Mira Schendel


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Brazilian Kinetic artist. Born in Zurich, she moved with her family to Milan. To escape persecution as a Jew, she left for Sarajevo in 1941, moving to Brazil in 1949. Much of her work was ephemeral. In 1966 she exhibited her Droghinas (‘druglets’ or ‘little nothings’) made of knotted rice paper, at the Museo Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro. They were merely left in a heap on the floor. For Guy Brett they ‘seem to express a passionate search for how little can act as a stimulant to the perception of space’ (Kinetic Art, 1968). Other Droghinas were suspended, gravity playing its part in their formation. Like other Brazilian artists (Oiticica and Lygia Clark), she was engaged in explorations of indeterminacy which bring her close to the anti-form ideas of Robert Morris. Her interest in Concrete poetry led to works in which letters were arranged between sheets of acrylic. When her work was shown at documenta 12 in 2007 it was interpreted in the catalogue by the Brazilian psychoanalyst and cultural critic Suely Rolnik as a reflection of her troubled early life. Moving from country to country through different languages and social universes, ‘she has inhabited the transience of things since her childhood’.

Further Reading

Hayward Gallery, Force Fields: Phases of the Kinetic (2000)

Subjects: Art.

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