Blowfly. S f. Bras. Common name for various species of flies that lay eggs on meat. Their eggs, laid in a bunch, are in general whitish; the larvae have the name of bustle bugs. (Aurélio, 1988)
When Regina Silveira launched a blowfly attack in seLecT #46, the coronavirus epidemic had not yet spread across the planet. Between January 28 and February 4, when invited by the magazine to propose a work that described the relationship between art and politics in the contemporary global context, she conceived an occupation of flies: as if the pages configured the succulent meat where they would hatch their brood.
The exhibition of the video Surveillance (2015–2016) – which can be considered a source of the swarm of blowflies currently invading the magazine – starts a new phase of the Artist Video project: the periodic publication on the seLecT website of works in audiovisual language, accompanied by a text.
In these times of confinement, the blowfly monitored and imprisoned by the Surveillance spotlight takes on a dramatic aspect. Although in other times Regina Silveira’s flies circulated freely in the city – projected on building facades, as in Transit (2001), they composed political commentaries (just as is currently being done with activist projections) – now they are constrained to the screens of cell phones and personal computers.
The confined blowfly denounces the magnificent way in which the unfathomable is manifested in the world dominated by COVID-19 and gives the real dimension of the digital surveillance of life today.
The critique of rationality has been operating for decades in Regina Silveira’s interventions. Among its various indoor and outdoor projections, the giant fly of Surveillance stalked the bed of the collector Eva Klabin and haunted her home in 2016. Entitled Insolitus, that intervention in the context of the Respiration Project promoted “an animalization of the house,” according to curator Marcio Doctors.
Insolitus perverted the domestic situation, covering the dining table (Mutant I) and the tea cart (Mutant II) of the Eva Klabin house-museum in Rio de Janeiro with black fur. Metamorphosed into a fly, the furniture has now become a repulsive threat, reflected in the escalation of fear in the face of the pandemic of the century. The horror-film atmosphere was accentuated by the enigmatic presence of Dark Swamp (Nest) (2013), a black egg the size of a person, installed in the middle of the Renaissance Room, accompanied by the soundtrack of Fable II, composed of noise from insects and helicopters.
Insolitus [meaning “uncommon”] refers to the moment we are now living. Fable II is “the dark swamp,” a black hole that expels the forces of nature that challenge certainty. Like the blowflies, other works by Regina Silveira have also taken on new meanings in the light of social isolation. In 2007, Mundus Admirabilis updated biblical, historical and mythical plagues, with plotter-cut adhesive-vinyl giant insects on building facades, following the Rerum Naturae series, composed of images of insect pests applied to white linen towels and porcelain pieces of everyday use. “Yes, these plagues started a long time ago…,” says Regina to seLecT. “Even the Tropel on the facade of the Bienal in 1998 seems linked to this imaginary of wild and violent events,” she says, referring to the intervention carried out on the facade of the 24th Bienal de São Paulo, with plotter-cut animal tracks.
The “nocturnal aspect” of Regina Silveira’s work is pointed out in a review published in seLecT #46. The artist had already written, exactly 13 years ago, in March 2007, about Mundus Admirabilis: “Operating in the hypothesis of their possible transposition to other territories of significance, the revisited plagues function as linear metaphors of the far-more furious plagues that affect us globally today, on several fronts: social, environmental, cultural and ‘civilizing,’ threatening a future that seems increasingly unviable.”
Before the pandemic broke out, Regina was working for the Pandora’s Box project, an intervention she called Inusitados. This work – carried out in the building that houses the collection Ivani and Jorge Yunes, in São Paulo – features mutant objects covered in fur, now called Insólitos. An unprecedented work is being conceived using AR (Augmented Reality) resources. Visualized by mobile app, the action aims to (virtually) set fire to a historic litter that is inside the house and to the four allegories of the arts, installed in the garden.
Through its allusion to the uncommon, Insolitus refers to the contemporary time. When everyday life is perverted by invisible plagues scattered through the air, around the earth, and in hidden corners, let us return to Regina Silveira.
Paula Alzugaray is critic, curator and editor of seLecT
Translation by John Norman
Surveillance, 2015, Regina Silveira
Soundtrack: Rogerio Rochlitz
Animation: Regina Silveira and Rodrigo Barbosa de Souza, Zoom B