Secret Lines

May 1, 2015 / by Agnaldo Farias /

Held in one of the rooms of the Galeria Emma Thomas EM 2015, Recalque diferencial (Differential Settlement) encompasses aspects to a certain extent correlated to those of Dimensão encerrada. Derived from an installation made during his stay in London, Perpetual instability, a product of his research on the intended immutability of architectural constructions that adhered to the brutalist agenda, Recalque diferencial transfers the problem to Brazil, where this school was put into practice, especially in the emblematic example provided by the building of the College of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo –FAUUSP, the masterpiece of Vilanova Artigas, founder of the college, and the work of the equally renowned Paulo Mendes da Rocha, winner of the Pritzker prize. A graduate of architecture from PUC of Campinas, Lucas Simões did not go unaffected by this tradition and began speculating on how the products of this branch in Brazil generated monumental works, as opposed to the British branch, where the majority of buildings have either been demolished or are under risk of demolition.

In our country modern architecture worked as a sign of emancipation, ample proof that the future had arrived. Paulo Emilio Sales Gomes, Mario Pedrosa, among many other intellectuals, commented on the particularity of a people that, due to the lack of a solid history, was, as written by the critic from Pernambuco, “condemned to be modern.” The spacious extraction of modern architecture was the proof that the future was no longer on the horizon, but had arrived. And the decanted Brutalism of São Paulo, disseminating “the truth of the material,” leaving the conduits and structural elements exposed, detaching architecture from finishes and other strategies for covering the work process, tried to bring light to the result of the construction work of the building, valuing it, respecting it, making its presence a basis for Ethics to be bound to Aesthetics. Despite the beauty of this project, the political paths of Brazilian society did not develop the same way, and under the truculence and iniquity of the military dictatorship, resulted in the disaster of democratic life dipped in corruption that would prove chronic and astronomical, the dismissal of the second president elected by popular vote and the maintenance of a distribution of wealth which still brings us shame and is far from being overcome.

Recalque diferencial bears the name of a phenomenon in civil construction that consists of the uneven settlement between two elements of the same foundation, an event which causes walls to split, with cracks that run diagonally. The installation consist in remaking the concrete floor of the room set over a “bed” of foam. Therefore, visiting the room contributes to its ruin, if such a term can be used for the unpredictable design of the cracks which are formed from the weight of steps, which are initially surprised by the instability of the floor, a behavior that contrasts with the experience we have with the material, which associates it with solidity and stability, and which eventually evolves into an exercise based on change, but also on the desire to catalyze its destruction.

If it is true, as defended by Paul Klee, that to design is to take a line for a walk, our paths, whether guided or not, random or premeditated, trace lines along houses and streets, inside cities, from one to the other, in excursions to the fields, mountains, beaches, places that are deserted, remote, and even through the sky. This idea was and continues to be worked by various artists, such as Richard Long walking through the landscape, registering his obsessive comings and goings or simply strolling through it; like Rafael Assef who recorded in successive layers over a grid tattooed on his body, always using a sharp blade, the routes/scars described in certain moments of his life. Jorge Macchi, once broke a plate of glass only to later superimpose it over a map of Buenos Aires, where he lives, along the route which he later took. What designs do we draw in our lives and, according to Macchi, who makes us draw them? Thomas de Quincey, speculating about the importance of chance, qualified the phrases heard on the street as a safe sign of what should be done. In Conto de fadas, the Belgian-Mexican Francis Alys went walking at random through the streets of Stockholm, allowing his blue pullover to unravel like a reverse Ariadne who, instead of providing the possibility of Theseus leaving the labyrinth unscathed, used his body to draw its own labyrinth. The allusion to Theseus, passing over Situationalists, to cite only one group of distinguished walkers endowed with the desire to map/trace their wanderings, is derived from the need to identify this activity as atavistic and ancestral comprehension of the body as an entity that produces designs. In order not to commit a grave omission, it would be proper to cite the pathways of the Australian aborigines through the great interior desert of that country/continent as a design generated by these sacred beings and which they must continuously be remade under the risk of ceasing to exist.

With his Recalque diferencial, Lucas proposes a design that results from the weight of steps, in conflict with a floor whose robust concrete does not prevent it from being transformed, absorbing the marks left by those who step upon it, producing the lines which, in general, we barely notice, or ignore, which does not prevent them from producing sentiments.