The Pinacoteca de São Paulo museum, managed by the State of São Paulo Culture and Creative Economy Department, presents from October 26, 2019, to February 16, 2020, the show Adrià Julià: Nem mesmo os mortos sobreviverão [Not Even the Dead Will Survive] — the first solo exhibition of the artist, born in Barcelona in 1974, to be held in Brazil. The show is curated by Fernanda Pitta, the museum’s curator, and artworks will be displayed on the courtyard and in two rooms adjoining the long-term exhibition of Pinacoteca’s collection, on the second floor of the museum building. The works, based on the experiments of the inventor Hercule Florence, who settled in Brazil in the 19th century, call into question the implications of the techniques of replication, printing and authentication that directed the flow of images in the early days of photography.
By means of installation art, cinema, video, photography and printed publications, Adrià Julià builds on the image’s purported documentary objectivity to develop fantasies that expose forgotten or concealed aspects of history. His work builds on the investigation of an assumed obsession of our age for the accurate image, documentation and the perfect copy, as well as on the use of those elements as instruments for controlling bodies, relationships and nature.
For Pinacoteca’s show — supported by Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) through its Spanish Culture Internationalization Program (PICE) under the “Mobility” category, by the Hercule Florence Institute and the Cyrillo Hercules Florence Collection — the artist presents developments of the Copy Money Copy project, that has been in place since 2016 in Brazil to sponsor research on photographer, draftsman, typographer and inventor Hercule Florence (Nice, 1804 – Campinas, 1879).
Julià’s intention has been to investigate the utopia and failure of the experiments with reproducible images carried out by one of the most interesting and remarkable foreign inventors to have settled in Brazil in the 19th century. Florence was one of the lesser-known inventors of photographic processes in the 1830s and was the first one to use the term “photography” to designate printing technologies that use light as their medium.
In his Brazilian period (1824-1879), the Frenchman was able, among other things, to reduce the gradual fading of the image caused by exposure to sunlight, by using gold — and not just silver, as other inventors did — in his first experiments. Due to lack of resources, he had to use his own urine as a fixative for the image.
Following a similar procedure, Julià devised for Room A the artwork Exercise for an Overexposed Landscape (#2). In it, an engine rotates a large-scale photograph whose paper — impregnated with gold and human urine used as a fixative, as Florence had done — was overexposed to ambient light for three days. In the artwork, a system of gears turns the image around in a cycle that completes itself in exactly one day.
Alluding to the early days of photography and of the animated image, the artist thinks through the role of repetition, automatism and reproduction in understanding the universe of images. “Presenting the work in a room adjoining the one dedicated to travelers’ works, the artist remembers the role played by Florence in the narratives about the establishment of Brazilian imagery developed by foreigners in the 19th century, also referring to the implications of the colonizing outlook,” explains curator Fernanda Pitta.
Room B houses the video installation The Exceeding Image, which addresses the story of a photograph taken by Florence and now lost. Taken from his own house and facing the town square and the public jail of Vila de São Carlos (now Campinas), the image – according to the inventor’s own description – reproduces a view of the local prison, watched by its guard and inhabited by its prisoners. The possibility of one of the world’s very first photographs having captured the view of a prison lends symbolic value to this image and serves, for Julià, as a starting point for a fantasy around this event of which no image record is extant and which, therefore, can only be reconstructed by the imagination.
Between the two rooms, on the courtyard, a mechanism prints the image of a hummingbird (taken from the defunct 1-real note) on sheets of paper. The artwork commemorates Florence’s unsuccessful attempt (with his inimitable paper) to develop a technique capable of preventing the counterfeiting of paper money, a problem that plagued all economies which adopted that monetary system during the 19th century, one of which was Brazil.
Both rooms, thought out as the spaces of the inventor (the engine on Room A) and of the image (the prison on Room B), as well as the “distribution” event on the courtyard, call into question the way in which technical devices shape the organization of the flows of images and values in the contemporary world. “It is not by chance that those flows seem to coincide with the early developments of an economy in which value backing grows less and less tangible,” concludes the curator.
This show was only made possible by the support of the Federal Culture Incentives Law.
ABOUT ADRIÀ JULIÀ
Adrià Julià was born in 1974 in Barcelona, Spain, and currently lives and works between Los Angeles, USA, and Bergen, Norway, where he is a professor at Bergen University’s KMD. His most recently solo shows have taken place in institutions such as Miró Foundation, Barcelona; Tabakalera, San Sebastian; Project Art Center, Dublin; Museo Tamayo, Ciudad de Mexico; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; LAXART, Los Angeles; Artists Space, New York; Insa Art Space, Seoul; and Galeria Soledad Lorenzo, Madrid. Julià has taken part in collective shows in institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum, New York; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea; Lyon Biennale, Lyon; Generali Foundation, Vienna; 7ª Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre; Akademie der Künste, Berlin. He also performed at the 29th São Paulo Biennial. Julià was honored by the American Academy (Berlin), the Botín Foundation, the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists, Art Matters, American Center Foundation and “La Caixa” Fellowship Program. He won the Altadis Prize in 2002.
Adrià Julià: Nem mesmo os mortos sobreviverão
Curated by Fernanda Pitta
Opening: October 26, 2019, Saturday, 11 am
Open for visitation: from October 26, 2019, to February 16, 2020
Wednesdays-Mondays, from 10 am to 5:30 pm. Visitors may stay inside until 6 pm.
Pinacoteca de São Paulo:
Pina Luz Building
Praça da Luz 2, São Paulo, SP – Rooms A and B, 2nd story, and courtyard (ground floor)
People under 10 and over 60 are granted free access.
On Saturdays, access to Pina is free for all.