Fundamentos da Pedra [Fundamentals of the Stone] is the new solo exhibition by Lais Myrrha (1974, Belo Horizonte, MG) at Millan. The show presents the new developments in the research of Myrrha, an artist who in 2021 occupied the octagon of the Pinacoteca, in São Paulo, with an in situ project in which she reproduced the geometry of the dome of the Federal Senate in Brasília.
Myrrha elected the "Foundation Stone of Brasília", a small obelisk erected in Planaltina, DF, in the year 1922, as the starting point for Fundamentos da Pedra. Made of reinforced concrete and masonry, the monument was created long before the capital planned by Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa began to be designed. The work that lends its name to the show is a series of six sculptures in which the artist fragments the obelisk, making its structure appear as if they were the stages of its construction. Made of high-density polypropylene and covered in cement, rebar, and fine wood (often illegally traded), the piece functions as allegories of a fiction that makes explicit the discrepancy between the discourses on the country's modernization and its industrial and technological environment, or of the attempt to unite divergent aspects or materials.
"I understood that Brasília’s foundation stone was a representation, a model or architectural model of a generic monument (the obelisk), whose whiteness might only serve to hide the marks left in the concrete by workers’ fingertips and the precarious molds used in its construction", the artist writes in an essay about the exhibition. "I realized that this sad monument smuggled, strangely and silently, economic and social activities that had come from Brazil’s colonial past. It was more than an architectural model. It was almost a rehearsal for what would come next; the construction of Brasília".
Myrrha also presents the new works Penduricalhos, in which the checkered iron frames used for foundations in civil construction become a support to discuss the rational grid of modern cities and in modern art, and the drawings O que se faz com o que se tem – both part of the series Problemas Fundamentais [Fundamental Problems] (2023). Among other new works, the artist also exhibits paintings from the series Case Study: Kama Sutra, in which she questions the accommodation of colonial ideas in relation to the country's modernization efforts.
The group of works in the exhibition are exemplary of Myrrha's dense research on the symbolic, historical, and political aspects of modernist architecture, the city of Brasilia, and the country's modernization project — also visible in projects such as those presented at the 37th Panorama de Arte Brasileira, MAM-SP, at the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, where the artist occupied the pavilion designed by Niemeyer, or in the Projeto Gameleira 1971, at Pivô, in the Copan building, by the same architect.
By displacing and reconfiguring elements of modern architecture, the artist reveals the blind spots of the Brazilian modernization project, demonstrating not only the discrepancy between the discourse and the local technological conditions but also the maintenance of colonial rationale for the implementation of such a plan. In Fundamentos da Pedra, the fictional aspect of the Modernist project is revealed, hence the need to build scenery, apply makeup, and use accessories, trinkets, and decoys.