The book is the main work
Jacopo Crivelli Visconti

Ana Amorim’s work is intensely personal. And intimate. And invisible.

Invisible, because what we see, what she allows to be exhibited on the walls of a gallery or a museum, is a simulacrum. The real work is kept in books where, for more than three decades, at some point during the evening or late night, Ana draws from memory a map of all her movements throughout the day. It is from these books that her Large Canvases emerged. This is the name the artist gives to works that portray an entire year of her life. These are, in the majority of cases, installations comprising 365 or 366 elements, such as the one which opens this exhibition. Monumental works that take months to reach their conclusion, often more than the twelve months of the year that they refer to, and that require generous spaces in order to be shown and understood. Therefore, we may infer that this is the series that defines her as an artist. But it isn’t: “The book is the main work”, she says.

These little notebooks or black books condense the artist’s thoughts, not only because they are a spontaneous, rapid and a direct portrait of her daily life, but also because they are, and always will be, kept away from circulation, without engaging in all of the effects of the art system. They will remain, in a certain way, in a state of eternal potency, without ever becoming tangible, visible, and, principally, sellable “works”. Ever since the beginning of her trajectory as an artist, Ana has been uncomfortable with the idea of producing a work in order for it to become a commodity, and with playing the role that the majority of artists, consciously or unconsciously, end up playing in the capitalist system. This discomfort led her to refuse to participate in any exhibition that was sponsored by private institutions or that had commercial aims, for over a decade, which resulted in keeping her work invisible, but also made her one of the very few Brazilian artists to enter the field of institutional critique.

This is a field, however, which does not define her, because Ana returns, every day, to her books. It is in this daily practice of drawing for herself, in this silent habit of recording the movements of her day on a sheet that no one will see, that her work transcends the scope of institutional critique, since this, by its very nature, is directed at an audience and demands a debate. The works exhibited here are the side of her production in which Ana Amorim demonstrates total awareness of the urgent need for this debate. Works that stress the paradox of having to produce for a market in which she does not recognize herself, since she knows that it is this same market which objectively generates and nourishes the production, debate, circulation, and visibility of works and ideas. Even those ideas which, in the long term, have the potential to change the system.

These are works that can be light, almost transparent, heavy, hard-fought, violent, or even of a fragile, poetic, moving beauty. Gigantic works alongside minuscule ones, but that condense in a few square centimeters the power of the time that passes. Because it is of time, ultimately, that all of these works speak of. They don’t intend to challenge it, nor seek eternity. On the contrary, the impression is that they themselves dream of being time: ethereal, aware of their transience and impermanence, like the maps drawn on the walls during each day of the installation and during the exhibition itself, one for each day, that will be erased when the exhibition closes. One coat of paint, or two, will be enough to erase everything, nothing will remain.

Ana Amorim’s work is a memento mori.