In Aquarius, a film by Kleber Mendonça Filho released in 2016, Sônia Braga plays Clara, the last resident of a building located on the edge of Boa Viagem beach, in Recife. Despite the constant harassment of a construction company that plans to build a larger and more modern condominium there, Clara refuses to sell her property and move. When confronted by her daughter, the character makes it clear that she is not willing to give up the memories that the apartment brings her: the place she shared with her husband, where she raised her children, had fun, cried, was happy and lived sadness. The daughter, who has not lived in the apartment for years, does not seem to understand Clara’s argument – how is it possible to refuse such a generous proposal? But in fact, architecture has this power over people. After some time of living together, it is as if she were part of the family. When witnessing everything that goes on inside, she allows herself to be impregnated with memories, affections and feelings, becoming a silent confidante for the people who occupy her for long enough.
Renato Pera understood this and tried to materialize this aspect of architecture in the work Blood, in which the artist brings out this source of feelings and memories embedded in the architectural space and makes it visible, available to everyone. In his installation, what gives life to architecture, normally in such a discreet way, takes over space and reaches people relentlessly, expelled from the walls, just like a metabolizing being – a creature that bleeds in bright, arterial red. The visual impact caused by color at the limit of saturation is striking, but vision is not the only sense required by the work. Part of the work is an audio that floods the space with the voice of José Mojica Marins dictating, in the most cartoonish style of Zé do Caixão, a recipe for chicken with brown sauce that brings blood back to the agenda.
Presented for the first time at Sesc Santana in 2016, the work gains even more power in the 2020 version shown at auroras, and this is due to two main reasons. The first is linked to the space that the new assembly occupies: a small room, closed on itself, transforming the installation into a true sensory booth, where all the attention and all the stimuli turn to the theme proposed by the artist. In this cabin, not only are sight and hearing required, as mentioned before, but also touch – in the face of extremely smooth material, interspersed with the texture of the drops that protrude from the wall surface – and also the taste, or at least its memory, provoked by the recipe you hear.
The second point is related to the history of the building itself: a property planned and built to be a residence, in which people actually lived and left their memories and affections, but which is now occupied by an art institution. This aspect inaugurates in the work a new layer until then undisclosed: in auroras, Blood appropriates the memories of real people and exposes them as work. This implies a conflict between public and private that is very consistent with the house, which, after metamorphosis, dresses up as an exhibition space – the former refuge that now opens up to the collective. The boards that cover the walls in intense and reflective red reinforce this conflict: they are sometimes tiles, elements very familiar to the domestic environment, but unlikely in an art gallery.
In Blood, Renato Pera shows that architecture is alive and able to bleed. However, unlike the chicken that bleeds to death, architecture bleeds for renovation, for metamorphosis, waiting for the next layer of memories that will adhere indelibly to its surfaces, and then bleed again.