In “O que vive é espesso”, Whatever lives is thick, (a title taken from the poem O cão sem plumas – The dog without feathers, by João Cabral de Melo Neto), Maria Laet presents a new series of works created from her research and reflections. The memory of objects, an expanded notion of time and space, the sensitive neighborhoods of our bodies with the flows of the natural world and the affection for the ephemeral are all things that Maria has been working on and that activate our sensibilities when faced with her work.
At this point of her career, Maria proposes new forms of relating to these flows of the world. In João Cabral’s poem it is the image of the living dog without feathers that activates the metaphor of the Capibaribe River within the poet’s memory. There, in the poem’s texture, that which lives “bothers silence, sleep and the body with life.” This is why whatever lives is thick. As she reads this, Maria appropriates the stanzas by Cabral with her open vision and digs this idea – at the same time diffuse and precise thickness – into her work. That which occupies the space between us and the world, between us and the other, between us and objects, between us and art, silently but densely is thick.This principle is spread throughout every work, showing its presence in the thickness denounced by its weight in stone, in the minimum thickness of two hands clased by the overlapping of the monotype, in the turbid thickness of the strained relationship and always incomplete between words and images.
Despite the new materiality and mediums explored in this exhibition (stones, books, video, slides), Maria maintains her uncommon capacity to slip from the spectacular and the need to maintain a dialogue with large scales of objects and materials. Her work makes another step beyond in her poetic relationship with the world and the elements of nature, articulating with cunning and caring her strengths and weaknesses which are in constant motion.
In place of the dispersion of water on fabrics or wind randomly leading the designer balloon, references present in some of her previous work, Maria now finds a cool place in the strength of the rocks to think aesthetically about the passage of time and the question of the surface. It is in the ingenious touch of the body with the slow memory of stones, it is in the relationship of a certain pictorial idea with the ephemeral aspect of the touch of hands soaked in black ink, it is, in short, a bet on words in the ample and at the same time, ephemeral, space in which we see her script of ideas. Because a life that unfolds into more life is much thicker. And that is what Maria Laet gives us: a life unfolding into more life, her aesthetic life unfolding into the (un)animated life of the world, life whose thickness is the passage of time, the spending of material, the circularity of images, the establishment of a transparency where what prevails is the opacity of our eyes.
In these works there is an invitation to leave aside our feeling that we have time and the body under control and plunge into the Cartesian thick transparency of this life full of hollow spaces inside and out. The thin layer of certainty breaks when we remember that the stone, the hands, the eyes, the body, the world, everything can be seen from other points of view. Maria presents crowded silences full of eloquent imagery. Thicknesses sewn and suggested weakly and therefore perhaps potently. Remember that we are living beyond the practical meaning of things. The Living Dog is thick. The stone carries a century in its smooth and sensuous surface. The stone is thick. Art is still looking for its place in the non-human world. The river, stone, dog, hands, empty, hollow language, the persistence of memory, nothing escapes the lyrical thread of Maria’s vision of life. For it was there, in the simplest gesture, in the driest image, in the irreversible passage of things through the story in which she found life. Right there, where everything that lives is at the same time fleeting and thick.