Luz com Trevas - Cabelo

Light with darkness

(expanded cinema)

Lisette Lagnado

Exhibition catalog | 2018

“Light with darkness” can be defined as an anti-exhibition. At first glance, it might correspond to the exuberance of a bazaar saturated with goods. Titled after a song by Cabelo, the exhibition gathers a variety of objects and utensils on moving platforms, vibrant fabrics and small film projections, with the argument of attracting passers-by within an immersive experience. In what way, however, do we aggregate the trance of the population that crosses the ground floor of a commercial building and dilute the veneer that separates the enlightened look from a nation of excluded people?

The entities present in Cabelo’s work for two decades were then summoned: Cobra Coral1, Exu2 and MCs3. The artist took advantage of the gallery’s strategic location at Largo da Carioca, where thousands of people circulate daily. He knows that in times of dystopia, a crowd does not represent the mass of registered workers but, above all, the unemployed, peddlers, beggars, etc. It is an ideal context for those who appropriate images of war and precarious life—hence the relationship with a mystique that involves the marginal poet’s guerilla and the seduction of the movie antihero (Rogério Sganzerla’s Bandido da Luz Vermelha4).

Sofas, rugs and TVs make up “k-roças”5 (“carts”) equipped with “egg-bombs”. These are some of the devices developed by the artist to catalyze manifestations. Cabelo, escorted by guests and accomplices, calls on the wanderers who stray from the path. With his characteristic freestyle, he invokes Rimbaud against Rambo, the rebellion, the magic and the force of poetry against the powers of the Empire, to sing the beauty of the caboclo in public. Without any attachment to the purity of the official art circuits, this “master of ceremonies” has been building an active field able to magnetize the explosive rumor of a rudderless city.


Translator’s notes:

  1. Caboclo Cobra Coral [Coral Snake Caboclo] is a powerful spiritual guide in Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion. “Caboclo” is a person with mixed Indigenous Brazilian and European ancestry.
  2. Exu is an orisha, a spirit who manifests the supreme divinity in Yoruba religion.
  3. MC or Master of Ceremonies, referes here to the hip hop use as a rapper’s prefix.
  4. A film based on the so called Red Light Bandit, a killer, rapist and thief who terrorized São Paulo in the 1960s.
  5. The letter K, pronounced [ka:] in Portuguese, is used as a substitute for the syllable “Ca” found in words like “Carroças” [carts] or “Cabelo”.