[Installation detail] - Sermon on the Mount: Fiat Lux (1974 - 1979)
Area of approximately 60m², surrounded by eight mirrors of 1.60 m by 1.20 m, on which surfaces were written eight beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 3-10). In the center of this area, stacked, 126 thousand boxes of matches. The floor was covered with black sandpaper. The sound of the friction of the feet on the sandpaper was recorded and amplified. Four actors also participated in the work.
Sermão da Montanha: Fiat Lux (The Sermon on the Mount: Fiat Lux) (1973–79) was a performance piece that occured in a mirrored room with 126,000 Fiat Lux–brand matchboxes over a floor covered in black sand paper. The matchboxes were surrounded by security guards for 24 hours while visitors were permitted to enter.
The work was created during Brazil’s twenty-one year miltary dictatorship, at a stage where the oppressive conditions had been endured for some time and engineers an experience of uncertainty as a response to the lived conditions in Brazil at that time. By bringing the absurd to life - a room stacked with thousands of matches upon a large surface to light them - it bridges the gap between real and fictional in a scenario of impending tension, anxiety, and possibility.
One of the most influential conceptual artists today, Cildo Meireles creates complex installations and sculptures that entice the viewer and challenge political, philosophical, and aesthetic precepts. Meireles’s artistic practice was shaped by the social and political conditions during the dictatorship of Brazil in the 1960s and ‘70s, and by the Neo-Concretist and avant-garde movements. Like his predecessors, Meireles merges physical, cerebral, and sensorial elements in works that elicit audience participation. While Meireles’s works are often created in response to specific political events and situations, they evoke universal themes that are communicated through the viewer’s experience in a shared, rigorously designed and defined space.
Meireles’s work has been the subject of several large-scale exhibitions at renowned institutions. In 2013, a retrospective organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Spain, traveled to the Fundação de Serralves, Portugal, and the HangarBicocca, Italy, the following year.
In 2008, Meireles had a full-scale retrospective at the Tate Modern, England; the exhibition traveled through 2010 to the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain, and the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico.
His work is represented in major museums and institutions around the world including the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Brazil; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Finland; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Museo d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Belgium; and Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom.
Meireles was born in 1948 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he currently lives and works. Cildo Meireles is represented by Galeria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo and Galerie Lelong & Co, New York.