Of doubt, of aims, and of urgency
In the productivity logic which we see ourselves inserted in, the defunctionalization is a vector in the opposite direction. Working in deceleration - or inquiring about the credible merits of effectiveness - is a way of rethinking the rhythms and values that guide us.
Alice Ricci, a São Paulo artist, has been moving towards that direction. She clings more to the idleness than to the haste, she is more redundant than concise and thus tries to subvert working mechanics and established goals, reflecting on the notion of production itself. Starting from procedures related to the game and the pastime, Alice establishes new temporalities and suggests the possibility of power in the effort in vain.
In “Anotações”, work shown in the beginning of 2015 (and that already generated other works also related to the same question), the artist counted waiting times. While facing large queues, waiting for the bus or waiting for calls, she measured the time that was passing. she took notes freely on sheets of paper, these numerical notes were assuming organic forms, detached and not calculated. Thus, more than an attempt at ordering, the graphic translation of these temporal intervals took on a body of its own, spontaneous and unpremeditated - something close to its own nature. What does writing down the time entail? Where does this accounting take us? Is it to seek the consciousness of its inevitable passage or to empty it, since the way it is being lived is nothing more than the repetitive bureaucracy of a record with no function? In Annotations, Alice proposes the measure of the immeasurable as from an effort that does not produce any result. The spelling of a time in which nothing happens allows its own release and emancipation.
In her series "Crucigramas" the work is given from magazines of pastime. These are images digitally designed so that color, shape, and content seem to have been defined during the original process of configuring the graphic design of those pieces. But, in this series, there are two distinct qualities. There are forms whose chromatic filling reveals, timidly, a hidden gesture. On the crossword puzzle pages, Alice interferes with the printed material. subtly, almost imperceptibly, but still evident, one perceives the presence of a participatory hand, contrasting the slow and manual effort, characteristic of the cautious action of a craftsmanship, with the pragmatic, serial, industrial procedure. One is confounded with the other. They overlap each other in such a way that we are not sure whether any of them have gained sovereignty.
Alice's "Crucigramas" may also take us back to the 1960s (when mass-media universe, which was part of daily life, started being present in the art-object) or to the concrete atmosphere that hovered in Brazil a decade earlier. Geometry and orthogonality as a notorious interest and the figure-background spatial organizations denounce an approximation with the aesthetic thinking of concretism. But while this historical concretism, tied to the modern premise of progress, struggled in the name of a functional rationality whose aim was to improve and repair the society, Alice's contemporary geometry seeks inoperability. it esthetizes itself without any transformative or reformist pretension, also throwing light on the role of form and aesthetics in current times.
Her interest in the imaginary of games reviews the dynamics of competition and its purposes. It emphasizes the notion of goal and effort, but it intuits a latent ambiguity that lies between productive time and boredom itself since its practice points us more towards a search for idleness than for its escape.
In its own temporal logic, this boredom could be understood as a critical position of refusal to the banality of the modus operandi: as an authentic way of seeking the new. It then appears as the non-acceptance to anything, becoming a device of time dilation and measurement of its own speed.
The precision of the "Crucigramas" fills or the graphic detailing of "Anotações" or "Pré-desenhos" show the contrast between slow processes and the immediacy of the outside world. Aim and monotony tension each other and suggest us the revision of our own rhythms. Does defunctionalization lead to obsolescence? Or were the inefficiencies of things and processes in the world a factor already given according to the logic we impose upon ourselves? Launching more questions than hypotheses, Alice's work is organized from these ambivalences, rebutting in those who see it doubts that are shrouded in the precision of its visual formality. As a victim and proponent at the same time, Alice Ricci focuses her attention on the idle workmanships, examining them from within and revealing processes that differ from the normativity. By dissent, it allows us to analyze the conventions and proposes a time in suspension - a possible auditory temporality of the urgencies and of assured aims.
written by Paola Fabres (Porto Alegre, 1989) is a PhD student in History, Theory and Art Criticism (ECA-USP). She is a researcher, critic and independent curator. Paola is also the founder and editor of the digital magazine Arte ConTexto.