Humboldt is a recognized cultural publication that promotes exchanges between Germany and Latin America, as well as Spain and Portugal. It addresses current debates on topics regarding the cultural and intellectual lives on both sides of the Atlantic, through the reflections of the authors from the Iberian world and German speakers, as well as other international voices.
Brazilian artists Carlos Asp and Gerson Reichert chose the pages of this magazine to show their works. If, ordinarily, drawings or paintings have as their starting point the virginal white colour of a piece of paper or of a prepared canvas, their work comes out despite the surface. It is like admitting the impossibility of a tabula rasa, of a ground zero. The experience of the impossibility of restarting from nothing is due to life being a sequence of discontinuous incisions on bodies: the metaphor of a blank page is ruined by the picture of a rash invading a face that was once clear. What remains for us to do is perhaps to make use of this and that; of beings, of things and of the memory of the world.
Carlos Asp + Gerson Reichert: S/t (Da Série Diálogos Ampliados), 2009
Humboldt the name of the German explorer who is now invaded: it became a place for inserting lines and sayings by disparate under-the-Equator Asp and Reichert. In general, magazines are ordered spaces for discourses on the world, accompanied by images that reinforce the writing and used strictly for illustration. But it is exactly the opposite that the intervention by those artists proposes: they decide to commit to what was already said, the finite scope of culture. From the problems graphic arts had solved digitally (by using implicit concepts such as organization of information, flow of text, image quality), what turns up is the craftsmanship of the dermatographic pencil, the boldness of oil paint on the page of a magazine.
Carlos Asp and Gerson Reichert coincide on Humboldt. Verb and subject are ambiguous: on the one hand, there is the double impact caused by the repercussion of gestures, the intervention on the finished printed form. On the other, the authorship signature then doubles and is made on other people's mappings. Another example attests this pitch: "Caixa de Ressonância" ("Ressonance Box"), from 2009. Both invade pre-existing surfaces, each one on its own way, placing their work on over the other, insisting on the noise.
Carlos Asp + Gerson Reichert: S/t (From the Series Expanded Dialogues), 2010
Another coincidence marks out the meeting of both artists on the pages of traditional Humboldt, on the occasion of their work in issue number 91 titled "Uma nova geodésia dos territórios barrocos" ("A new geodesy of baroque territories"). Perhaps because baroque is the perfect image for thinking about the work of the duo.
In this issue there is a text signed by Vittoria Borsó which comes in handy: "The critical force of baroque comes from the subversive power of hybrid connections. It is frictions (the way Barthes understands them) of foreign languages which disrupt the hegemony of the language of the conqueror. The tradition, that is, the transposition of European classical culture to the ‘New World' thus implies not only creation of hybrid spaces, but also mobility of the topography, instability of the body, transformation of the order."
This seems to be what Carlos Asp and Gerson Reichert mean to convey: subverting pages of a magazine from the "Old World," drawing unstable bodies on them, disorganizing the so-called practicality of design, spoiling printed surfaces, giving us a hybrid territory, full of gestures and colours, for which the baroque era is the reference but also a de-identification - as soon as the text lies underground, it no longer makes precise assertions about the baroque or the world.
* photos: Juliana Lima