Jac Leirner


São Paulo, 1961; lives in São Paulo

Jac Leirner collects everyday objects: souvenirs from airplane flights, paper currency, business cards, cigarette packages, artwork labels. Over the years, she accumulates, classifies and organizes these materials, which were previously invisible for being so familiar. Once displaced, however, to a new context, their aesthetic/formal shapes are highlighted, and the artist creates compositions using them as raw material. The reading of the work necessarily requires the recognition of the daily use of these objects, which are transformed into compositions influenced by historical art movements, such as pop art, dadaist collage, São Paulo concretism and minimalism. The transit between the social and artistic contexts is reinforced by the material chosen, whose primary function is to serve as a medium – either for financial exchange, or as part of environments where trips take place.

In the series Os cem [The hundreds] made in the 1980s and 1990s, during Brazil’s period of hyperinflation, Leirner worked with paper currency, back when Brazil’s monetary unit was the cruzeiro and later the cruzado. The play on words in the title [os cem means “the hundreds,” while the homophonic os sem means “those without”] refers to both a number and a lack. The notes bear the history of their circulation, with their faded tones, accumulated dirt and graffiti made by users. In Fase azul (Numbers) [Blue Phase (Numbers)], they were arranged geometrically, resembling a constructive painting. But Leirner’s recurrent aspects of organization, repetition and sequentiality are also present. The composition consists of paper currency with random numbers scribbled by anonymous people, collected by the artist and then obsessively ordered. In Corpus Delicti (1993), the objects reveal the trips that Leirner took: boarding passes and ashtrays pilfered from her seat during those flights. The translation of the Latin title suggests that what we are seeing is the proof of a crime; it is the material affirmation of the possibility of transgression, which has interested the artist since her punk adolescence and later advanced in her art.

Cecília Rocha