Installation view of Hydragrammas, 2016
A pioneer of video art in the 1970s, Sonia Andrade’s career spans mail art, drawing, photography and installation. Her work exists outside the rules of the market and the prevailing system of Brazilian art from that period. Her experimental videos place the body at the center of the action, constructed in direct relation to television as a medium. Without spectacularization, her body engages in confrontation with the screen and the television set, at times placed at the center of the image, at others presented inside of a cage – a metaphor for the broadcast image as imprisonment. Andrade participates in the 32nd Bienal with the piece Hydragrammas (1978-1993), a set of around one hundred objects and their respective reproductions constructed out of collected materials, organizing the vocabularies of art forms and of everyday life. The objects are part of a kind of writing in which the characters are things found in the world; scrap material that the artist provides with new place and meaning. With a neologistic title formed from the combination of the name of a writing style and that of an indomitable hybrid monster (the Lernaean Hydra), Hydragrammas is an intersection of words and images – a visual alphabet.