Walmor B. Corrêa : Investigation, imagination, and deceit
Maria Amélia Bulhões
The word “collection” almost instantly brings to mind natural history museums with their displays of stuffed or desiccated animals. We all remember this kind of scene from our school days. We were all taken to visit these spaces of silence and death.
Walmor B. Corrêa resorted to these memories to create Mesa Entomológica ( Entomology Bench) and Diorama Cartesiano ( Cartesian Diorama). Memories from his childhood, when his strict father took him to the country on weekends to classify insects; memories stored from trips to the wilderness, or from readings in natural science handbooks and compendiums. His scientism, however, was exhausted in these procedures as his imagination took leave of objective reality to roam the boundless spaces of creation.
Corrêa tells how he felt sorry for the animals killed for use in laboratory practice when he was a student at junior high school. So when drawing his creatures, he raises the possibility that there should be no death in these cases. The real-life pins stuck into the images attempt to lend more veracity to these fake animals.
Without actually interfering in nature, he lets the viewer’s imagination follow its own course. He provides “clues” to his creative process through texts with individual names he makes up, along with some of the features thought necessary to confer na identity on these impossible beings he has brought to life. The drawing of a small insect-half-cricket, half-mosquito with a thin beak, titled Agulha’s Duphin ( Duphis Needles), for instance, is presented with the following description: “Enemy of fleas and moths. In the middle age, was responsible for the discovery of haute couture.”
Ambiguity is present not only as the artist’s basic tool, but also in the structure of his language. At first sight, we figure we are entering the universe of detailed realism typical of science books and encyclopedias. On a closer look, however, we realize that nothing here is actually real or plausible. To our surprise, we, viewers, see a play from the theater of the absurd being staged that has innumerable acts.
Combining characteristics from different real animals in a single newly created being, the artist fulfills – on a symbolic level – the urge to create life or defeat death , which has moved humanity since the beginning of time, and that now drives the Genoma Project and cloning procedures.
Walmor B. Corrêa declares that somehing very intense came into his mind when he discovered that scientists specializing in flight had examined the structure of the beetle and concluded that it could never fly; although it does. He found this impossibble phenomenon in nature to be at the same time surprising and fascinating. His creations establish the genealogy of new species in which subtle combinations evince secret desires, anxieties, and frustrations.
Corrêa’s procedure hides a certain cruelty. Sometimes, there is a latent pain caused by a situation imposed on grown animals. A winged fish leaves the water and is suffocated with air in its lungs; the toad with dragonfly wings that cannot sustain its body when trying to fly with its fragile wings. But the basic pain felt by each of these imagined animals may spring basically from the situation of being marginal to any recognized species.
Collecting here assumes an air of omnipotence taken to an extreme. But Walmor B. Corrêa seems to be aware of the risks he takes by giving wings to his imagination. And, when playing God, he also evinces the risks of his boldness.
Maria Amélia Bulhões é Doutora em História da Arte, curadora, crítica e professora do Programa
de Pós-Graduação em artes visuais do Instituto de Artes da UFRGS.