Laura Lima

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birth, body, everyday life, gender, pain, sexuality, time, transformation
Performing Arts (happening)
Visual Arts (body art, participation art)
America, South, Asia, Eastern, Europe, Western, Europe, Southern, America, North, America, South
Brazil, China, England (UK), Germany, Spain, United States of America, Venezuela
Rio de Janeiro
created on:
March 22, 2006
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since August 2, 2006. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
information provided by:
Laura Lima
Co-founder of A Gentil Carioca in Rio de Janeiro


Laura Lima: The Body Humbled

Brazilian artist, Laura Lima, is primarily concerned with the human body - often as part of a larger whole, whether connecting to or contradicting other objects. In her four major series (Flesh = Man/Flesh = Woman; Dimensional Tattoos; RhR; and Vivia21), the body performs metaphors of social relationships and problematises both the individual and the collective body, raising questions about how embodiment is formed and functions.
In the work of Brazilian artist Laura Lima, the body “retains a firm grip on the imagination”. It is a body exposed to interpretation, pushed to its limits, “condemned to endless repetitions or impeded and interrupted gestures” (The task of distance, Lisette Lagnado, Lima articulates connections and obstacles between bodies and objects. In her work, the body is undifferentiated from things. It is a mouldable object; it is flesh. It has no specific character or identity, but is everyone, condemned obsessively to repeat situations and gestures as if it had no other purpose than to underline the impossibility of transcendence, the failure of communication. (Laura Lima, Octavio Zaya

In the works, the body performs metaphors of social relationships that inscribe ‘Instances’ that are the focus of her work:
"I am more interested in the intricate social relationships, the exchange of behaviours that in time serves to alter our perception of the quotidian, the every day" (

Lima’s works are encompassed within four major series: Flesh = Man/Flesh = Woman; Dimensional Tattoos; RhR; and Vivia21. These four series problematise both the individual and the collective body, raising questions about how embodiment is formed and functions. The notion of “body” is severed from its idealism and required to undergo various physical operations and dynamic rituals, in such a way as to produce a different and divergent sort of knowledge. (

Through the events, the body is de-symbolised into Lacanian flesh, not subject but abject, individuated but also equalling each other: “any human being equals any other when kinship is reducible to the materiality of flesh" (Lima quoted in Debra Savage, The Big Issue). The Flesh=Man/Flesh=Woman series touches on this problem. However, Lima is not interested in being herself the site of the work, as in the case of fellow Latin American Ana Medieta; rather, she is looking for possible “alterities” (embodiments of the Other) by experiencing something through someone else’s flesh. By her own admittance, “the artist is a predator, the Flesh=Person her prey”. Flesh is used by the artist as raw material. Yet, it is not a matter of “brute flesh” but rather of “flesh informed” by a deliberate and explicit set of circumstances imposed on the de-symbolised subject=flesh.

Thus, “Flesh=Man, Woman” sets up a series of confrontations between the person captured (an organism already individuated in terms of gender, age, physical appearance) and its transformation into flesh, through the performance plan brought about by the artist. Her project “seems to involve an engineering of building and shaping. Each project entails a new proposal of individual functionality within the playful domain of the experience of arbitrarily setting limits” (Laura Lima: The artist as predator, Ricardo Basbaum,

There are no theatrical attempts to direct the action. Lima draws a plan; she assigns her flesh=people tasks such as walking, sucking, sleeping, fighting, pulling, and jumping, to be performed in absurd situations at short, non-narrative intervals. In O Puxador (The “Puller”), a naked man wears a kind of backpack tied to his back which contains a number of long pieces of rope extending to the outside of the gallery through the windows. Each piece of rope is tied to a different tree in the landscape outside. The event aims to bring the landscape into the gallery, stopping only at the discretion of the “Flesh=Person”. The event lasts for about four hours. Once concluded, the audience can witness the traces left behind: the pieces of rope and the backpack lying on the floor. The event transforms the physical, superhuman effort of uprooting seven palm trees into the mental effort of rebuilding the landscape in the mind/body of the “Puller”. Physical energy is transformed into mental energy: the act is neither mimetic nor metaphorical. It is rather, “a spatial construction of elements that incorporate and embody one another to finally reshape the organism, transforming it into an experimental alterity traversing the entire body”. (Laura Lima: The artist as predator, R. Basbaum,

Similarly, in Pulling (1998), a naked man and woman sit facing each other. A long cloth hose called a "sucking machine" connects them (one end strapped to his face stretches out to a pair of funnels, held to her breasts). In Apparatus for the Hips, two men are joined with a cloth girdle to form an awkward crab-like creature.

