27 February 2024–20 April 2024
How to Disappear
by Anna Mazzei
Part of Alserkal Art Week
How to Disappear marks the conclusion of Ana Mazzei's ongoing project “Love Scene Crime Scene,” a three-part exhibition series centered around the fictional disappearance of a ballerina.
Starts 27 February 2024
Ends 20 April 2024
Venue Green Art Gallery
In this latest installment presented by Green Art Gallery in Dubai, the Brazilian artist deepens the enigma by introducing a collection of bronze sculptures and oil paintings that leave the spectator wanting to play the role of investigator. Her sculptures, featuring half human, half animal creatures placed on raw concrete plinths, take center stage against an entire wall displaying approximately 50 paintings. While it may be tempting to label these creations as evidence, there is nothing evident or obvious about them.
Known for the theatricality of her sculptures, installations, and paintings, Mazzei often brings the force of fiction into her practice. The artist explains that the narrative underpinning her series of exhibitions, including How to Disappear, is a direct reference to the detective stories of Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza and Agatha Christie, as well as contemporary crime series. However, it quickly becomes clear that more than prompting her audience to solve a mystery, Mazzei is asking us to hold on to it.
There are many possible reasons why people, or ballerinas, go missing, whether by a random accident or through an act of violence. But disappearing can also be the result of careful deliberation. Mazzei’s large selection of paintings – near-mystical colorful compositions featuring both geometric and biomorphic forms – is divided into six themes: stage, vases, landscape, cages, beings, and the joker. Together, they form a vocabulary or alphabet of symbols – possibly clues to the larger narratives that have led to the dancer’s disappearance – or a sequence of divination cards put together as an attempt to illustrate how to disappear, if we ever wanted to.
Mazzei’s sculptures always begin with a drawing, and some creatures featured in the exhibition have roots in sketches dating as far back as 2010. Her approach to clay modeling is instinctive; an unsuccessful arm can seamlessly evolve into a wing or a fin. Her otherworldly figures, such as a praying frog, a beaked Pegasus, a horse-protruding hand, an aged Centaur, and a wasp-waisted Icarus, are then cast in bronze and sealed with patina. Standing at the threshold of anthropomorphism – not-quite-human but also not-quite-animal – they appear to gesture towards the impending possibility of full transformation.
Serving as material embodiments of the ballerina’s absence – her personal devotional objects, as referred to by the artist –, the sculptures and paintings featured in How to Disappear examine what it means to vanish or indeed to wish to vanish. By merging her own lyrical voice with that of her fictional character, Ana Mazzei uses artmaking as a way of journeying into somewhere else, as someone else. Rather than revealing a desire to become or remain invisible, her work unveils a yearning to be reborn into something new.
Written by Adriana Francisco