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Artworks   PT/EN

Tales Frey : What Can a Body Do?

NL 365 (13.03) Dedicada Verve


This week, Verve inaugurates “What Can a Body Do?”, by Tales Frey, the first online exhibition developed exclusively for SP–Arte 365 platform! In response to the challenges of the moment, which led galleries to adopt hybrid models over the past year, Verve, first gallery to represent the artist in Brazil, presents an exhibition that uncovers the last ten years of his production, with critic text by the curator Pollyana Quintella. Tales’ research – which addresses collective and individual issues and the importance of affective encounters between differences, instigating more harmonious relationships between different singularities – is particularly sensitive to the current situation and everything that we lack in this moment of confinement.

Check out below a selection of artworks from the show and collect here!


Above: Tales Frey, “Veste única” (2019). Performance. Porto, Portugal. Photo: Duda Affonso.

by Pollyana Quintella

“A body isn’t just made of flesh and bone. Nor just matter. A mix of machine and instrument, prosthesis and experimentation laboratory, it is, above all, a set of codes, signs, images, technologies, protocols and characteristics. It is a party and a battlefield at the same time. As Paul Preciado teaches us, our body is a socially-constructed text: it is through this always-in-dispute element that political power imposes itself.”

“It is in this direction that Tales Frey’s work is sewed. We are faced with a research interested in challenging the conventions of the hetero-patriarchal biomorphological body in search for a more hybrid organism of elastic matter and multiple and transient forms. It is not uncommon to identify in his works some procedures that desecrate the body through mirrors, duplications and multiplications, temporarily transforming it into a strange and less recognizable device – less guided by stigmas, social standards and pre-established expectations. Tales also plays by confusing the feminine and masculine stamps, suspending a supposed naturalness of the sex/gender contract by proposing experiments that shake conventional signs such as the wedding dress, high heels, tutus and other garments considered “made for women”, or suits and leather shoes, considered a “man thing”. His actions are questioning binarism used as key to read the social body.”

“A radicalization of this gesture leads us to more interactive works, inviting the public to experience situations that demand a true negotiation of differences, placing the work as the democratic ground par excellence. The artist has explored the concept of indument, by setting up devices that work like skin connecting one body to the other. Pieces such as the boxing gloves, clothes, elastic fabrics and pairs of shoes demand that participants establish different agreements between desire and movement, reminding us of a certain relational tradition in Brazilian art, interested in the binomial art/life. I am interested in naming these works as social sculptures, since they tension the individual and the collective; the personal and the political. In these operations, the self-other relationship is not stable, but interchangeable. If there is no possible consensus, the work can be the place of dissent coexistence. In fact, this is perhaps the most latent challenge for all of us in Brazil in 2021.”

“But there is something else. Looking at these works, one may also find that every identity is built by contrast to an otherness, another one from whom we are differentiated. We are only something in relation to a referent, which means that we can be many as our contexts change. The body structure is the composition of its relationship; and the possibility of recognizing identity as a musical chairs game enables us to pursue a subjectivity less subordinated to social constraints. I believe this is where lies the power of Tales Frey’s work: to claim the subject as a fictional construction in order to understand it (and necessarily) as an object as well. It is in this double condition that we’ll be able to exercise ourselves as singular, migrant and transitory platforms – open forms, like the very matter of life.”

Tales Frey (Catanduva-SP, Brazil, 1982) is a transdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Portugal. He carries out works supported by both visual and scenic arts, located at the intersection between performance, video, photography, object, ornament/clothing and instruction. The body and performativity are motives for speculation both in his practical creations and in his academic research. His works are featured permanently in important public collections, such as the Serralves Museum and Museu Bienal de Cerveira, in Portugal; the Puebla Municipal Institute of Art and Culture in Mexico; and in Brazil, the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAM-RJ), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Niterói (MAC-Niterói) and the Museum of Contemporary Art of São Paulo (MAC-USP).