VORTIC: FEMALE VOICES OF LATIN AMERICA COLLECTIVE
Central Galeria, Sao Paulo, Brazil (08/03/2021 – 02/05/2021)
A pioneer of body art and feminism in Brazil during the 1970s, Gretta Sarfaty employs her own body as a territory for experimentation, transforming it into a powerful tool to confront women’s current status in society.
Central Galeria is pleased to present "Enlace", a special selection of works by Gretta Sarfaty created for Vortic’s initiative Female Voices of Latin America. Sarfaty, who is considered a pioneer of body art and feminism in Brazil during the 1970s, presents photographs and paintings in which she employs her own body as a territory for experimentation, transforming it into a powerful tool to confront women’s current status in society.
The exhibition stems from "Enlace", a 1978 performance in which the artist undergoes a symbolic game with a heavy nautical rope. Recently reedited, this is the first time the piece is presented as photograph: "Enlace XIII" (1978-2020) comprises a series of 18 images that suggest sexual tension, but also oppression and violence. In the unfolding narrative, Gretta manipulates and is manipulated. As the rope entanglement describes meandering paths around the artist, her naked body gradually bends, reacts, falls, suffocates and ultimately gives in.
However, the female character finds redemption in "Modification and Appropriation of an Autonomous Identity" (1980-2020). Being also a photo record from a performance, the piece was created in partnership with Elvio Becheroni (1934-2000) and displays a large paper structure imprisoning the artist. She then executes a choreograph that slowly destroys the “bars” from the inside out. In addition to her own release, her act promotes a spatial transformation as the grid’s orthogonal rigidity is replaced with the curvaceous shapes of ripped paper.
The empowerment of the female body finds other strategies throughout the exhibition. Working with photo manipulation, Sarfaty distorts her own image in pieces like "Transformations II - I/II/III" (1976), but she also redesigns it through painting, as in "Transformations VIII" (1977) and "A Woman’s Diary III" (1977). She demonstrates anxiety over a certain kind of femininity here, questioning its stereotypes. By presenting herself as shapeless, abstract or beastly – but, above all, free – Gretta exposes her intimacy in order to create a collective female subjectivity.
Gretta Sarfaty was born in Athens, 1947, and became a Brazilian citizen in 1954, when her family moved to São Paulo. In the 1970s, she took part in Grupo de Vanguarda, in Rio de Janeiro, alongside names such as Cildo Meireles, Artur Barrio and Rubens Gerchman. Still in the 1970s, she attended Escola PanAmericana de Arte, in São Paulo, and was tutored by Ivald Granato and Walter Lewy. She has also attended Escola de Arte Documenta, in 1973, and since then has participated in video and performance exhibitions in various countries, including Italy, France, Belgium and Germany. In the mid 1980s she moved to New York, and then to London. In the late 2010s, she returned to São Paulo, where she currently lives and works.
Throughout these years, Sarfaty’s work has been shown in many institutions around the world, such as: Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Art Institute of Chicago, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon), Instituto Moreira Salles (São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro), MAM-SP (São Paulo). Among her most recent exhibitions, stand-out the solos On Our Empty Spaces Inside (Central Galeria, São Paulo, 2019) and Reconciliations (IAB-SP, São Paulo, 2019), in addition to the group shows Farsa (Sesc Pompeia, São Paulo, 2020) and Histórias da dança (MASP, São Paulo, 2020). Her work integrates major collections such as the ones from: MoMA (New York), Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris), MASP (São Paulo), MAC-USP (São Paulo), among others.