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03 May 2011

Roberto Cabot at the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro

Internal view of the Machine, 2011

Roberto Cabot - The Search for the Aleph
Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro


Vernissage: Thursday, May 5th, from 7 PM to 10 PM - On show from May 6th to June 26th 2011 - Closes on Mondays Catalogue with texts by Luiz Camillo Osório, Ligia Canongia, Nicolas Bourriaud and Brigitte Schenk To view images produced by the installations: or Catalogue will be presented during the vernissage - Curator: Luiz Camillo Osório

Rebecca Lockwood

Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro
Av. Infante Dom Henrique 85
20021-140 - Rio de Janeiro

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Beginning May 5, 2011, for invited guests, and opening to the public the following day, the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro, MAM Rio, is presenting the exhibition Roberto Cabot – The Search for the Aleph, with paintings, drawings, digital media, sculptures, architecture and literature, presented on part of the third floor, above the museum's Monumental Space. Although he does not consider himself as 'a technological artist', Cabot makes use of digital media and Internet to compose his search for the aleph, which 'in the literature of Jorge Luis Borges is a gigantic instant, an object where all of space-time converges visibly at a single point of intersection without any overlap: the total simultaneity of everything'.

Set up as a large installation, the exhibition will feature paintings, drawings and sculptures as well as current versions of installations previously presented in Brazil and abroad. For the artist, the presence of the spectator 'is part of the installations'. In Estudo para aleph [Study for Aleph, 2006/2011], a camera captures the successive movements of the spectator and projects them onto a screen; these same images go into a database that the spectator can later access on Internet at the site of MAM Rio or that of the exhibition .

Mediamorphose, 2002/2011], initially presented at the 25th Bienal de São Paulo – receiving more than 1 million hits at the installation's Internet site – presents the viewer with a question concerning perspective. A distorted, incomprehensible painting is captured by a camera placed in a corner, and its image – together with that of the spectator observing it – is projected with its correct perspective in a room at the side.

'The visitor can thus recover his/her image on the web, or observe what is occurring anywhere in the exhibition, from anywhere in the world in real time. The work is expanded beyond the exhibition space, worldwide, by way of Internet', the artist explains. 'The exhibition bursts the limits of its own physical space and is broadcast through the multiplying systems, operating as a network of implicit and infinite 'mirrors' that interlink apparently distant and disconnected perspectives, landscapes and points of view. At the end of his/her path through the exhibition space, the visitor winds up as part of the work itself'. The photos can also be downloaded, shared and printed. He warns that any person who 'ventures into this exhibition space will be photographed, and this photo will be stored in a database, accessible to everyone on Internet. Therefore, upon entering the exhibition, the visitor is giving his/her consent to be photographed and for that photo to be included in the search for the aleph project'.

The third installation, aleph III (2009/2011), shown in 2009 at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, in Berlin, will capture images of various cities of the world, in real time, available through the Internet, projected in space in real time. In the German capital, the images were streamed in from cities considered 'fringe' from the point of view of the great centres, such as Berlin itself. In 2010, Cabot realized another version of this work in the city of Souza, in the state of Paraíba, Brazil, which inverted this logic by projecting, at the venue, images of important centres from around the world.

Cabot will also present a new sculpture entitled Máquina [Machine, 2004-2011], which he has researched since 2003, composed in the form of a 'totem, a column' and made up of mirrors, different transparent materials such as glass building blocks, paintings, wood, and a video monitor. In this wooden structure, he brings together various images such as a painting of his studio and key publications for reflections, such as a book about Velásquez, 'in a blend of Apollo 11 aesthetics with gambiarra [Brazilian-style makeshift contrivance]'.

The Search for the Aleph will also feature paintings, nine of which were made this year or in 2010; three from the series in which he investigated Hélio Oiticica's meta-schemes, from 2004 and 2006; and another three artworks of the 1990s. Drawings, from 2010, cap off the exhibition.

The catalogue for Search for the Aleph will represent an entirely new system of a personalized catalogue, which 'represents an innovation to the art scene worldwide', states Cabot, who chose the Singular Digital company to produce this 'on demand' model, in which the public determines which images it wants to see. In this system, the catalogue printed by the publisher will conform to the demand of the person ordering it, and the individualized publication will be delivered in three days. It is important to emphasize that the spectator will need to note down the time and date that he or she entered and left the exhibition, preferably the time of passing by the cameras. The visitor can purchase the individualized catalogue by registering at and following the instructions.

The catalogue texts will be written by critics Ligia Canongia and Nicolas Bourriaud, friends of the artist who have followed his work for years.

'Perhaps the central question in Roberto Cabot's oeuvre is illusionism. Not illusionism in the Renaissance sense, linked with problems of representation, but rather that which directly alludes to the traps and volatility of perception', writes Ligia Canongia. What is interesting about this work, the critic observes, is its use of illusion as a tool that spurs and kindles the imagination. 'Cabot understands the world like a crystal, whose countless facets reverberate countless realities, which are neither autonomous or split off from the rest, but rather intrinsic parts of a single whole', Ligia Canongia observes. 'Jorge Luis Borges's aleph serves as the perfect metaphor of this crystal'.

Roberto Cabot states that 'the virtual and the real are exchanging roles'. 'The virtual is becoming increasingly real, and the real increasingly virtual'. He says he does not want 'the aesthetics of technology'. 'It is a more formal relation. I work with technology, but I am not technological. I study the interstices, the being that lies in the in-between'. He began his research with works involving technology in 1999, when he was the only Brazilian to take part in the historical show Net-Condition held at the Centre for Art and Media (ZKM), in the German city of Karlsruhe, curated by Peter Weibel and considered a milestone in terms of the insertion of technology in artworks. In 2009, he was nominated for the Sergio Motta Prize for Art and Technology.

In 2005 he was conferred a KunstFonds fellowship. In 2006 he won the competition for the commission to a monumental public artwork to be installed at the Luxembourg Philharmonic Concert Hall, designed by architect Christian de Portzamparc.

Cabot will participate in the exhibition The Global Contemporary at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, and at the Moscow Biennial 2011.