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Cildo Meireles at the Tate Modern, Level 4 (London, UK)

Cildo Meireles. Mission/Missions (How to Build Cathedrals) 1987. Daros-Latinamerica © Cildo Meireles. Approximately 600.000 coins, 800 communion wafers, 2000 bones, 80 paving stones and black fabric. 93” x 20’ x 20’. Courtesy Tate Modern

October 14th, 2008 - January 11th, 2009

 The Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles (b. 1948) is widely recognized as one of the leaders in the international development of Conceptual art. Meireles has made some of the most philosophically brilliant, politically telling and aesthetically seductive works in recent art. Since the late 1960s he has created sculptures and installations which involve an element of participation. This exhibition is the first extensive presentation of the artist’s work in the UK. Revealing how he is particularly fascinated by scale, the works range from an object in the form of a small ring to an installation covering 2420 square feet.

Cildo Meireles’ deep interest in the relationship between the sensorial and the cerebral, the body and the mind, is now seen as one of the defining characteristics of the post-war Brazilian avant-garde, out of which Meireles emerged with his early works at the end of the 1960s. He has remained loyal to these origins, and to a political and ethical viewpoint formed outside the so-called cultures of plenty.

For Meireles, space is intimately related to our lives, having connotations which are, in his words, “physical, geometric, historical, psychological, topological and anthropological.” His concerns continually play between the tiny and the vast. For this reason the Tate exhibition adapts the gallery space, concentrating smaller works within existing rooms and opening up the entire area of the Level 4 East galleries to accommodate eight large installations.

Early work in the exhibition include his Mutações Geográficas (Geographical Mutations) and Arte Física (Physical Art) pieces 1969, reflections about distance and borders in relation to the vast land of Brazil reduced to the scale of a box. It also features his Condensado series and his movable constructed corners of domestic rooms, Espaços Virtuais: Cantos (Virtual Spaces: Corners) 1967-8, accompanied by a large selection of related drawings on graph paper. Meireles’ celebrated Inserções em Circuitos Ideologicos (Insertions into Ideological Circuits) 1970, by which he devised a method to disseminate messages of protest under the military dictatorship in Brazil, and his Zero Dollar/Zero Cruzeiro project 1978-84 and 1974-78, are  also included together with smaller-scale philosophical objects dealing with questions of perception such as Obscura Luz (Dark Light) 1982.

Each of Meireles’ installations defines its own space. Some are completely open, some are partially veiled and others are concealed. Among the Tate exhibit installations are Eureka/Blindhotland 1970-75, (from Tate’s Collection), a participatory environment; Através (Through) 1983-9, based on a labyrinth of different kinds of barriers; and the recent Babel 2001, a startling yet complex contemporary take on the mythical tower of the world’s languages. The exhibition ends with Volatíl (Volatile), a multi-sensory environment that plays with our response to danger, real or imagined.

For further information, www.tate.org.uk

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