Opening February 6th, 6pm to 9pm
Galerie Division is pleased to present the Brazilian, Brooklyn-based artist, Juliana Cerqueira Leite’s first solo presentation in Montreal.
Juliana Cerqueira Leite reformulates physical presences and absences in the world and body, negating the mere reassertion of subjects and their environments through acts of pivotal transformation. Resulting from an intrinsic choreography between the body’s force and the materials it presses against, the artist’s sculptures collide interior spaces with externalized physical gestures. These captured shades of motion engender an archaeology of movement and time in a scale that is expressively human, yet located within a language that sediments the memory of cultural making. Cerqueira Leite centers this narrative around the female body, noting the limits and potential for this corporeal form to convey stories dating back to antiquity.
The exhibition arcs from untold past to storied future; addressing the ruination of cultures brought forth from colonialist infrastructure. Taking as its framework the violent erasure of societies spurred by imaginings of betterment, it focuses on two escapist sanctuaries from our world as it reaches entropy. The first is seemingly bygone: the Indigenous Amazonian cultures of Brazil that have revealed themselves to be denser, richer, and more widespread than once imagined (historians now believe this society, at the time of its discovery, was comparable in size to Paris). A plethora of artifacts have emerged in this region due to erosion from climate change, disclosing the true breadth of a culture hitherto only measured by the societies that survived its destruction. The second colonial respite is only a shared fantasy: as Elon Musk famously proposed, Mars could be the next fertile venture for a human colony whose home planet is no longer suitable.
Culminating from her research on ancient Amazonian funerary urns discovered in contemporary Brazil, Cerqueira Leite presents a series of human-scaled vessels created through a deft casting process of the artist’s body. The anthropomorphism of the hydrocal sculptures relates to the primary objects of the artist’s study which dually functioned as containers and portals, like machines meant to hold the body of the deceased while processing its loss, and, sometimes animal, morphing into the afterlife. Like these urns, Cerqueira Leite’s sculptures are tightly wound between preservation and transmutation. They spill out from the artist’s body, seemingly evincing, something like, their original form, as they continue to lose, gather and modulate the information that enabled their creation. One can make out parts of the body, the artist’s breasts and fingers, for example, but these parts are cannibalized onto themselves as they are caught outside of fixed singular perspective; they disintegrate in the casting process which was paradoxically meant to conserve them.
Juliana Cerqueira Leite (Brazil, 1981) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She studied at Chelsea College of Art in London and holds a MFA in sculpture from Slade School of Fine Art (University College London). Cerqueira Leite was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2019) and Furla Art Prize at the 5th Moscow International Young Art Biennial (2016), as well as the Fellowship from A.I.R Gallery (2010-2011) and the Kenneth Armitage Sculpture Prize (2006). Her work has been exhibited at Sculpture Center (New York), Instituto Tomie Ohtake (Brazil), the Venice Biennale (Antarctic Pavilion), the Vancouver Biennale, the Cass Sculpture Foundation (West Sussex), The Approach (London) and Art Public (Art Basel, Miami).