C&AL: How did the research for “How to Put Air Into Words” begin and how has this writing interfaced with sculpture and drawing in your first solo exhibition?
Rebeca Carapiá: It started as a radical exercise of imagination that spreads, ruptures, and breaks down the normative and linear word. Since 2017, I’ve had a desire to speak about the dyke body and the body from the ghetto, to find a way to think about the multiplicity of women anchored in writing, in language, in the body and in territory—the place where my conflict begins: why explain the explained? Why narrate and describe difference, if we already exist? How does this body find itself in the gestures and language inside outlying areas? In this reflection and daily exercise with my notebooks, the words twisted, fell apart, and opened up into lines, drawing, iron, and copper—like a piece of writing to talk about difference, without explaining it. In my first solo exhibition, held in October 2020 at Galeria Leme, in São Paulo, we opened up these notebooks and spread out these words full of air like one big text.
C&AL: As a sculptor, one of the reflections you’ve put forward with this work has to do with what you have been calling the deconstruction of feminine geographies. Is it possible to destroy them?
RC: On one of my days in my Rust Diary, I asked: “What can the hand in sculpture give us? I thought just now, people have asked me for so many bodies, here’s mine, a mesh to inhabit a female body”. When I think of the feminine, I see it as an object or like this fine mesh inserted into a domesticated and organized body so that it fits. As I am committed to thinking up, developing, and organizing techniques to destroy this feminine, at the moment I’m working on a kind of practical-immersive course called “Techniques to kill the feminine”. I believe that, by creating radical memories with gestures and actions that are denied to these bodies, we can start to think about the deconstructions of these geographies. I speak of gestures and actions inside and outside spaces denied to the movement and the action of these existences that I intend to reclaim, including spaces such as the traditional historiography of metal sculpture.
C&AL: Another key point of your research concerns the way in which you practice the refusal of figurative representation through abstraction. Why use this strategy and how does it relate to spirituality?
RC: Spirituality is the enchanted living inside everyday life, in the smallest details: it enters through the window, goes out the door and walks among things. Just like the ritual that is inside and not outside: in the exercise of doing, in coexistence, in creation, in prayers, in the messages received. I connect with the invisible walking in the street or striking the hammer on the anvil. There is no one line that separates us, we are spinning inside the same spiral: being, making, forging, and singing, in windstorms and also in the calm. Abstract language here is a tool that, along with what I can see and feel, helps me to create a shape. It is where I am able to organize everything that is scattered around to tell what I know and what I don’t know, while still escaping the literalness that is expected of a body like mine in the world.