GUSTAVO VON HA
"I believe it is important rethinking and redefining the role of the artist in today's world as I understand we work in an environment where reality has been replaced by narratives and images"
In the production of Gustavo von Ha (Presidente Prudente, 1977), the truth is always in a sleeping state. From the early work with mirrors, drawings - prints that emulate other artists’ gestures, to the nonexistent movie trailers; image production mechanisms, intellectual property and the boundaries between reality and fiction are constantly problematized in his work.
In the series of fake trailers released by his HEIST FILMS ENTERTAINMENT company, created in 2011, the projects circulation strategy overflows the conventional art space, being shown at theatre and internet rooms - makes it continually crossing a border running from the believable to the absolutely false. These videos blends real and fictional protagonists, professional and amateur actors, beautiful raw scenes, giving the works a “C” movie aspect.
Among the common-places of cinema and cliché scenes of Hollywood films that do not seem to complete, sometimes in a poorly pronounced english, are realized strong criticism to the apparent globalization of cultural industry, that far from being cannibalistic (The Manifesto Antropófago*), naturalizes North Americans film patterns and imagery. This is evident when our perception recognizes the codes given by the artist, and goes on to the question whether in fact what we see is real. This attempt of the movies being what they are not reflects a main key in the matter of Von Ha, which also permeates the facsimiles of mirrored copies made from Tarsila do Amaral and Leonilson’ originals: how to work the categories originality and authenticity in a world permeated by images. For the artist, today, "the objects, artistic or not, are inserted into a synchronous web in which distinctions between 'technology and culture', 'original and copy,' or 'reality and representation' seem to have lost their sense, leading to categories such as 'simulacra and show'".
* The Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto in English) was published in 1928 by the Brazilian poet and polemicist Oswald de Andrade. The essay was translated to English in 1991 by Leslie Bary; this is the most widely used version. The "Manifesto" has often been interpreted as an essay and it is said that its argument is that Brazil's history of "cannibalizing" other cultures is its greatest strength, while playing on the modernists' primitivist interest in cannibalism as an alleged tribal rite. Cannibalism becomes a way for Brazil to assert itself against European post-colonial cultural domination. The Manifesto's iconic line is "Tupi or not Tupi: that is the question." The line is simultaneously a celebration of the Tupi, who practiced certain forms of ritual cannibalism (as detailed in the 16th century writings of André Thévet, Hans Staden, and Jean de Léry), and a metaphorical instance of cannibalism: it eats Shakespeare.
art critic and Harper’s Bazaar Art editor