Márcia X. [in english]
Text for Berlin 2006 exhibition
Claudia Saldanha

Since the beginning of her artistic activities, Márcia X. chose performance as her main expressive language. She enjoyed recognition only late in her career, and her premature death in 2005, at the age of 45, put an end to a journey that was beginning to accumulate invitations to important exhibits in Brazil and abroad.
Márcia's first appearances in the artistic scene took place in the beginning of the 1980's. Her initial productions reveal the intention of questioning, through humor and estrangement, the role of art and of the artist in society. In 1987, she made an intervention with Alex Hamburger on the stage of Sala Cecília Meireles, an important concert hall in Rio, while John Cage's “Winter Music” was being played. They were both riding tricycles, and the performance was called “Tricyclage”. Cage's composition was renamed by the artists “Musica para 2 velocípedes e pianos” (“Music for two tricycles and pianos”).
The 1990s were decisive in establishing new parameters to the work of Márcia X. Her installations with objects acquired in small shops and at the street sellers belong to this period. At Saara , she searched for clichéd, widely disseminated images and erotic gadgets. Série Fábrica Fallus (“Fallus Factory Series”) – originally called Penys Lane – and the Kaminhas Sutrinhas (“Little Kamasutras”) installation are some examples.
Márcia's main strategy consisted in transforming pornographic objects into children's objects, and children's objects into pornographic objects, thus merging elements to which social conventions and moral codes usually assign antagonistic places.
Márcia X produced her most emblematic works in the beginning of the 2000s. Leaving aside her old method of open and corrosive criticism, she followed a new path which conjugated formal aesthetic research and experimentation. She adopted again performance as her main expressive language and reintroduced her own image in the symbolic field of her works. Dressed in a white nightgown, she employed in Desenhando com Terços (“Drawing with rosaries”) 400 rosaries to draw penises on the floor of a 20-square meter room under the surveying eyes of the audience.
Márcia's late performances present us with a new phase in her career, more spiritual and less ironic. In Alviceleste (“White-celestial”), she dyed herself in Klein Blue ink, a written medium with celestial connotations, thus integrating her terrestrial, material existence to an ethereal, heavenly one.
Alviceleste was performed only once at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, in Rio, in 2003. A video of the event was produced. It has been shown in different venues, sometimes with a reconstruction of the installation itself. It consisted of a room filled with hanging, cuneiform glass containers reminiscent of an alchemist’s laboratory. In this setting, the artist kept filling the containers with blue ink. After some period of time, the ink would spill out from the containers, running down through the artist’s face, her white dress and spreading across the floor. The floor covered with plaster, all soaked in blue ink, displayed stains reminiscent of Ives Klein’s Anthropometries of the Blue Period.
In this period, Márcia X. and her husband, and artist Ricardo Ventura, consolidated a partnership that resulted in many performances carried out in public places. In A Cadeira Careca / La Chaise Chauve (“The bald chair”) , their last and arguably most important performance, they shaved a Le Corbusier chaise longue model nr. B 306 in the open area below the first floor of the Gustavo Capanema Building – a landmark in the transformations that took place in the XXth century in the field of world architecture. Built between 1939 and 1945, it embodies the modernist ideal for the first time applied in a monumental scale.
Beginning in the 1980s, Márcia X.'s performances are affiliated to the experimental language of the 1970s. To a certain degree, she was influenced by such artists as Hélio Oiticica and Tunga in Brazil, and Gina Pane and Ana Medieta abroad – just to mention a few. Nevertheless, these last two – who were also performance artists – used their own bodies to add a feminist perspective to their works. Márcia, on the other hand, never got political, and used her small, fragile image to evoke nurses, nuns, brides, students, good girls acting on the borderline between sleep and religious trance. In those situations, as she herself explained, “common images and actions seem to be contaminated by the logic of miracles, children's stories, dreams and nightmares”.