States of the Arts


Dupla {AB1107 + VI715}

by Lucia Koch

View an image of the artwork →

A sheet of acrylic casts a coloured shadow, inviting us to peer through a window that does not exist, tricking us through its manipulation of light. The result is so convincing that we are left suppressing the urge to reach out and feel the air beyond it. Yet, if we were to indulge this desire, our hand would meet with a cold, hard wall. Lucia Koch’s Dupla seeks to disturb our perception of the material around us, remaining defiant in the face of spatial expectations, and thriving on the disorientation that it causes the viewer.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou


directed by Petra Costa
Feature film

View a still from the film →

Orange circles swim onto a black screen. We see a road at night, moving with the traffic as the lights of other cars flash before us. Kinetic scenes like this are deployed throughout Elena, capturing the dynamic of a single moment in time, accompanied by Petra Costa’s softly spoken voiceover. We move with the director as she roams the streets of New York, where she has travelled in search of her sister. Family footage and interspersed interviews add to the documentarian approach, evading conventional narrative form and giving a disjointed sense of the siblings’ identities.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

City of God

by Paulo Lins

View the book cover →

City of God presents us with a hostile world: a favela in Rio de Janeiro where violence and drug warfare rule. The novel is structured upon the stories of three men, each afforded one chapter, with their narratives intertwining as they develop. Paulo Lins’ language is punchy and to the point, retaining its vivid vernacular in translation even when some of the slang is lost. Tensions of race, class, and crime are set against a more positive portrayal of Rio as a pulsing, effervescent city. The unembellished writing style ensures that the salient divisions, and the conflict that they foster, hit us hard.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

Miserere Nobis

by Gilberto Gil

View the compilation album cover →

The opening seconds of ‘Miserere Nobis’ mimic the neat resolution of a church organ improvisation, a winking gesture quickly swept aside as Gilberto Gil begins his sermon. The mercy he seeks is not spiritual; all he wants is a linen tablecloth, and bananas and beans on his dinner plate. As the first track of the Panis et Circencis compilation, the song forms an introduction to the Tropicália movement’s creative and political manifesto. Marrying African and South American rhythms with rock and roll, it rallies against the ‘bread and circus’ policies employed by the Brazilian government at the time.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

More to discover

Dupla {AB1107 + VI715}: You can visit Lucia Koch's official website here, and see more of her artworks on the Nara Roesler and Christopher Grimes gallery sites here and here, respectively. Mário Ramiro has written about the artist for BOMB Magazine. You can also watch a conversation between Koch and Ruth Estévez here.

Elena: You can watch the trailer here, listen to the soundtrack here, and read an article on the film by Kristin McCracken for The Huffington Post. Matt Holzman has interviewed Petra Costa, the film's director, for KCRW.

City of God: You can watch a conversation with Paulo Lins by Klaus Thymann for Nowness, and read a review of the novel by Alex Bellos for The Guardian.

Miserere Nobis: You can listen to the song here, and visit the official website of Gilberto Gil here.

Question of the day

Which Brazilian artworks would you recommend, and why?
Let us know on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

The music of Os Mutantes. This band really opened my eyes when I first heard them in my late teens and early twenties. (→)

– Doug Tuttle, musician and former member of MMOSS (via The Brief →)

A Breath of Life, a novel by Clarice Lispector. A mystical meditation on life and death, sanity and spirituality, crafted as a dialogue between an author and his fictional creation. (→)

– John Wadsworth, Silent Frame's Editor-in-Chief (via Patreon →)

Also on Silent Frame