Questions of the contemporary world
— Alberto Saraiva

Foreword - orun
— Raquel Valadares

— Mari Fraga, Paula Scamparini

Paula Scamparini: in a continuous blind spot and restart
— Clarissa Diniz

ship on canvas   
— Fernanda Lopes

Restorations, returns and beginnings – critical iconography in Paula Scamparini
— Maria de Fátima Lambert

oca-oxalá: made in Portugal
— Lourenço Egreja, Clarisse Meirelles

— Heloísa Meireles Gesteira, Paula Scamparini

— Fernanda Lopes

About hoods and light in the work of Paula Scamparini
— Sônia Salcedo del Castillo

the 23 nights
— Sônia Salcedo del Castillo

in the south, turtels do not age

October, 2018

︎ projetc

The installation, developed for the show together with Austrian artist Sabine Groschup, contrasts the cultures of the two artists by deal- ing with environmental issues in the so-called South, more specifically in Brazil, one of the artists‘ home countries.

The installation’s format directly refers to the in- dustrial disaster that occurred in Minas Gerais on 5th November 2015, seriously affecting Rio Doce (Sweet River), one of the five main rivers in the country, causing an enormous ecological dam- age. An iron ore tailings dam built by Samarco Mineração S.A. (a joint venture between English, Australian and Brazilian companies) failed and 62 million m3 of iron waste flooded villages, with toxic brown mudflows polluting the river and making their way to the Atlantic sea.

Brazil can still be considered an important supplier of raw material for the global industry, and, unfortunately, the current government (with more emphasis since the presidential impeach- ment of Dilma Roussef in 2015/16) is leading the country more and more in this direction. Many other dams in Brazil have also been denounced as unsafe and not in accordance with regulations.

Airton Krenak, the political leader of an indige- nous group whose lands were destroyed by themud floods, questions privately: “Would it be a reason for me to kill someone?” Rio Doce has been considered dead, many local spe- cies are considered extinct, and environment experts affirm that the impact on the region and the sea will last at least a hundred years.

In Vienna the installation called In The South, Turtles Do Not Age uses the sand of a beach called Copacagrana, in reference to the well-known neighbourhood and beach called Copacabana, in Rio de Janeiro, where Scamparini lives. Some Rio de Janeiro’ waters are not fit for humans to bathe in because of water pollution. The artists try to imagine what would happen if the mud flood from Rio Doce got to the North, from under the earth, and spilled into its waters. Krenak relates that a little girl from his village plunged into the river and discovered that be- neath the thick layer of mud there is a living river of pure water that still drains into the sea.

Dr. Berthold Ecker

curator of Contemporary Art in the VIENNA Museum
The exhibition does not actually have a title, it has the motto "Groschup invites Scamparini" and otherwise the invitation card does not really reveal much. One could say at first glance about this setting: No titles but turtles, because these animals are the first eye-catching common ground between the artists. Both have considerable oeuvres, in which the current works logically fit, both work conceptually, emphasize the enigmatic moment and often their works have a strong poetic trait. In the sensational exhibition at the Künstlerhaus in Vienna titled "Idol" - a group exhibition on women's images from the prehistoric and contemporary times of 2014/15, the two appeared together for the first time.

And now this joint installation with which the artists work on the entire volume of the MAG 3, the windows are made blind, one is even mirrored, so that the room is fully felt as a volume. Paula Scamparini works on the ground, Sabine Groschup in the air, one could also speak of two installations that do not unite but communicate with each other.

Let's start with Scamparini's ground work "In the south, turtles do not age".

1.5 tons of sand, borrowed from the Copa Kagrana, form a reference to the beach of Rio de Janeiro where Scamparini lives. However, it's not about topography in the narrower sense, but it's about a specific place. The story told here is about brutal exploitation of nature and its blatant abuse with consequences that will be painfully felt for many decades to come. Brazil, with its vast resources of raw materials as well as still functioning nature, continues to be a vital reservoir for the world's bio and economic system. Unfortunately, these two systems are still in conflict and balanced harmonization seems a long way off. In this conflict lies the essence of the statement and also the reason why the turtles do not grow old in Paula's south.

The case relates to a huge environmental catastrophe when a dam for a very toxic reservoir at Bento Rodrigues broke and millions of cubic meters of toxic sludge reached the Rio Doce, one of the country's main rivers. Poisoned mud masses tore entire villages with them and all the madness finally poured out forming a huge alluvial cone, into the Atlantic Ocean. As the mud dried, the carcasses of the animals became visible, including turtles. The installation plays on this moment. Her outward appearance and materiality bring her close to performative installations in the landscape by the Cuban artist Ana Mendieta, who died very early and took on a similarly combative attitude in her feminist orientation as Scamparini.

