Critical Text

The body, the culture: two montages

Avilmar Maia’s work of art uses action figures as the main material. The artist gathers all sorts of miniatures to be disassembled and recombined. They are Surperman, Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse, characters from Toy Story, Barbie dolls, as well as other unnamed figures which, after going through an intense process of montage, merge into the cheap samples of the most famous characters of the cultural industry that can be found around the city. This process is named “Pulsa” by the artist, a word that designates the whole series of artwork with miniatures and takes us immediately to the pulse, in other words, to the vital impetus that these pieces acquire from the destruction and construction to which the artist put them through. Not just that, subsequently a second montage is created. This time the miniatures are placed in mythological scenes where they are put in an acrylic box and renamed with names of characters from Greek, Judeo-Christian and modern literature, this last one having its origin in the other two mentioned. Therewith, to the natural blow, that is, the one of the blood pulsation which gives life to a body, another blast is added, the cultural one, when the reconfiguration of the new miniatures gesture reminds or enacts mythological passages that are the founders of western culture, and that is finally indicated by the works of art captions.
As an example: “Gaia” is the name given to a scene in which Superman is given the head of Minnie – the female version of Mickey Mouse. Therefore, there are two layers of cut and montage. In the first, the miniatures are as if they were put on a surgery table, where they are decapitated. The figure with a male body, which works as a metonymy of western masculinity, gets the head of an anthropomorphic rat – after all it crystallizes on superman, as if it wants his name, the anthropocentrism allied to the sexism, in which the superpower that permits the unrestrained control of nature and the massacre of the Other, finds its home in the manly body with symmetrical proportions.

¹ This text is an excerpt from the article by João Guilherme Dayrell – post-doctorate at the Language and Literature Department of the University of São Paulo – USP; PhD in Literary studies and Comparative Literature at Federal University of Minas Gerais – UFMG; master in Literature at Federal University of Santa Catarina – UFSC.