Fernando Oliva »Historical Time, Daily Life, and Subjectivity
in Cristina Barroso’s Recent Production«

In Cristina Barroso’s installation "60 Seconds in a Lifetime ", impersonality, rationalism, and the awareness of finiteness (notions related to hundreds of symmetrically-arranged time grids) are juxtaposed against metaphors for transcendence and ancestry (photographs showing archaeological sites in Israel, in the region that was once Judea). These symbols of antiquity provide isolated insertions in the cold, logical turmoil of the series, and glaring interruptions that catch the eye, forcing the spectator to pay special attention to the traces of a remote space-time, a collective and archaic memory that cuts across time
and is imbued by it. The expansive background surface, comprised of these small forms, also provides a framework for the images.

Fernando Oliva

The numerical grids, in turn, originally used to provide orientation in the open seas, establish a close relation between time and space. The numbers represent fractions of seconds, which are successively aligned, until they add up to one minute; and the sequence is repeated thousands of times, conveying a cyclical conception of History. It is interesting to note how the natural forms of the landscape express this continuity in thousands of sinuous lines, blurring moments in space (the possibility of planetary localization provided by the grids) and moments in time (the primitive remainder of the mountains, conveying a solid idea of infiniteness). Sometimes the sheets are configured to form the image of an eye, returning the spectator’s gaze.

In the works of the series "Clockwork", it is mundane time that is imposed; and we see photo collages based on the free association of images, taken from the most factual reality possible: that found in the pages of newspapers. Spatial conquests, wars, avalanches, nanotechnology, marches, the collapse of megalopolises, the attack on the World Trade Center … they provide not only a panorama of events in the recent history of humankind but also a sharp incision of layers of time: a series of “time razors” that, when overlaid, create a whirlwind with a dense, vertiginous, kaleidoscopic effect.

Fernando Oliva

By superimposing binocular lenses on each of the photographs, represented by the shadow of two spheres, as though someone were observing the scenes, the artist approaches the spectator, inviting him or her to come closer. Thus, Barroso begins to reconcile the perspectives: her own, making  symbolic use of the tool to approach the image from afar and amplify it, and that of the audience, who is physically close to the work, but can choose to move to an even more privileged viewpoint, searching for details that are missed in a more casual perusal. Another characteristic of the artist’s poetics imposed on the uninterrupted succession of facts is the interferences she achieves with acrylic paint on this rotating historical mosaic, which is definitely baroque in its eloquence and movement. In this way, Clockwork points to other moments of contemporary experience, such as multiplicity, fragmentation, and synchronism.

In "Calendário", a work constantly in progress, it is subjective time's turn to be manifested. Barroso uses black oil paint to add marks, day after day, on a paper calendar. On the small page, as though it were a private journal, she prints her abstract drawings, conveying ancestral shapes: uneven circles, lozenges, and rectangles emerge; but we can also see moons, seeds, and eyes. These elements are placed there as a means of reappropriating chronological time, of imprinting her own stamp on the rationalism and inflexibility of the time grid imposed upon us every day. Once used by Cristina Barroso in her calendar, a form always recurs, as though seeking to reiterate its permanence in the world, and also to reaffirm the artist’s desire to leave her mark on these infinite parallel time lines.

Fernando Oliva

Besides representing an anthology of Cristina Barroso’s recent production, this exhibit promotes the synthesis of a core concern in her work: the conjunction of historical time (the “great History”, subject-matter of the installation "60 Seconds in a Lifetime"), mundane time (related to contemporary facts and to the reality closest to the artist and her time, as in "Clockwork"), and subjective time (reelaborated every day by her poetics but subject to the vicissitudes of both historical and mundane times).

São Paulo, October 2003