What happened after the disaster? The responsible company Samarco mineracao was sentenced to high claims payments and then had the impudence to dismiss the employees or to stop the salary payments, allegedly to pay the penalty.

Scamparini now asks the question about the relationship between landscape and culture. How does an environment affect people's origins and behaviors? What consequences would such a crime have for those responsible in the North? One would be inclined to exclude such things for the North, but the world has become small, the same system covers the entire planet. In view of a similar incident in West Hungary in 2010 during the colonial dam break, we can only see gradual differences. Even then, a dam had broken toxic sewage sludge spilled over large areas and made permanently uninhabitable, even the local responsible tried to talk out. The significant difference lies in the size of the country and in the suffering of the indigenous population, which has lost its livelihood and the basis of its entire culture. Where is the resistance, how can it work and does it function in the current state of our democracies?

Scamparinis turtles do not grow old because they are killed. In different cultures, the great turtle is something like the foundation of the world. It is said that the world is carried by an elephant that stands on a turtle, but whoever wears the turtle is not known. And even Vishnu in one of his incarnations is a turtle, as he supports the world as it threatens to overthrow. Consequently, whoever kills the turtle, plunges the world by undermining its foundation. The question of ecology and sustainability, however, goes unheard.

Such a mythological reference is rather unusual in Central European everyday life. As a child, I often played with my brother in my aunt's garden, where there was a whole group of turtles. One of them was so big that we took two of us on their tank and then waited for the good turtle to march with us. Otherwise, there were turtles in the zoo and as a pet with friends from school. Even it did not turn my family into a turtle, it remained an open desire.

Different in the family of Sabine Groschup. There were three pieces, one for each of the sisters with different destinies. Only one was older and still exists, her name is Petra and now lives with Sabine's mother. With a life span as long as turtles can have, Petra gradually became a member of the family. Sabine Groschup's "Hanging Soul Garden" installation hangs from the ceiling, attached to hooks that were already in place from previous installations. Their basic materials are usually those that also have a history of use, which are worn and damaged and thus assume its own character that goes beyond the thingness. In the injury and its healing lies a narration, which also reminds of the work of Kader Attia, which puts the patching and summarizing, as it did with us earlier the rattle-ties with the injury of humans in the war parallel and thus also a life for the things - thus also a right to and a strength for the healing zuspricht. Of course, this is how Bruno Latour's "Parliament of Things" comes into play, as is often the case at present in Viennese art.

Groschup reveals this idiosyncratic life by linking the socially committed bond between the thing and its meaning and threading it into a new, subjectively charged life. Thus, old, occasionally intimate garments to image and text carriers for their poetic statements, drawn teeth tell a song of their own, the fabric figure - the material from which she is sewn, comes from the possession of a prima donna - floats like a ghost or a guardian The scene and bells were filled with wooden spoons hanging from the ceiling as if to ward off evil and summon good. All these works of art come from another life, they seem inspired and walk in their hanging garden. The hanging soul garden is a bit reminiscent of the work of Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger, not to mention the "falling garden" in San Stae at the 2003 Venice Biennale, but that may just be an association that starts from the basic situation.

Let's return to the turtles, a topic that first of all recalls Luigi Pirandello's wonderful story "The Fear of Happiness". It's about a turtle who tries her life to overcome the steps from the terrace into the dining room and fails. As soon as she is lifted to the first level by the narrator's helping hand, she is frightened and falls down again, just as she - carried into the room - rumbles immediately back onto the terrace, not immediately afterwards with her pursuit to start up. That's the whole plot. So you might think that's a stupid animal, or one that suffers from agony of success. And considering that the turtle is a mythological foundation of the world, that would be really stupid. One could also be of the opinion that it is stupid, in view of the dominant world gear, in which man is a stupid incomprehensible being to make such thoughts in general.

Paula's dream of the Indigenous Girl, submerged under the mud of the poisoned Rio Doce, and finding pure, still-flowing water underneath, faces Sabine's nightmare by knocking out her teeth. While one point to hope for the better, the latter points to illness and inner fears. Let's hope in the city of Siegmund Freud that under the pavement is really the beach and the teeth remain healthy in the mouth.