Marlon de Azambuja / “Edicto” series at Art Dubai

Textos / Texts
03/2015 / Sabrina Amrani, Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE
[Published in art-agenda]

“Architecture is a thing of art, a phenomenon of the emotions, which is outside and beyond the constructive questions.”

“The purpose of all construction is to make things hold together, of architecture to move us.”
–Le Corbusier, Vers Une Architecture (1923)

In the last ten years, Marlon de Azambuja has drawn, written and read the urban space, either literally—acting on the city itself—or metaphorically—producing architectural images or constructive strategies. His action as an artist narrows in on a given environment and examines it, in an attempt at rationalization based on modernist concepts, both architectural language and symbolism of power. But at the same time, he lives and experiences the city through an intuitive process. With the accumulation of memories, references, readings and personal experiences, Azambuja allows the rigid lines associated with Modernism to flow and infiltrate. Within the tension created by these two poles, the artist uses various materials (concrete, glass, ink, plastics, and words themselves), and places them in direct opposition or inverts their functions. This operation enhances their symbolic capacity, connecting him with Brazilian Concrete poetry, the legacy of Conceptual Art and site-specific tradition.

The project presented by Sabrina Amrani Gallery at Art Dubai 2015, creates a unique environment conceived as a master plan for a new city. The main axis is determined by three pieces from the “Edicto” series. The title refers to the set of norms published in 1951 by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, which laid the foundation for the construction of the city of Chandigarh, India. This edict begins with the declaration of human scale and harmonious connection with nature as guiding principles for the creation of a functional capital city. This functionality was not only practical but also symbolic as reflected in the design of government buildings. Azambuja joins the tradition of the written word and the constructive thinking—lest we forget that as an assertion of power, the Assyrians would inscribe their own edicts within the foundations of their great palaces like in Nineveh—in what could be called an “architecture of thought.”

Azambuja’s ”edicts” collect manifestos and phrases linked to architectural theory in both three- and two-dimensional forms: a trio of large towers made of individual glass panes, some with painted letters, stacked upon white bases; as also seen in the watercolors that serve as mathematical studies for the phrased structures. The third proposal in the booth reinforces the poetic dimension of the project: a group of concrete bulbs, with the exception of one functioning glass lightbulb, strung on a single electric cable, as a metaphor for the ability to generate ideas.

The entire set, with the use of inverted materials, the playing between delicacy and crudeness, looks to activate and empower certain readings, giving keypoints to spark reflection. Azambuja, in returning to Felix Gonzalez-Torres and his idea that “all culture happens in language,” “illuminates” and “transparentizes” the word into a confusing structure, where the supposed clarity of ideas require an effort from the viewer to search for the precise angle in order to find the construction of thought. But more interesting than this composition edified by a rational deployment of tactics that show a single, logical view, is the distortion of perspective. The physical embodiment of these phrases lose us in their impossible compositions, in the multiplication of character sources and the combination of words. The gaze that wants to rationalize—just as the artist does on his surroundings—always holds myriad impossibilities and the need to combine ideas for a reading on the contemporary world.