The unsuspecting visitors arriving at the exhibit “É hora da onça beber água” (Time for the Jaguar to Drink Water) will be met with surprise: upon entering the site-specific installation at the Palácio das Artes in Belo Horizonte, they are surprised by a pool table with extended dimensions (they are 13,3 meters, whereas professional tables follow the standard measurement of 3,10m), and the amplified sound of balls being pocketed repeatedly, even when the room is empty.
The ambiance in the boteco (neighborhood bar), so familiar to the Brazilian, is recognizable, and at the same time contradicted: if on the one hand there’s an excess of billiards, on the other, we are inside an institution. What’s missing is beer and the old shirtless man chalking the poolsticks. Curated jointly by the artist Froiid and Gina Panagiotopoulou, the exhibit is one being considered for the 2020 Décio Noviello Award. In this conversation with C&AL, Froiid talks about the influence of Brazilian games on his production and imagination, as well as about his idea of fun as a possibility for reinventing rules and structures.
C&AL: Soccer and billards are some of the types of sports you practice in your artistic production. Why are games – as action and materiality – so central to your production?
Froiid: Since I was a teenager, I started realizing that we were giving an absurd importance to soccer. When a team would win or lose, people would make fun of each other and feel offended as if it were really something personal. When I became familiar with contemporary Brazilian art, I started to understand the word “game” in the discourse of other artists, like Helio Oiticica, who would cite the game as a concept that transforms the relationship between a spectator and a work of art; or the Situationist International, which also understands the game on the basis of proposals to change the city. We are constantly playing games. One author whom I follow in my research is Johan Huizinga, who talks about a “magic circle” in his book Homo Ludens: when people are playing, reality is suspended, it’s a slice of time where other things can happen.