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Casa Vazia installation view sculptures
Casa Vazia installation view sculptures

Empty House Casa Vazia, installation view, Luhring Augustine, New York

Pictured from left: Amilcar de Castro, Paulo Monteiro, Marcius Galan

“The house was more than a skin … an organism as alive as our own,” Lygia Clark wrote soon after making the interactive installation “A casa é o corpo: penetração, ovulação, germinação, expulsão” (“The House is the Body: penetration, ovulation, germination, expulsion”) in 1968. Encased inside a giant plastic balloon resembling a womb, the viewer entered a dark interior and brushed against soft surfaces before emerging back into the light. The home, the title of Clark’s work reminds us, acts as another vessel for our bodies.

At the heart of the Neo-Concretist movement, which Clark helped spearhead in Brazil, was the notion that art should be physically experienced. Empty House, Casa Vazia, Luhring Augustine’s current show in Chelsea, mixes Neo-Concrete works with Brazilian contemporary art of a similar sensibility. As co-curator Donald Johnson Montenegro told Hyperallergic, the show borrows its name from Clark’s ideas, who also conceived of her forms in relation to space, or the void. The theme of “emptiness,” or even the imperceptible, likewise recalls what poet Ferreira Gullar said of Neo-Concrete artworks: they’re not objects, but expressions. Neo-Concretism — both a reaction to the “scientific” character of Concrete art and the military coup in 1964 — was, as Gullar put it, born out of “contradiction”: privileging both “mind and body, reason and sensation.”

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