Tatuagens Dimensionais (Dimensional Tattoos) take a more radical path in as much as they are ‘impossible projects” that go beyond the limits of the human body. These projects “follow an extremist path, almost sensationalist, revealing a more concrete gesture of physical intervention in the body, complementing semiotic engineering with a “prosthetic” will. (Laura Lima: The artist as predator, Ricardo Basbaum,

In one project, for example, Lima proposes the creation of new joints in body limbs through hinge implants. In another, the purchaser of one of the Tattoos is given a “Doctor’s Note” that describes the procedure to be carried out. The procedure in this instance requires that three fingers be removed from the left hand leaving only the thumb and index finger. The severed digits are then placed beside the little finger of the right hand. An eight fingered-hand, we are told, is better for sports such as tennis, Ping-Pong etc. If the Athlete is left handed, the procedure is inverted (Laura Lima, Octavio Zaya,

The series RhR (an acronym for “Representative-hyphen-Representative”), is an exercise in the production of a collective body that constantly reinvents itself, maintaining a strong pattern of cohesion, protecting itself from outsiders. The group is made up of countless members, from all walks of life, among which Lima herself assumes the role of manager.

In “Customs Store”, visitors are encouraged to purchase unusual clothing made of blue vinyl which they are encouraged to wear in their daily lives. The wearing of these ‘habits’ begins to define new communities of users/purchasers. The work offers a critique of social trading, including the contracts of ‘acquisition’ inherent in the art world: “at any given time, a gallery exposes the products of artisans, it acts as a store, I have incorporated the habits of the place to the work” (

In May 2004, Lima brought to Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales, her work "To Age". The project developed as a process of ageing of the Centre’s staff throughout four days: “Centred around the suspension of time within consumerism … its logic is abbreviated by Laura Lima and the artist causes us to arrive, rather early, at the end of a flow that women and men may attempt to avoid, yet cannot manage to escape” (Fernando Cocchiarale trans. By Geraldine Lublin and James Chapter, Chapter Arts , document of the event).

Throughout, the work suggests that one´s dignity is undermined by instinctual desires ( that expose “the melancholy of our human misery: a work of individuals and the incessant postponement of desire’s satisfaction. Relationship with the other is translated through contained, at times repressive, energy … In its invocation of an unknown region, the impossibility of a finished reading … to explore the hermeneutic limits of seeing and understanding”. (The task of distance, Lissette Lagnado,
Author: Ana Sanchez-Colberg


Laura Lima was born in 1971 in Minas Gerais, Brazil. She graduated in Philosophy at the State University of Rio de Janeiro and studied at the Visual Arts School of Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro, from 1991 to 1994. She lives and works in Rio de Janeiro.



Exhibition / Installation
Museu de Arte Moderna São Paulo, São Paulo, Brasil


2006 -Laura Lima at A Gentil Carioca. Rio de Janeiro. RJ. Brazil. 2005 Paisagem/Landscape, Invited by Lisette Lagnado (Workshop of Art Critic), Museu do Estado. Recife-PE. Brazil. 2004 Ball-Laura Lima, Produced by A Gentil Carioca (Gentil First Anniversary), Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Laura Lima - Instâncias- To Age, Chapter Art Centre, Cardiff, Wales, UK 2003 Costumes Loja / Costumes Shop, Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil. 2002 Costumes, Mala Galerija, Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, Slovenia MAN=FLESH/WOMAN=FLESH & COSTUMES, Museu de Arte da Pampulha / Pampulha Art Museum, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. 2000 Project Rooms, Arco-Madrid, Spain Puller / School of Art Critics, São Paulo, Brazil. Travelled with RhR to Reina Sofia Museum and the City of Madrid. Reina Sofia Museum. Madrid. 1998 Projeto Digestão, Centro Cultural São Paulo, Brasil.


