Possibilities of the Object
Experiments in Modern and
Contemporary Brazilian Art
6 March – 25 May 2015
45 Market Street, Edinburgh
Entry to our exhibitions is always free
Learning Through Exhibitions
A resource for teachers and community leaders
All images are installation views of Possibilities of the Object at The Fruitmarket Gallery. Photographs: © Ruth Clark.
Learning Through Exhibitions
A resource for teachers and community leaders
The Learning Through Exhibitions series helps schools and community groups to explore exhibitions before,
during and after a visit to The Fruitmarket Gallery. They can also be used for arts activities at any time
alongside our other resources documenting the exhibition. The series suggests ways to think with
and through art and be inspired to make it. Creative Challenges are open-ended and adaptable to
any age group.
Art forms: sculpture, performance, dance, poetry, storytelling
Themes: politics, scale, display
Activities support Curriculum for Excellence levels 0-4: Expressive Arts, Literacy, Religious and Moral
Education, Social Studies
The Learning Through Exhibitions series can be downloaded from www.fruitmarket.co.uk.
Group visits are free and include an introduction to the exhibition and a copy of the current Learning
Through Exhibitions resource.
Exhibition: Possibilities of the Object:
Experiments in Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art
Curated by Paulo Venancio Filho
Date: 6 March – 25 May 2015
In the 1950s and 1960s, artists in Brazil radically transformed what the object of art could be. It was a
period of intense experimentation, and its effects are still being felt today. For the exhibition at The
Fruitmarket Gallery, curator Paulo Venancio Filho has brought together objects by artists from this period
and contemporary artists still working in this tradition today. The exhibition includes objects by some of the
most famous Brazilian artists - Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Cildo Meireles, Ernesto Neto – and others by artists
whose work has rarely been seen outside Brazil.
Displayed on the floor, on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, on shelves or gathered together on tables
as if still in the studio, these objects invite us to look at art afresh. Made from materials including steel,
wood, and paint; everyday objects such as rubber bands and stockings; organic materials such as bread
and leaves; and vinyl letters and rice paper, some works are colourful and sensual; other work is more
directly political. Playing with ideas around abstraction, figuration, the ready-made and even performance,
the exhibition allows us to think again about what sculpture can be.
Thinking with art
Use the guide below to introduce your group to ideas around the artwork in the exhibition before a visit to
the Gallery or starting your own project.
Collect objects that you find around the home, school, community or from outside e.g. a tin can,•
plastic cup, old clothing, utensils, broken fragments or stones. Look for shapes, colours and items that
catch your interest. Play ‘guess the object’ with some members of your group blindfolded. Display all
the objects as a group and discuss their different properties: colour, function, size, shape and weight.
Discuss the differences between objects, painting and sculpture. •
Research the artists in the exhibition and look at and discuss examples of their work as a group.•
What are the similarities and differences between their work? What do you notice about work made
in different periods?
Find out about the political period in Brazil since the 1950s. How might this context influence artists•
Research some of the approaches to making art that influenced artists’ work in the exhibition:•
geometric abstraction, concretism and neoconcretism, conceptual art, the ready-made, and
performance in relation to objects and sculpture. Share your findings with the group.
Investigate some of terms used to categorise the object during the 1950s and 1960s: ‘non-object’,•
‘specific object’, ‘relational object’, ‘active object’, ‘poem object’, ‘book object’, ‘graphic object’,
‘anxious object.’ What might these terms mean in relation to the object as art?
Look and Respond
The guide below helps you explore the artworks in the exhibition. It can also be used alongside resources
documenting the exhibition.
Look around the exhibition and find objects or materials that are recognisable as things in the•
everyday world. What is their function, and how has it changed?
Make notes on the range of materials used to make artworks in the exhibition. How many can you•
find? How many are everyday, organic, or have been adapted or constructed into new things?
Look for different shapes in the artwork in the exhibition. Do you notice any themes emerging? What•
different ways have similar shapes been used, and what is their effect?
Find objects that are not recognsiable as everyday things. Look out for shape, colour, line and form.•
Look for objects that are simple and ones that are complex. Write a short poem about their meaning
Find objects in the exhibition that move, or that might move, and examples of objects that have both•
positive and negative space, or space inside them. How do these objects differ from large-scale
sculpture, painting or drawing?
Find objects in the exhibition with stories behind them, or objects that suggest stories, and write them•
How does the scale of the artworks in the exhibition affect your encounter with them?•
Look at the range of different ways objects have been displayed, and their placement next to one•
another, and in the space. How does this affect your encounter with them? How close can you get to
them? What difference does it make to be able to see all around a whole object, and not be able
to see its other sides?
Look at the titles of the artworks. How does this change your encounter with them?•
These creative challenges use participants’ own ideas and artistic responses to the exhibition to make
1. Art Object
Collect a range of different everyday materials, e.g. elastic bands, stones, plastic bags, newspaper,•
string, utensils, old clothing that has an interesting texture, food, sticks, leaves. In a group, examine
their different properties and how they feel. Choose found materials that are of interest to you and
combine them to make a new object. Think about texture, colour, weight, and function. What
message do you want to convey about the qualities of the materials or the function of the object?
Design and construct a new small-scale object from scratch. You could use quick and simple•
materials like paper or cardboard, or build your object using wood, metal or plastic. Think about
form, function, and colour. How expressive do you want your object to be? How true to the
properties of the original materials would you like to keep it? Is your object functional, open or
closed? Can it be handled?
What are the new properties of your object? How have the materials changed once they’ve been•
combined or constructed into something new? Is your object light or heavy, fragile or robust?
What are other people’s responses to and associations with your object?•
Left: Carlos Zilio, Fragmentos de paisagem (Landscape fragments), 1974, glass, nails; 12 x 6 cm
Right: Waltércio Caldas, Prato comum com elásticos (Ordinary plate with rubber bands), 1975, plate, rubber bands; 30 x 30 x 30 cm
2. Active Object
Objects can be active because they suggest a use; trigger associations; can be touched or invite touch;
suggest movement or tension, or are kinetic, moving structures. Objects, like painting or sculpture, are
activated in their encounter with the viewer through the response they provoke. The following activities
explore active encounters through the movement of the body and making objects.
Do a dance performance in a group using contact improvisation. Work without music and spread•
around the space, using an interesting or unusual space if possible. One person starts the dance by
making a movement that feels appropriate, making contact with the next person by touching them,
triggering their turn to dance. Continue until everyone in the group has moved and the dance
comes to an end. How does moving freely through the space in response to touch feel? What do
you notice about the shapes or moves that you make? How do different people encounter or
navigate their way through the space? How does the placement or weight of touch influence your
Look at the artworks in the exhibition by Artur Barrio, Sergio Camargo, Lygia Clark, Antonio Dias, Cildo•
Meireles, Ernesto Neto and Hélio Oiticica. Make an object that is mobile, mechanical, suggests a
use, invites touch or can be touched, or has an active balance of tension in its materials or method
of display. Be playful and creative: you could highlight or exaggerate the function of an everyday
object, or tell a story about its use (e.g. the movement of a mop across the floor, a postbox that
could contain many stories). Your object could be a simple paper structure hanging from the ceiling
to a more complex constructed work made from a variety of materials. What associations do others
make about your finished object’s suggested use, tension between materi