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Song for my Hands

Curated by Marta Mestre

MON - Óscar Niemeyer Museum 

Biennal of Curitiba, Brazil

Digital photo


Carmen incorporates a two-way street: the hand-instrument maker and also the hand-image that translates and materializes a certain imaginary of Brazilian popular culture. Taking the figure of Carmen Miranda, and with her a set of narratives of the modern identity that reverberan still in the process of understanding the Brazilian culture and that comprise words like fantasy, disguise, beauty, exuberance, makeup or color, the hand is simultaneously thing and thought, resulting in an almost bodily transmutation exercise into a new existential and physical condition.

Júlia Coelho


Song for my Hands


In 1968, Richard Serra shot a series of short films on a super-8 camera including “Hand Catching Lead”. On a fixed plan, Serra’s hand opens and closes while trying to grab pieces of lead, releasing them immediately when he is successful, thus reproducing a syncopated and intermittent progress of the film. Under the pretext of an experiment of hands in action, Serra’s film is a forceful reflection over the sculptural work in particular and on the nature of the artistic gesture in general. Drifting from the idea of retinal art, where the eye controls the perception of matter, a historical trait of art up to Modernism, “Hand Catching Lead” evidences the haptic dimension of the image while dismissing the purpose of the gesture.


“Song for my Hands” gathers 12 artists from around the world who explore distinctive artistic practices related to art and technique. In special regard to the abstract thinking and its relation to manual labour. These artists are instigate by the fluxes and transformations of materials, by the knowledge acquired through “doing” or the political performance and the ethics of gesture.   

Emerging within the combination of the exposed works is the common ground of “manual thinking” and the idea of “process”. Sustaining a purposeful diversity of technical means, the exposition withholds an omnipresent tactile dimension as the critical element, extending its contribution to the elaboration of a historical subject of senses.


In the midst of rigorous thoughts and undisciplined imagination, “Song for my Hands” deepens the notion of conceptual handicraft and intuitive industry, understood here as a counterpoint to the logic of industrial production and mass consumption.

An inevitable acceleration of the world that affects the conditions of our perception.

Marta Mestre

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