cosmic slop slop

solo exhibition at Projeto Vênus - São Paulo, Brazil / 2023
curated by Ricardo Sardenberg

In the intimate space of the house, feet wear old socks and slippers as they shuffle across the floor.  Privacy allows the uncompromising of clothes and posture. In bed, the body imagi-nes and dreams of anomalous beings and hy-brid forms. Outside this reserved field the logic seems to be different: the hurried walk on ur-ban sidewalks avoids banana peels and vomit, the dejection and the abject that sometimes disturb the vision and cause disgust.

Let’s recognize the hierarchy of the world: clean clothes are worth more than dirty ones, everything that is detritus is hidden, that which we understand as top is usually associated with the head which, together with the hands, commonly serves as a metaphor for human thought and intelligence - as opposed to the feet, so close to the ground, relegated to the task of responding to brain commands and transporting the body. What is low is not just a place, it is a value.

In Cosmic Slop Slop, Yan Copelli gives visibility to mundane images that we often choose not to see or show. The old flip-flops, the scrotum, the frayed sock, the black water coming out of the faucet, the withered petals, leaves and stems, fit with toes that are too long, but also that which we cannot name, forms that do not allow themselves to be classified, shuddering the boundaries between human and inhuman.

These limits are blurred without, however, Copelli’s creatures being the junction of peo-ple and machines. The cosmos created by the artist is not that of cyborgs. We do not see in it a dehumanization of people turned into things, but rather the humanization of objects and vegetables. The sculpture Relax, of the used sock that gains a face, is made with some shades of gray that refer to the fabric loaded with sweat, the object turned creature is the one that had contact with the heat of the skin and the fluids of the body. The used piece of clothing does not become disposable, dead from the point of view of its use value: some-one has been there, put it on, this is what gives it a certain survival. This, by the way, seems to be the principle that governs all the sculptures here: for them to have value, they must have been considered useless.

But what happens, then, when what is of the order of the dirty, the disposable, the disgust-ing and the useless returns? These beings created by Copelli do not return as the mon-strous that has been repressed, they do not haunt. Think of David Cronenberg’s films, full of viscera, blood, strange bodies, unusual living forms: the themes are close to those chosen by Copelli. The treatment given to them, however, seems diametrically opposed. In Cosmic, it is not a matter of shocking the observer by stom-ach-churning. Everything that comes from the underworld appears in a harmless and, in some cases, even graceful way. This is what we see in the sculpture Passeio, of the banana peel that balances itself as slender legs parade by. Or even in the painting Bicho, in which two feet and leg potatoes connect to a scrotal sac rep-resented without a penis. Free of the connotation of the dominating masculine that usually accompanies it, it is transfigured into a small, sympathetic head.

If the figures presented here do not come to disturb us, it does not seem right to say that they come to impress or take the place of that which dominates and oppresses. More than subverting the hierarchy of the world, these works seem to dissolve it: what was at the bot-tom of the pyramid does not occupy the top. Everything is side by side. What do these beings want? The right to exist. In order to conquer it, they do not occupy large spaces, they do not overshadow the rest of the world, they are not violent. They exist calmly, in a kind of aloof-ness. That, it seems to me, is their great value: far away from phallic disputes, without offer-ing majesty, smoothness, cleanliness, fresh-ness, they conquer their plenitude. This appears even in Slop Slop, the only sculpture made of bronze. The material, more noble than those of the other pieces, comes closer to them by what gives it form: the liquid of viscous resemblance that comes out of a cavity. This is also true of the sculpture Escorrega and the painting Ponte, the largest pieces in the set. The banana peel, associated with the possibility of falling, gains weight and size to become what its name an-nounces: a slide, a construction that invites the body to play and indiscipline.  The great feet of Ponte’s painting, despite their pioneering pos-ture in nature, do not carry hands capable of destroying the environment. They lead them-selves, for what seems to count is the walk, the course.

Cosmic Slop Slop could be read as the possible dream of the Anthropocene. Lush nature gives way to the garden of anomalies, the human head, which was only capable of thinking up edifying but also destructive projects, is gone. The hands are melting like candles. In this sce-nario of ruin, to dream of material abundance, Apollonian visuality, and the empire of novelty seems like a trap, an attempt to return to the past that is no longer coming back. These are times of wreckage. Copelli’s pieces challenge us to form a kind of imaginary against the grain, a community in which everything and everyone that has been associated with the field of shame or thrown in the trash can can fi-nally exist without being relegated to the status of leftovers, to use anthropologist Maria Elvira Diaz’s expression. In the middle of the end of the world, the party of those who have always been left out of the party.

Natália Leon
Researcher in Philosophy of Art