Basualdo, Carlos, Artforum International
Masterpieces (In Absentia), 1993, seemed at first glance to be a reedition of Regina Silveira's installation In Absentia, presented at the 17th Biennial in Sao Paulo in 1983. On that occasion, the work consisted of the silhouettes of two of Marcel Duchamp's most popular readymades: Bottlerack, 1914, and Bicycle Wheel, 1913. Both shadows, enormous and deformed in a sort of perplexed simulacrum of perspective, extended over the floor of the enclosure, rising vertically against the panels that encircled the room. The bases on which the objects should presumably have stood were empty pedestals, of an immaculate white in violent contrast to the dense darkness of the shadows.
In her recent installation, the entire series of elements with which Silveira has been formulating her work repeated itself: the white empty bases; the disproportionate shadows subjected to a process that goes beyond anamorphosis in its violation of the laws of perspective; the clearly allegorical intention in her choice of objects. In this case, though, the absent works were Man Ray's Gift, 1921, Meret Oppenheim's Object (fur-lined teacup), 1936, and, again, Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel. The implications of choosing these seminal Modernist works are clear; their absence signals the absence of paradigms, an absence art seems to be confronting head-on in the last decade of this century. They are, again, and in this same sense, signs of the certain absence of models in Latin America, and particularly in Brazilian culture, whose Modernity is still a work in progress, endemically in crisis, for which the culture has never been able to formulate a practicable paradigm. …