Exhibition views
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09/02 – 20/03 2019

The work of Deyson Gilbert is marked by the physical and formal tension to which his pieces are exposed; the way they interact with the spectator; and the presence of two or more elements (objects, graphic signs etc.) joined together by provisional fittings, oscillating points of support or openly impudent set-ups. Through alarming structures suspended by poles or on an angle; the physical presence of solid dark plaques; the display of heavy tools or concussion instruments and; the semantic weight of the complex conceptual play between words, symbols and images, Deyson’s artworks project toward the viewer like unstable bodies: suspended by a fragile balance, always ready to break up. In the realm of the sensible, the attractive formal design-like elegance of these objects/installations coincides with their inherent, intimidating threat.

In the exhibition Questão de Ordem [A Matter of Order], this structural relationship between attraction and threat, enjoyment and intimidation, is featured in an explicit way in objects, titles, and references from the universe of BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism). The omnipresence of these elements summarises the typology of sexual fetishism. This is cleverly applied to a reflection on aesthetic practice: the ambiguous framing of the relationships between domination and submission in the ambit of representation.

Despite being categorical, the rules in BDSM and art are previously established by all involved parties via a mutual agreement that sets the scene or the framework for its materialization. Or rather, they bring into play a system of clauses and laws, with clear organizational precepts, guidelines, and limitations that must be internalized and managed by all participants. From the point of view of order, it is irrelevant if the system’s content is sacrilegious (inverting the sacred-normative content of ‘vanilla’ sex) as long as it is regimented.

The disciplinary order of the management and regulation to which physical pleasure is subjected appears in Adorno’s description of the sexual categories that come in to play in Sade’s writing, “no moment is unused, no body orifice neglected, no function left inactive”. [AF1] The functional administrative belief in the maximization of results — as well as its tyranny over the sensible apparatus — is cynically updated and reiterated each time the meme “if we can get ourselves organized everybody gets laid” is shared online.  

Similar to what happens with sports teams, the dimension of body performance is what matters: the tricks and the looks of participants suggest a more profound (that is, social) character of fetishism. The subject appears as a point of absolute convergence between positive constitution (via the action on the object) and subjection to the norm (in which the subject becomes object). The social tangibility of pleasure is instigated by the adhesion to order.   

In Questão de Ordem, Deyson’s dubious physical game of fitting and unfitting; of fragmentation and alienation in body representation; of textual directives and invectives; of the fairly superficial figuration of so-called ‘non-conventional’ sexual practices reveal — not without irony — the dimension of literality typically associated with minimalism: a sort of pornography of form. The same happens with the use of materials: the slippery movement of his monochromatic leather surfaces simulate the scrolling of LED screens; the incessant buzz of a background engine exposes the compulsive mechanics of feeds, posts, and tweets; the tactile appeal of leather conveys the objectively fetishist sociability in which screens offer themselves to the touch: as if skin to the eyes.

Overlapping the linguistic games and structural equivalences of the intricate formalism involved in both practices (art and BDSM) ­— but also moving beyond them — the ascetic chromatic contrast of the works presented in Questão de Ordem, as well as the inanimate void of dummies and sculptural busts (the inverted equivalent of the ‘bots’ that populate social media), provide the BDSM figuration a visual aggressiveness that stakes out an immediate clash with the political situation. In this sense, those choleric invectives and directives (such as the identification plaque that demands: ‘fold!’), as well as the accurate mismatches and mutilations of the physical matter that compose the artworks, reveal the spectrum of violence that sensibly underpins order: (social) fetishism appears now as torture, violence and, not least, scapegoating.   

– Gustavo Motta

Deyson Gilbert (São José do Egito, Brazil, 1985) lives and works in São Paulo. 
His solo exhibitions include DCVXVI, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (2014); The State of the Art, Galeria Elba Benítez, Madrid (2013).
Additionally, his work has been included in institutional group exhibitions as AI-5 50 ANOS – Ainda não terminou de acabar, Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo (2018); Jogo De Forças, Paço Das Artes, São Paulo (2016); Here There, Qatar Museum – Al Riwaq, Doha (2015); Imagine Brazil, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2013/2014) / Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montreal (2015) / InstitutoTomie Ohtake, São Paulo (2015); 33º Panorama da Arte Brasileira, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo (2013); Mitologias/Mythologies, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2011). 

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