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Figures of Conversion

31/10 2012 – 24/11 2012

Mendes Wood DM is pleased to present Figures of Conversion, Rio de Janeiro based artist Matheus Rocha Pitta's first solo show at the gallery. The exhibition articulates and disarticulates relationships of consumers to products of consumption in a series of installations and sculptures.

Curator Moacir dos Anjos describes the installation: in a short time and through various projects, Matheus Rocha Pitta has sedimented interests and strategies that allow one to identify, in a body of work that gains density with every new piece, critical statements on the trade mechanisms that govern ordinary life. The artist explores and exposes merchandise – anything produced by human labor and for which there is unequivocal desire to possess – as an index of paradoxes that said exchanges contain or engender. The exhibition revolves around this agenda.

The first piece,  a sculpture entitled 00%, uses the gallery window as a means of designating territory. A strip of soil has been removed and distributed among supermarket plastic bags, the handles of which have been detached and tied into a long chain that acts a piece of string that marks the territory of where a ditch has been newly formed.

In Figures of Conversion, the artist shifts the focus of the merchandise itself to the fact that it is ever changing per its physical or symbolic context. In the series, sets of pictures on the wall and objects arranged on the floor come together to outline narratives of shifting positions and meanings, subverting the expected order in which things in are visually presented. In each group of three images, one depicts a person carrying plastic bags filled with goods that are bought and consumed in everyday life (food, hygiene items, among other products necessary for the reproduction of life) and another, identical in size, sets the time when the bags are deposited on the floor, a situation in which the consumer is detached from what will be consumed. In the third and larger picture of each group, the bags that were filled with groceries are now empty, linked to one another by adhesive tape and thus forming a large container. Inside it, the person who carried the bags is naked and standing on his head.

The relationship of the pictures on the wall with the objects placed on the floor in front of them stresses the artist's intent to disentangle, from the examination of a circuit invented by him, knowledge about the nature of trade that aims at the production and distribution of wealth. Arranged on the floor, the pieces of clothing people worn in the photographs are filled with the groceries that, in the first images of each set, were inside the bags they carried. By extending the narratives photographed to the objects that served as models, Matheus Rocha Pitta converts image into thing and makes people from products. He thus displays, without ever trying to explain it, the idea of indifferent between different (?) that is central to the establishment of a general value of trade between goods. As the American critic Irene Small wrote, maybe it is better to inhabit than to resist to the vertigo of convertibility of goods, to break its unity from inside.

Matheus Rocha Pitta was born in 1983 in Tiradentes, Brazil, he presently lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pitta has recently participated in the group show Rendez Vous, Institut d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, France (2011) and the 29th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2010). He has had the solo exhibitions at Sprovieri, London, UK; Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Fondazione Volume!, Roma, Italy. The artist has been awarded the Premio Itamaraty de Arte Contemporânea.

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