It were but madness now t’impart the skill of specular stone | video | undated
Sônia Andrade took these lines from the poem “Undertaking” by John Donne (1572-1631). The idea of the mirror was charged with significance at the time, and it comprises the body of work whose syntax was produced by the artist over “a fine causal field of visuality,” in the words of Fernando Cochiaralle. Andrade’s interest arose from the poem and seems to be based on the construction of fictional territory in which the concept of mirroring translates in a range of expressive procedures straining the boundaries between visibility and invisibility. Operating on the interfaces between image and technological media, Andrade uses a series of masks preceding the finalization of the projected image.
She problematizes representation of the universe through video, moving towards the capture of light. This, in turn, assumes leading role in creating a field of metaphors that articulates image “between” virtual and real.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, studied under Anna Bella Geiger at MAM RJ, 1973 – 1974. Showed work at the exhibition Prospectiva’74 (MAC USP, São Paulo) and the 14th São Paulo International Biennial (1977). She was one of the most active videoart makers in the first period, and took part in almost all the leading exhibitions. She also executed the Situações Negativas installation at MAM RJ in 1984 and held a solo exhibition of paradoxical objects called Hydragrammas at Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro (1993) and MAC/USP, São Paulo (1994). Andrade showed work at the Philadelphia (USA) videoart exhibition in 1974, which is believed to have been the first public screening of Brazilian videos. She executed almost a short-duration dozen experiments that may be included among the most mature of her generation. At times we have the artist’s face completely deformed by nylon thread, sometimes she inflicts small mutilations on herself, slashing hair on her body with a scissors, or fixes her own hand to a table with nails and wires. Her works show latent self-inflicted violence, half real and half fictitious, through which Andrade discusses the tenuous boundaries between madness and lucidity that characterize the creative act. Another aspect of her work is critical intervention in television itself, covering both its structural and ideological aspects. Morte do Horror (1981), for example, is a metalinguistic reflection on the act of televisual enunciation itself. In its very brief six episodes, which recall audiovisual haikus, the television screen starts by showing us the frame of another television screen inside the first one. During these episodes, the screen is successively emptied of its usual content, until all that is left is an infinite number of receivers within other receivers – as in the mise en abyme device used in heraldry.