by Germano Dushá
What voice have the barriers, the flowerbeds, sidewalks and railings that surround us? How can a hack seen in any corner move us? What forces addresses us as we walk through the city? The work of Gustavo Ferro at all times shakes the understandings we have of these issues. Beyond what we can see with a conditioned look, or enunciate with known references, the artist seeks to formulate unusual propositions from ordinary objects and phenomena, reconfiguring the dynamics of what we perceive.
As the title "Ground Control" indicates, this exhibition leans over the efforts of building and surveillance of the public space. Developed as of research and experience in large metropolitan areas in Europe and South America, it brings together drives, flexes and juxtapositions that play with the effects - physical and psychological - that bricks, concrete and irons produces in the urban tissue. It scrutinizes the nature of these forces aimed to ensure security and isolation; and tensions the limit of contact possibilities that we can engage with these vectors.
In the video "Untitled (bus)", recorded during an artist residency in Quito, Ecuador, we watch a scene whose absurdity is absorbed by the flow of common activities. It is about the passage of some buses that, when taking a right in a narrow street (next to where the artist was hosted), fastidiously comes over the sidewalk - already deformed, as if modified to allow the crowded machines to proceed. After leading us in the situation from every angle – in a raw and direct manner, a mixture of distress and mood - the artist intervenes with a stone that blocks the way. The metaphor is placed at the service of compelling practical implications, which frustrates the expectation and demand a reaction from those who sees it. In response to the obstruction, a person comes down, takes the rock and places it across the street. Soon the vehicle sneaks up and follows its route. There is no apparent inquiries or major concerns. For those watching, however, the problems involving an anaesthetized sensitive tissue is underlined, as well as the improvisations and indifference characteristic to certain regions marked by confusion and precariousness.
In the series "Multiverse", which combines techniques of drawing and printmaking, Gustavo uses a procedure divided into phases. First, he catalogs, by photography, several obstacles encountered in the urban setting. Later he selects certain objects to be drawn with dry pastel and charcoal. Next, he begins a process of transference among the papers, creating consecutive monotypes that overlap the reunited figures. The result is a vibration of bodies accelerated by a speed that produces and disassembles, in a composition that never completes itself before the viewer. We witness a chaotic mass; and lose notions of scale and function to assign new meanings to the attempts to regulate and shape the city uses.
In another work, produced with the help of collaborators in sawmills, the artist wholly manufactures a containment barrier module in order to sculpt it in an odd layout. By appropriating a known form with the purpose of corrupting it, he creates a configuration that is born under the sign of incorrectness. It highlights, thus, the conflict of resolutions impregnated in our social imaginary and the vigor of gestures that risk to transform original meanings. In this case, the anomaly may also be understood as an objection to the very violence represented by the initial object - always used to curtail and prevent. There remains a tool - usual but never familiar - in a condition that nullifies its customary use to dispose of an unprecedented way.
Finally, near the entry door of the building that hosts the show, there is a "picket" wheelbarrow - name given by the artist to small structures made in a homemade manner to fulfill tasks of marking, fencing or interdiction. Since 2012, Gustavo collects them based on a standard guided by the size and the cylindrical base. In finding one of these helpless street furnishings, he subtracts it. When there is a declared owner or guardian, he engages them in dialogue and proposes an exchange, offering a new item with the same characteristics as the previous one, so he may take it away with him. If positive, he later returns to the site to replace it. Here, the material serves as a record of an ongoing project, and index of future occurrences of trade and displacement. Likewise, it brings out the repertoire of a spontaneous visual language that permeates the informal arrangements scattered in the streets.
As a critical tool for thinking about the role of these control elements that guide our behavior, each work presents different provisions of commonly known experiments. By examining the intentions of repression that we impose and to which we are submitted on a daily basis, they propose other relations with what is programmed to keep apart without in fact being noticed. In this sense, what is visible to us is changed; the organization of our affections is reprogrammed; a time that is not the busy everyday is suggested; the place of the other and the intricacies of how to recognize, architect and record the space that surrounds us collectively is rethought
.(Text written for the exhibition Ground Control at Sé Gallery, São Paulo, 2016)