Clarissa Tossin: Encontro das Águas (Meeting of Waters)



Opening Reception at JOAN on Oct. 8th from 6pm-8pm.

JOAN is pleased to present Clarissa Tossin: Encontro das Águas (Meeting of Waters), a delicate and ambitious large-scale installation. Combining the basket weaving patterns of the indigenous Baniwa people, native to the Brazilian Amazon, with satellite images depicting the 900-miles (1,448 kilometers) of the Amazon River from the Manaus Basin (or Port of Manaus) in Brazil to its equatorial drainage point in the Atlantic Ocean, Tossin created an enormous tapestry whose cuts and weaves evoke the divide between two systems of representation–cultural and ideological—that exist in Manaus itself.

Image: Meeting of Waters confluence between the dark water of the Rio Negro river with the s Rio Solimões at Amazon River in Manaus, Brazil. Photo credit: José Caldas/ / Alamy Stock Photo.

Located within the Amazon rainforest in the Northern region of Brazil, Manaus is the capital city of Amazonas, and situated at the confluence of the Rio Negro (Black River) and the Rio Solimões. The two rivers connect with the Amazon River at the Port of Manaus and for 3.7 miles (6 kilometers), their nearly black and beige colored water flow parallel to each other without joining, until the two rivers stream into the Atlantic Ocean.

For her exhibition at JOAN, Tossin weaves the cut strips of the tapestry in opposing directions while creating visual breaks in the pattern to depict the physical and political fragmentation of the river. This psychic movement mimics the routes of consumer goods, materials, and people in the region. At the scale of 50 feet long x 4 1/2 feet wide (15.24 meters x 1.37 meters), the piece drapes over the ceiling beams in the gallery and reveals their bilateral construction before curling downwards onto the floor and across the length of the space.

In 1957 Federal Deputy of the Brazilian government Francisco Pereira da Silva (1818–1985) legally amended the city of Manaus into a “Porto Franco” or Free Trade Port, an area where goods and products from the Amazon could be stored. In 1960 the port was designated as a Free Trade Zone (ZFM – Zona Franca de Manaus) and by 1967 the zone was formally extended to 6,200 square miles (16,057 kilometers). The mass deregulation of the area lured foreign business interests with tax incentives, reduced and nearly obliterated laws protecting the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, and offered an enormity of landmass to commercial, industrial, and agricultural industries.

Currently, Manaus is the headquarters of various consumer production plants, including Apple, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Honda Motorcycles, Harley-Davidson, and Yamaha Motorcycles, among others. Under the ZFM, the Port of Manaus and its direct access to the open Atlantic Ocean is the lifeline for these foreign corporations and a detriment to the Amazon rainforest. The consequences of this massive international exchange on the natural and vulnerable corridor of the Amazon River contributes to the deterioration of the rainforest, whose impact is most severe on the habitats of indigenous cultures in the region. Tossin merges these contradictory spaces with a selection of mass produced products from the region that are cast in terra cotta, the traditional material used by the Baniwa people to make pots, urns, food containers, and other earthenware. In contrast to the fragmentation of the tapestry, the terra cotta melds a fundamental material of an ancient Amazonian cultural history with replicas of consumer objects, making visible the production and circulation of consumer goods while stripping them of their intended function.

Clarissa Tossin earned her BFA in 2000 from Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado in São Paulo, Brazil and her MFA in 2009 from California Institute of the Arts. She was awarded a Residency Fellowship at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco in Recife, Brazil, (2015), and an Emerging Artist Fellowship from the California Community Foundation, (2014). She participated in Artpace, San Antonio’s international artist-in-residence program, where she developed and exhibited the multimedia installation Brasília, Cars, Pools and Other Modernities, (2013) later included in Made in L.A. 2014 (2014) at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, (2015); Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles, (2015); Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, (2014); Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston, (2013); and Sicardi Gallery, Houston, (2013). Some of her group exhibitions include Trans-Americas: A sign, A situation, A concept,  Museum London (2016); United States of Latin America, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, (2015); Unsettled Landscapes, SITE Santa Fe, (2014); Bringing the World into the World, Queens Museum, (2014); and When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes, CCA Wattis Institute, (2012); among others.

Clarissa Tossin: Encontro das Águas (Meeting of Waters) is organized by Gladys-Katherina Hernando.