The first invitation I was friendly pushed to accept came during a formal event. As usual, I didn’t give it much attention and changed subject. My head was completely full of concerns about life and work. I would rather postpone it, because it is too much of a relevant matter to be mixed up with any other thing. I say that because I know very well how putting an exhibition together mobilizes emotions and requires all kinds of arrangements.

The second attack came in writing. Words were courteous, but would not leave room for escape nor postponement.  The deadline for postponement was upon me. The invitation included the request to tell what I know and to show how I do it.

Lots of people know I like to make bamboo spoons, a little work I’ve been doing nearly every day, for many years, and with no concerns whatsoever.  I find it easy to make a spoon, but preparing an exhibition is a different kettle of fish, especially on a tight schedule.

I thought it was wise to call up the whole family to discuss the production. Each of them working in his/her own specialty: the middle daughter taking care of curatorship and organization, the oldest one dealing with graphic materials, the youngest one photographing the spoons; the eldest son updating the website, the fifth son shooting the party, and of course the mother of all of them carefully organizing all the pieces in the showcases.

It was decided that the spoons would be exhibited in open supports, without the protection of glass or acrylic, to be better seen.  Some of them could be touched.

The work tools will give a good idea of how the pieces are made. Spoons attacked by woodworms will show that bugs love to eat bamboo harvested on the wrong season.  Those we use in our kitchen can confirm that what I make can be useful, not only beautiful, as once told me a roadside peddler about a bamboo basket he was trying to sell me.

It is a good thing that nowadays most of the work can be done from far away: photos taken at my place’s balcony, catalogue formatted in São Paulo to be printed out here in Vitória. The design curator text was sent from Finland, and the room and showcase layout designs were prepared onboard of a gaiola-boat travelling upstream the Amazon River.

The to-do list is renewed every day: update e-mail addresses to send invitations; hire woodworkers, print out photos and words to hang on the walls, check the color proofs in the printing company, sort out the illumination, buy a nice shirt, and so on.   I can’t imagine how I could do all of this based on communication through envelopes, with my old Rolleiflex camera, and especially without the mobile phone.

Everything reminds me of the strong emotions I felt during the preparation of the first marble and granite fairs of Cachoeiro, when I worked at Bandes, from where invitations to the exhibition were sent.

Alvaro Abreu
Vitória, November 10, 2010. 
Published in A GAZETA