2006 XXVII São Paulo Biennale – ‘How to Live Together’. Curated by Lisette Lagnado and Co-curated by Adriano Pedrosa, Cristina Freire, Rosa Martinez and José Roca. Parque do Ibirapuera. São Paulo, Brazil. 2005 Limite como Potência. Curated by Luisa Interlenghi and Paulo Herkenhoff. Fine Arts Museum of Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro,Brazil. The Nada Art Fair, A Gentil Carioca Stand, Miami, USA. Ralador n.3 Magazine, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Adam Happiness, Crossing over Armando Mattos work of art. Anexo-Galeria Laura Marsiaj. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Troca Brasil at PNCA, Portland-Oregon, USA. Educação Olha, A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Drawings: A – Z. Curated by Adriano Pedrosa. Coleção Madeira Corporate services Porta 33, Madeira Island, Portugal. Arte Pará 2005. Curated by Paulo Herkenhoff. Fundação Romulo Maiorana. Belém, Brazil. Review, curated by Rodrigo Moura. Pampulha Museum,Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Rencontres Paralleles, curated by Hervé Perdriolle, Centre d’Art Contemporain de Basse – Hérouville Saint Clair, Normandy France. Baroque Allegory in Contemporary Art. Curated by Alfons Hug. Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. O Corpo na Arte Contemporânea Brasileira, curated by Fernado Cocchiarale and Viviane Matesco. Instituto Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil. Stand Casa Triângulo, Arco-Madri, Spain. 2004 Como En La Tele, Sala Experimental do Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, Caracas, Venezuela. Acervo A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Posição 2004, Piscinão do Lage, curated by BobN, Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Imagem Sitiada, curated by Armando Mattos, Espaço Sesc, Sesc Petrópolis, Campos e Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. MIP - 2a edição / MIP second edition. Curated by Marco Paulo Rolla and Marcos Hill, Ipatinga, Brazil. 2003 Soap-Opera Mu’s Mansion and Mu’s Palace. Workshop Triangle Arts. Gas Works. LiJiang. China. IV Bienal do Mercosul. Curated by Franklin Espath Pedroso, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Alfândega, Cais do Porto - Armazém5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Infantil, A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Meta-corpos, curated by Daniela Bousso. Paço das Artes, São Paulo, Brazil. Spectacular. Curated by Jens Hoffmann. Kunst Palast. Dusseldorf, Germany. Stand Casa Triangulo, ARCO, Madrid, Spain. MIP Performances, curated by Marco Paulo Rolla and Marcos Hill. Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Can an Exhibition be a work of Art?, curated by Jens Hoffmann. Visual Arts School of Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Grande Orlândia, curated by Márcia X and Ricardo Ventura, São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 2002 Obra Prima, curated by Lisette Lagnado. Novo Museu, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. Espaço-Experimento, curated by Armando Mattos, Parque das Ruínas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photos, Casa Triangulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Design Concept of Capacete Planet Journal n.03, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stand Casa Triangulo, ARCO, Madrid, Spain. 20 anos de CCSP, Centro Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Performing Actions at Museum of Contemporary Art of Americana (MACA), Americana, Brazil. M=f/W=f & Costumes, SESC-Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Love’s House, curated by AGORA (Raul Mourão, Eduardo Coimbra and Ricardo Basbaum). Hotel Love’s House. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Panorama 2001, curated by Ricardo Basbaum, Ricardo Resende and Paulo Reis. Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Panorama 2001. Curated by Ricardo Basbaum, Ricardo Resende and Paulo Reis. Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil. 2001 H=c/M=c Machado / M=f/W=f. Hatchet, Espaço Agora-Capacete, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pombos de Peito / Chest Pigeons, Lucky Strike Photo Lab, Marina da Glória, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mostra do Redescobrimento. Curated by Franklin Espath Pedroso. Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires. Argentina. III Bienal do Mercosul, Hospital Psiquiátrico São Pedro, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Virgin Territory, curated by Franklin Espath Pedroso, Berta Sichel and Susan Fisher Sterling, National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), Washington. D.C, U.S.A. A Little Bit of History Repeated. Curated by Jens Hoffmann, Kunst-Werke, Berlin, Germany. First Biennial of Tirana, curated by Jens Hoffmann, Tirana, Albania. Arco-Madrid, Stand of Casa Triângulo, Madrid, Spain. Orlândia, curated by Márcia X, Ricardo Ventura and BobN. Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 2000 Fim do Milênio, Tadeu Chiarelle, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Bienal de Gravura. Curated by Adriano Pedrosa, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. Art Critic Workshops, by Lisette Lagnado. São Paulo, Brazil. Arco - Stand Galeria Casa Triângulo, Madrid, Spain. 1999 Puller / Fundição Progresso, Curated by Agora (Ricardo Basbaum, Raul Mourão, Eduardo Coimbra), Rio de Janeiro. Brazil. Arco - Stand Galeria Casa Triângulo, Madrid, Spain. Curated with Marssares, Vivia21 no Poste, (Invited artists: Jarbas Lopes, Cabelo, Márcio Ramalho, Edson Barrus and Aimberê Cesar). Poste Gallery. Niterói, RJ. Brazil. 1998 XXIV Bienal de São Paulo – ‘One and/among the Others’, Curated by Paulo Herkenhoff and Adriano Pedrosa, Parque do Ibirapuera. São Paulo, Brazil. Dez anos de Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Mix Brasil Festival, São Paulo, Brazil. Pinacoteca, Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo, Brazil. Antártica Artes com a Folha Catalogue, Galeria Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Grupo Aonde de Ação, Metrô de Copacabana. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Art Work Censured at Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Rio de Janeiro, Solar Grandjean de Montigny, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 1997 Nove Anos de Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil. XXV Salão Nacional de Arte da Pampulha, HONORS PRIZE, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Intervalos, Curated by Daniela Bousso. Paço das Artes, São Paulo, Brazil. 1996 Antárctica Artes com a Folha, Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo, Brazil. ‘Duo along with Edson Barrus’, Niterói, Brazil. 1994 Arpoador e Diabo Beaches (Cow from the Mountain at the Beach, special participation Jorge Mautner), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Objetos?!, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. O amor e a Amora, Violeta Café, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Novos Noventa, Indicated by Iole de Freitas, Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro. Brazil. Bandeira Pouca é Bobagem, Circo Voador. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brasil Sem Chernobyl, Circo Voador. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Carnaval Off, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Abriu, Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 1992 Arte em Obra, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Pulling, 1998
Gala Chickens, 2004-2005
Costumes, 2002