Marcelo Cidade: Avant-Garde is not Dead

Marcelo Cidade Installation View1 Marcelo Cidade: Avant Garde is not Dead

Marcelo Cidade, Sad Tropicalia, 2010

Marcelo Cidade’s second show at Galeria Vermelho continues his exploration of the city and its post-modern condition through sculptures and installations. The exhibition is titled Avant-Garde is not Dead, a witty assemblage of two word phrases, the French definition of ‘avant-garde’, which refers to the first line of troops before going to war, and ‘is not dead’, referring directly to the commonly used phrase in the punk movement ‘punk is not dead’.

Marcelo Cidade Installation View2 Marcelo Cidade: Avant Garde is not Dead

Marcelo Cidade, Avant-Garde is Not Dead, Installation View

The title of the show is seemingly a mockery of the exportation of avant-gardist ideas from Europe in the early 20th century and sparingly applied in Latin American art, architecture and design. With the arrival of abstraction in the 60′s, and with the exception perhaps of architecture, these modernist ideals were proclaimed dead. Cidade’s show appropriates the works of some of the major icons of the period in Brazil, including Helio Oiticica’s environments and the architecture of Lina Bo Bardi. In his work, Cidade confronts the complex problematics of influence versus authenticity, by associating the tropical to the European, the modernist with the post-modernist.

Here, as in previous works, Cidade uses cement as one of the main constructs of his work. In many Latin American countries, the use of cement for building signaled the advent of the modernist wave of architecture that promised (but failed) to change the city and its urban development. For Sad Tropicalia (2010), Cidade creates cement pillars that used as pots for ferns remind us of the usual decay and abandon that some of these concrete modernist buildings have fallen into. Concrete blocks also serve as the main support for some of his works, such as the photo-installation Surface Model (2010), which is propped up on cement blocks. With these works, Cidade seemingly suggests a revision of these past models that together with more contemporary works allows viewers to better assess their immediate surroundings. Just as the avant-garde is perhaps not dead, I suppose that for a lack of a better word, post-modernism isn’t dead either.

-Carla Acevedo

Marcelo Cidade Installation View3 Marcelo Cidade: Avant Garde is not Dead

Marcelo Cidade, Avant-Garde is Not Dead, Installation View

Marcelo Cidade Installation View4 Marcelo Cidade: Avant Garde is not Dead

Marcelo Cidade, Avant-Garde is Not Dead, Installation View
Images courtesy of Galeria Vermelho

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