Collection

Martha Niklaus (1961 - )

Construção popular (1984)
Popular Construction


height: 88cm
width: 80cm
Sculpture

Donated by Martha Niklaus 1995

84-1995

At first glance, it is easy to see Construção popular as a didactic tool, a cut away model of the building technique pau-a-pique (wattle and daub) so often found in ethnographic museums. This is a means of construction available to the majority of people. The materials, earth and bamboo, are easily come by and essentially free. Even in the age of concrete and steel, with these materials it is possible to build a durable home, whether in the countryside or even in the city. As such Construção popular stands as a unifying symbol of ‘popular’ Brazilian culture. It links people not only through space, but through time. Scratch the surface of Brazil’s elegant coffee fazendas and Baroque churches and they are often held together with pau-a-pique. This technology, known to Portuguese settlers, but also the original inhabitants of Brazil, the fundamental, elementary nature of Construção popular also serves as an emblem of the universality of Brazilian culture. Still, the marginalisation of the majority and their fragile existence is suggested by the protruding ‘wing’ in this piece, which hangs in the mid-air, stunted, with no-where to go. Or perhaps it is breaking away, forging a new future away from the matrix of the Brazilian state, wise to its empty and unfulfilled promise.

Joanne Harwood, 2000

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