Nara Roesler São Paulo is pleased to present Agora: Right Now, a solo show by Berna Reale and curated by Claudia Calirman. The show opens to the public on May 28 and remains on view until July 23, 2022. Reale, known for her performance practice of forceful political discourse, presents a new body of work, including photographs, installations and, for the first time, paintings.
Agora (Now) is a word that communicates urgency, calling our attention to current events, thus, the choice of the title of Reale's third solo exhibition at Nara Roesler aims to emphasize the idea of the present.
Berna Reale seeks in the world of fashion, through its colors and advertising, ways to communicate how contemporary media deals with violence. Just as the catwalks and magazines dictate trends that will be over shortly afterwards, our media moves from one atrocity to another, churning out impactful images which are endlessly consumed by the public. On the other hand, the show aims to remind us that the time of violence is always the present, given that, at every moment, somewhere in the world, someone is a victim of some form of aggression.
Observing this, Reale created a series of photographs that could easily have been in fashion publications and billboards, if it weren't for the peculiar accessories they seem to advertise, such as handcuffs, in Cabeças raspadas(2022) and electronic anklets in Ligadas (2022) and Acorda Alice (2022). Despite being images constructed by the artist, Reale does not aim to celebrate or aestheticize these abominable actions, precisely because she understands the risks of trivializing violence.
In fact, to unveil its effects, to point out the executioners and to highlight the ways in which violence is fetishized and speculated on culturally, the artist often uses allegory, building images whose strength lies precisely in the opening of possible meanings and in the scope with which they can deal with the topic of violence.
In one of the gallery's rooms, there are six oil paintings on metal plates, bearing representations of violated bodies. These paintings by Reale are, in the artist's words, "about reality without being realistic". Reale also works as a criminal expert at the Centro de Perícias Científicas Renato Chaves, in Belém and therefore, she sees violence often. However, in her practice she recreates it in a way that highlights the ambiguity of our relationship to these images. As the titles of the works point out - Olhe para mim (Look at Me), Ela disse não (She Said No), and Desistir (Give Up), to name a few - these paintings instill fascination and horror, desire and abjection.
Reale also presents an installation that, like O tema da festa (2015), plays with the ambiguity between celebration and violence. The artist constructs a table, on which aluminum cakes, of different sizes and shapes are arranged. The stainless surface of the metal, however, is marked by perforations that create representations of knives, creating aggressive scratches and indentations that unavoidably modify the material.
In particular, Reale focuses on topics that deeply matter to her: particularly violence against society’s marginalized identities such as femicide, transphobia and homophobia; however, her work is not restricted to these issues. What she wants most is to remove us from our state of indifference, brought about by the trivialization of the media. Her provocative images have the power to disturb and accompany us, showing the urgency of dealing with the politics of present day violence. As curator Claudia Calirman summarizes, “By drawing our focus towards various forms of social injustice, Berna Reale's work has a clear aim. By creating portrayals of extreme situations, her work is playful at the same time that it borders on the absurd, causing astonishment and bewilderment. The time portrayed by Reale in her exhibition Agora: Right Now is the violence-infused present that is everywhere, desecrating and ravaging the here and now.”