Leitura: 5 min

Breathe and have fun!

Breathe and have fun!

The idea was to spend one morning at the Bronx, in New York, talking with North-American artist John Ahearn.Right at his studio’s entrance, we felt a different energy. Apologizing for not remembering the keywords to communicate in Portuguese, John greeted us with an outburst of energy. The plans immediately changed. All of the sudden, we were getting ready to make the mold of “three… no, even better, four youths!” Nine years ago, he and artist Rigoberto Torres were in Brumadinho doing the same procedure to compose two pieces of work displayed at Galeria Praça, at Inhotim: Rodoviária de Brumadinho [Brumadinho Bus Station] (2005) e Abre a porta [Open the door] (2006).

The young participants of Laboratório Inhotim freely moved around the artist’s studio, while John, together with his assistant, started preparing the materials for the sculptures and began moving furniture around the space. He put together a scene, changed it, complemented it, oriented, thought, rethought, arranged things. “Almost like a movie director…”, he joked with one of the young boys. We were indeed in one of his artistic compositions, even though we hadn’t started the sculpturing process Ahearn is so well-known for.

Almost 10 years ago, I met Ahearn at Inhotim, in the blue house that was his studio at the time, at the bus station square in Brumadinho, in the streets of Sapé, a runaway-slave community in the region. He recorded and experienced cultural, religious and everyday manifestations of the town.  Afterwards, these experiences became part of his two pieces of work in the Institute’s collection. Each person in the panels was a story, that told the life of the town, the local culture, but which also narrates the strength of gatherings and dialogs. Meeting him again, this time at the Bronx, I remembered the phenomenal human strength in his work.

“Where are the straws to make the molds? They always disappear when we are about to start the process… It’s ok, it’s going to work”, says John. And, in fact, everything worked out just fine. The youngsters observed and participated in the artist’s creative and technical process, learning about the details, observing decisions, thinking about solutions.

John Ahearn prepara os jovens para fazer os moldes. Foto: Alice Dias

John Ahearn prepares the young participants for the molds. Photo: Alice Dias

But, after all, bearing in mind the purpose of these youngsters’ trip – research and be inspired to produce the Street Festival in Brumadinho – what could the work of an artist in his studio teach? The answer might be: every process requires effort. Deciding means to transform, and the power of transformation is one of the artist’s tools. Producing something makes a difference in the world. “Isn’t it touching? We are creating four sculptures, that is, four things that didn’t exist before!”, said John in the middle of the process. For him, the answer could be even simpler: “I ask two things of you today: first, breathe. Second, have fun!”.

O resultado da visita ao ateliê do artista, uma experiência que será lembrada para sempre. Foto: Maria Eugênia Salcedo Repolês

The result of the visit to the artist’s studio, an experience that will be forever reminded. Photo: Maria Eugênia Salcedo Repolês

Click here to learn more about our trip. Laboratório Inhotim is sponsored by Banco Itaú.

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