With “Fountain for the Unknown Protester” Matheus Rocha Pitta continues the experimentations on the boundaries between different mediums and expressions. The work consists in placing a slab marked with negative shapes of plastic bottles and newspaper clippings that shows a protester whose face is veiled by a high pressure water jet shot by the police. In a second moment, the viewers are invited to bring water bottles to be laid down and uncapped in front of the site, all pointing to the same direction, in a way that the liquid drains until the limit and the recipient keeps the dead volume. A large collectively constructed installation is thereby formed by voluntary giving acts and its residues.
The image of a person whose identity is covered by a repressive violent gesture is nevertheless dubious: the effort that represses him fiscally is the same that masks – a strategy used voluntarily by those who protests. In other words, it protects the person from a possible identification and, consequently, from future prosecutions. Even more important, disposes the void – result of the personification impossibility of the subject – at the service of the the emblem, ready to represent an idea and, naturally, anyone who can identify or have sympathy with the situation.
The use of this photograph in a rectangle cement slab, as in the formation process of graves made with few resources – in which newspapers are used to isolate the back of the cast – is the ignition key for a specific activity. This being, the artist’s operation begins at an object that, from its own nature refers to permanency and perpetuity, to bow onto the ephemeral field and, most of all, the unpredictable. By Juxtaposing the image and the action, the management of the same element in two opposite gestures, one of coercive brutality and another one of a simple generosity, the procedure evokes a discourse equally consternated and spirituous.
A monument is raised whose act is a fable of global aspects. In a single roundup we have a picture of a fact that occurred in Turkey, cut out of a German newspaper and exposed in the central region of São Paulo, exactly on a site under which happens to have a river buried under the asphalt, whose name Anhangabaú – from a Tupi source – can be understood as water of harm, probably baptized as such because of historical conflicts. And by taking shape in the symbolic center of the imminent collapse of the country’s water resources, it also naturally aims for new meanings. In a scenario where for many water is lacking even for the basic needs, the artist asks us to jointly water the soil on this land whose condition was foiled by the urbanizing progress.
During the action, the artist creates an amount of sensations that act always in a transforming sense, bearing the future in mind. In the words of Gilles Deleuze: “a monument does not commemorate or celebrate something that happened, but passes onto the future the persistent sensations that embody the event: the constantly renewed suffering of men and women, their re-created protests, their constantly resumed struggle.” Thus scanning the imaginary that gives life to the diligences that inspire it, such as the oratory of the Deceased Correa in Argentina and the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” versions around the world – memorials that are visited, and receive, respectively, donation of water bottles and floral wreaths.
Inscribed in the tissues of an urban way marked by some social heterogeneity and different architectonic layers, – which may only come to be via conflict – we come across a depositary capable of receiving a trivial matter and involve it in new senses. From the bottle depository and water spillage, to the receipt and storage, the grammar of experiences and the bounds that constitute the common occupations are examined. We witness, in the end, a set of ideas that possibly configures new exchanges in the space and time in which we live together.