Text by Sylvia Werneck:
Always sensitive to socio-environmental causes, Néle Azevedo found herself, during the isolation imposed by the pandemic, prevented from proceeding with her usual artistic and activist actions. Circumstances led her to new experiences motivated by old concerns. She chose her studio as a refuge not knowing how long her stay would last or when it would be possible to have company. The microscopic threat posed a personal and artistic challenge, as Néle’s work takes place mainly in public spaces, and often depends on interactions with passers-by, whether or not they are familiar with art.
Suspended “normalcy” and expanded time made her dwell on the details of the days with more in-depth observation, far beyond the mere physical existence of things – a magnifying glass type of look at the rhythm of a clock with more seconds, minutes, hours, and days. In the kitchen, the first actions of drawing this pandemic territory emerged. The onion peels and eggshells arranged on the walls of the exhibition room formed a kind of residual account of the care with the nourishment of the body and thought. The plants came later, and living with them is of a different order, a dynamic that takes shape according to the growth and specific needs of each species. This development is related to the residency she did in Búzios (BAB), a week of immersion in nature. There, at first, it was the wind that presented itself most emphatically, as a constant tactile and audible presence. Then, the surrounding woods joined the conversation – in that small grove Néle opened her senses to a comprehensive perception of a system we tend to see as separate from us, and that we domesticate to our liking.
The experience served as a catalyst for her Pindorama, an installation in progress composed by plants placed inside the exhibition room of the studio, yet visible from the street through the window on the facade. Several varieties accommodated in wooden crates occupy the space forming different volumes and heights. The arrangement of the boxes is defined according to the adaptation of the plants to the amount of clarity and growth speed. With no pre-established method, the composition is mutable and, to a certain extent, uncontrollable.
It is not about recreating an ideal of nature in a built space, but about observing, learning, and apprehending. Nor is it a mapping of species – for the plants to survive, the artist takes on the task of daily care, but in no way intends to be a botanist. Her thinking is above all artistic, and the handling forms a sculpture, but a sculpture in constant transformation, subject to the whims of chance. A live sculpture that changes according to the development cycle of each plant, the variation of light, temperature, and watering. A sculpture with which it is possible to interact in a time that does not follow a calendar invented to regulate utilitarian life, but passes on its own, resisting, insisting, existing.