Tom Burr – Parque Lage [Rio de Janeiro]
November – December 2019
Tom Burr
Parque Lage [Rio de Janeiro]
November – December 2019

The Parque Lage School of Visual Arts is pleased to host this exhibition by American artist Tom Burr (United States, 1963) at its Stables. Over the past three decades, Burr has claimed the rigid forms of minimalism and abstract art through an investigation that evokes intimacy often in relation with specific personas – here, Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980). Tom Burr’s sculptures, collages and critical texts reconsider the sculptural tradition by engaging with the presumed boundaries between public and private, questioning notions of neutrality. Through the use of a queer position, Burr has interrogated power dynamics inherent in culture by creating objects and installations that attempt to implicate the body of the viewer. About a year after the opening of the censored exhibition Queermuseu, Hélio-Centricities: Coda extends Parque Lage’s interest in a critical, emancipatory and insubordinate reading of art history.

Parque Lage School of Visual Arts

Installation Views
Artist's text

Eu esbarro em coisas, eu bato contra possibilidades parcialmente vendado; eu ando sonambulo. Eu murmuro em meu sono e depois me respondo. Eu acordo quando não estou dormindo; eu durmo enquanto estou acordado.
Tom Burr, “sem título”, 2011


A obra nasce de apenas um toque na matéria. Quero que a matéria de que é feita a minha obra permaneça tal como é; o que a transforma em expressão é nada mais que um sopro; sopro interior, de plenitude cósmica. Fora disso não há obra. Basta um toque, nada mais.
Hélio Oiticica, in “Aspiro ao grande labirinto”, 1960


Exhibitions are about exposure. They expose spaces, objects and ideas to the intense light and scrutiny of a public’s gaze. Artists are given exposure, granted attention, through the play of exhibition making, while also performing within a web of expectation and desire: to show, to connect, to reveal, to expose. Artists are exposed. I am exposed. And I have fantasies about exposing myself to you, while holding up a mirror to expose you in return.

Hélio-Centricities: Coda was constructed to be an amorous encounter, between the site of the exhibition, Hélio Oiticica, and myself. Through forms of influence and mimicry, and of losing oneself in another – another object, another body, another brain – I wanted to partially collapse what I do into what Oiticica has done, blurring the lines between our selves, exposing our affinities and our distances.

At auroras in São Paulo where the project began, I worked and slept through the month of March in rooms located just above the exhibition space. Formerly a domestic space, there is an intimacy there that persists, and framed the work. There is also a rigidity of containment and protection, and a specific anxiety of inside versus outside the envelope of the house, which also affected my thoughts.

At Parque Lage there is a legacy of private ownership as well, but there is also an architectural fluidity to the site, and I found myself considering the many rooms and corridors formed by the intricate trails and openings in the adjacent forest parkscape – potential spaces to show, to connect, to reveal, to expose — alongside the institutional spaces of the school. I wandered through both, and imagined how bodies transform from one to the other, who it is possible to become, and what particular exposures are at stake.

Tom Burr

About the artist

Tom Burr (New Haven, Connecticut – 1963) works with sculptural and collage-based form, alongside photography and writing. Emerging out of legacies of minimalism, conceptualism, feminist art practice and institutional critique, Burr’s work has reflected this history alongside his own biographical coordinates to consider notions of subjectivity and place, desire and states of control, and shifting queer conditions.

Since the late 1980s Burr has exhibited in numerous venues internationally. After attending the School of Visual Arts and the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York, Burr joined American Fine Arts, Co, where his exhibitions during the 1990s and early 2000s helped to ignite a dialogue around expanded ideas of site-specificity, form, queer subjectivities and current political forces. Solo exhibitions have been presented at Secession, Vienna; the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel; Savannah College of Art and Design Museum, Savannah; and FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, among others. Burr’s work has been included in Skulptur Projekte Münster; Istanbul Biennial; and the Whitney Biennial, among other international survey exhibitions. ‘Tom Burr, Anthology: Writings 1991-2015’ was published by Sternberg Press in 2015. In April 2019, Burr exhibited for the first time in Brazil at Auroras, São Paulo.