Isaac Julien: A Marvellous Entanglement

Isaac Julien: A Marvellous Entanglement

Until 27 July at Victoria Miro Gallery in London, Isaac Julien presents a nine screen installation reflecting on the work of the influential modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992). A Marvellous Entanglement portrays the architect at different stages of life. 

Starring Fernando Montenegro and Fernanda Torres and shot in seven locations designed by Bo Bardi (SESC Pompéia, MASP and the Teatro Oficina in São Paulo; the Bahia Museum of Modern Art, the Coaty Restaurant and the Gergório de Matos theatre in Salvador), A Marvellous Entanglement blends together Bo Bardi’s life story, writings and designs, and contributions from those who knew her, to meditate on her life and achievements and to celebrate the lasting influence of her work.

Born in Italy and known primarily for her work in Brazil (where she became a citizen in 1951), Lina Bo Bardi’s work is celebrated for designs that combined design and poetry and which challenged linear notions of space and time. She is known for her commitment to expressing the cultural and social importance of the arts and for introducing Brazillian folk cultures into her practice. Notable works include The Glass house, built in and interwoven with rainforest which has since been cut down, the monumental concrete São Paulo museum of art, the abstract staircase at the Solar do Unhão and the Teatro Oficina. Her works are landmarks of Brazilian modernism; they are pieces of visual poetry which unify the study of form and material with Brazillian culture and spirit.

Each of the seven locations featured in Julien’s piece become the stage for performative interventions or rituals which explore different facets of Bo Bardi’s life and work. Iconic structural elements of her designs, such as the staircase at the Bahia Museum of Modern Art, are loci for performances by artists, collectives, musicians and choreographers who worked in collaboration with Julien. A Marvellous Entanglement thus continues Bo Bardi’s efforts to make artistic spaces truly open and collaborative. The work also uncovers the struggles and stories connected to buildings designed by Bo Bardi today.

Julien’s poetic storytelling creates a multidimensional portrait of a nonlinear practitioner - someone whose work shaped space and materials, existing cultures and uncharted terrains. A Marvellous Entanglement not only gives insight into Bo Bardi’s life; it also, by foregrounding her buildings, opens a discussion about the importance of conserving her work. 

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Images: Isaac Julien, installation view, Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement © Isaac Julien, courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

A Marvellous Entanglement is at Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW until 27 July.

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