June 26, 2011, to January 8, 2012
Chelpa Ferro is a Brazilian collective comprised of artists Barrão, Luiz Zerbini, and Sergio Mekler that was formed in 1995. Already independently renowned, they got together under the umbrella “Chelpa Ferro”—Portuguese slang for money and steel—with the objective of doing some leisurely experimentation outside the constraints of their primary individual art careers.
Chelpa Ferro’s first US exhibition will bring their fresh, somewhat chaotic, and savvy interdisciplinary approach to objects that they transform into animate sculptures and sound-creating devices to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum on June 26, 2011. The artists and their ensemble will give a live performance after the opening reception and the project, which has received funding support from the National Endowment for the Arts, will remain on view through January 8, 2012.
Chelpa Ferro is well known for squeezing a rhythmical sound from seemingly non-musical devices such as electric toothbrushes, drills, sewing machines, or juice makers, and using them in their installations and performances. At The Aldrich, the Acusma installation will fill the gallery with a sound resembling a group of people coming together to sing. However, the sound does not visually match the source, which turns out to be a series of beautiful Brazilian ceramic vases spread out on the gallery floor, with loudspeakers playing up to five different recorded voices inside each vessel.
Curator Mónica Ramírez-Montagut says, “In Chelpa Ferro’s work, the blend of high-tech equipment (speakers, cables, computers, and sophisticated computer programming) is integrated with traditional Brazilian crafts and domestic objects, providing a new and surprising visual representation of sound and conferring an aura of mystery upon these mundane objects.”
An eloquent example of this blend is found in the thirty motors of kitchen blenders used in the Jungle Jam installation. The motors are displayed in a horizontal line around all the walls of the gallery space, with plastic bags from vendors local to The Aldrich attached to each one. When the motors are running, the plastic bags hit the gallery wall, creating different sounds. The motors are coordinated through a computer system that functions as an orchestra conductor, directing the whole ensemble.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum will celebrate the opening of Chelpa Ferro: Visual Sound along with five other Collaborations exhibitions at a reception where guests are invited to meet the artists, on Sunday, June 26, 2011, from 3 to 5 pm (FREE with the price of admission: $7 adults; $4 seniors; FREE for members, pre-K-12 teachers, and children 18 and under). Immediately following, a special performance by Chelpa Ferro (included in the price of admission to the reception) will take place at Ridgefield’s Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church from 6 to 7 pm. FREE onsite parking is available, as is round-trip transportation from the Metro North Katonah Train Station to the Museum for the June 26 afternoon reception only. Also on view: Kate Eric: One Plus One Minus One; MTAA: All the Holidays All at Once; Type A: Barrier and Trigger; Jessica Stockholder: Hollow Places Court in Ash-Tree Wood; and Judi Werthein: Do You Have Time?
The Aldrich is supported, in part, by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. Chelpa Ferro: Visual Sound received special funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works. The official media sponsors of exhibition openings are Ridgefield Magazine and WSHU Public Radio.
The Artists: Chelpa Ferro is a collective formed in 1995 by the Brazilian artists Barrão, Luiz Zerbini and Sergio Mekler. Barrão made a name for himself in the 1980s by using banal materials—from refrigerator components to television parts and other fragments of household appliances—to create sculptures with a sense of humor; Luiz Zerbini is one of the most recognized Brazilian painters; and Sergio Mekler is one of the most sought-after editors of video and cinema in Brazil. Chelpa Ferro’s eclectic work explores the plasticity of the sound and its dynamics through sculptures, objects, installations and music performances that challenge the senses of the viewer by using everyday objects. The group has been featured in major international events such as the Biennials of Venice (2005), Havana (2003), São Paulo (2002, 2004) and Liverpool (2002). Chelpa Ferro is represented by Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo, Progetti, Rio de Janeiro and Sprovieri Gallery, London.
Top of page: Chelpa Ferro, Acusma (partial installation view at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield), 2011
Courtesy of the artists and Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo
Photo: Chad Kleitsch