Laura Lima's exhibition How to Eat the Sun and the Moon is at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg until April 24
Laura Lima's exhibition How to Eat the Sun and the Moon is at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg until April 24
Image: Supplied

Strutting through the dimly lit entryway to the main square of the Goodman Gallery, having been confronted with the words, How to Eat the Sun and The Moon, I’m greeted by the intensity of the silence in the foyer. This was encountering Laura Lima, the Brazilian artist whose body of work is exhibited for the first time in SA.

Lima’s eccentric textile pieces reminded me of an online curated talk of Rio De Janeiro’s inaugural Favela Immersive Festival, in August 2021. It featured artist and designer extraordinaire Bibi Seck, who spoke candidly to a presence of Brazilian and African diasporic youth, about the role of developing collaborative practices as one of the ways to ensure rigorous economic participation of artisans, who often go unseen.

I reflected on this nugget of wisdom for over a week, thinking through the exhibition and the piercing silence in the gallery. The silence before entry was understandable. It is Venice season; people are busy and possibly under pressure. But the silence in between the viewing was persistent.

The show grips with an unrelenting silence. A unique tussle between chaos and calm, a reflection of Lima’s process and practice. In 2023, Lima showcased a body of work at MACBA in Barcelona, in Spain, titled Bale Literal, loosely translated as Literal Ballet, an ongoing project that she first exhibited in June 2019.

Michelle Farias Sommer and Victor Gorgulho described it as “an unprecedented work that connects the two buildings of the gallery directly at the crossroads through an ingenious contraption. The project, the result of her research with architecture and living beings, is a living organism that mobilizes dozens of people orchestrated by the artist”.

Searching for the exhibition online, one is again confronted with a rendering of works that are built or created with community in mind. But also, an unwavering and overwhelming anticipation of something to come, to take shape. It is also an invitation to understand the element of suspension in Lima’s work. How important it is to have objects floating within a space or museum or at a crossroad. 

Laura Lima
Laura Lima
Image: Maria Baigur

The works at the Goodman Gallery float as well. With differing shapes and sizes, each textile is hung up with two or three rods, appearing from the ceiling. The weight of each is carried by thin “strings”, a puppetry of sorts and maybe a continuation of Bale Literal’s vocabulary.

This natural sensibility to engage stories from her own upbringing and merge them with those of others, stringing and knotting together memory, identity and narratives that are reflected in nature disrupts much of what the viewer comes into the space with. The ruptures and gaps appearing and disappearing in the pieces force one to silence the noise in their minds and think through what it would mean to eat the sun and the moon and be surprised by that feeling.  

Born in Rio De Janeiro, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, the work resembles a rugged, yet sophisticated process tied together with a wild impulse. A network of crossroads held up by rods to render the gallery space, unwanted yet filled with an energy that is deeply connected to the passing of time and the practice of self-reflection. 

Laura Lima's How to Eat the Sun and The Moon exhibition is on at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg until April 24.     

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