The important thing is not the fall, it is the landing.’ This anecdote as recounted by a character in Mathieu Kassovitz´s film La Haine (1995), along with reflections on the black boxes carried by aircraft, is the starting point for this exhibition.
The black box is a recording device placed on aircraft that stores data which is only revealed during an investigation following an accident. If the worst happens, the recordings become evidence. Conversely, if the box is not found ˗– as was the case with the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014 – the absence of such evidence returns the mystery to us, taking us back to the dark, unknown seas of the great voyages of discovery.
How can an aircraft with more than two hundred passengers disappear at a time when, such is our faith in technology, it is inconceivable that any object can escape surveillance. In this case, political or metaphysical reasons apart, the absence of the black box and thus the tragedy being held in abeyance, makes room for the inexplicable, the poetic, for the mysterious. As when smoke seen rising into the air may be the result of arson or simply from a bonfire celebrating St John´s day, our inability to access and decipher the contents of the black box leaves us suspended in the ‘unstable moment’ which precedes the event.
The data in the black box is continually overwritten during the course of daily take-offs and landings, as if waiting for a single event – so far so good – the moment when everything changes. At that moment we realise our weakness and that very little is needed for the world to collapse around us. What matters is not the fall...
In the movie The Night by Michelangelo Antonioni (1961), we witness the silent deterioration of the relationship between a couple during a party. The environment is one of celebration, nothing happens to trigger an argument but, at dawn, something changes, as if the two see themselves – both themselves and each other – in a different light. If there was a black box monitoring that relationship, the constantly overwritten information could become evidence. It would be possible to detect and register the twilight of their love and perhaps finally answer the fundamental question posed by Georges Perec, ‘What happens when nothing happens?’
The focus of this exhibition is the second before the landing, the sunset, the unfinished. The participating artists treat that moment each in their own way, questioning imminence and the fragility of structures, working from traces and evidence. They are invited to reflect on permanence and disappearance and the discovery or loss of black boxes along the way.
In this exhibition the work of the younger generation is set alongside that of more established artists, revealing possibilities for dialogue that are unlikely to be seen in another context. Participating artists include Daniel Albuqueque, Miroslaw Balka, Bernardo Glogowski, Kris Martin and Rita Vidal.
Text by Fernanda Brenner