'Involuntary Works' at Sesc Ipiranga BY Elizabeth Wright

Project Proposal

Over time, do buildings take on the characteristics of their occupants, whereby users leave a trace of themselves? Or do the inhabitants collectively represent the building? How might we record the imprints and marks that have materialized from 1954 to 2016 within the fabric of the Sesc Ipiranga site; tracing daily acts, from the manifest to the quiet indexical prints that fold back the habits and rituals performed during this period? ‘Involuntary Works’ was a term first used by the 20th century French Surrealist photographer Brassaï. Referring to the use and manipulation of everyday objects, such as bus tickets and bread rolls, photographed in extreme close up, to monumentalize the act of human unconscious play, thereby becoming ‘involuntary’ photographic sculptures (as seen in the magazine Minotaure[1]). How might we find instances where the building’s fabric and spaces have been sculptured, through everyday performances by the Ipiranga community and locate changes in the structure that have subtly transformed the original building into its current form, enabling its users to engage in a dialogical sculptural exchange?


How to record and respond to ‘Involuntary Works by Sesc Ipiranga’, is the subject of our discussion; we could begin by locating relevant capture methods, setting up a process to establish what is agreed to be the most appropriate technique. This might depend upon the authoritative devices the recording was subject to: forensic photography, archeology, anthropology and psychogeography, each prescriptive of a set methodology and discipline. How to locate and activate the recorded material, either within an exhibition or archive, would form part of the exchange. In parallel to understanding Ipiranga as a sculptural process we should consider how to continue the recording of its unfolding and make the ‘Involuntary Works’ accessible to a wider public. For Brassaï, the magazine form, was a space for display and the dissemination of the sculptural works, and for us, the form of the website our platform.


Elizabeth Wright, Artist and senior lecturer, 3D Pathway Leader on the BA Fine Art Course at Central Saint Martins.


[1] Brassaï's photographs of Involuntary Sculptures were published in number 3-4 of Minotaure, a Surrealist orientated magazine published between 1933 and 1939.

'Involuntary Works' at Sesc Ipiranga based on traces from the Sesc building and site. A dialogue between Elizabeth Wright (Central Saint Martins), O Grupo Inteiro, Zebra 5, Museu Paulista - USP and Sesc Ipiranga.


'Involuntary Works' at Sesc Ipiranga based on objects brought by the community and Museu Paulista Educational Program. A dialogue between Elizabeth Wright (Central Saint Martins), O Grupo Inteiro, Zebra 5, Museu Paulista - USP and Sesc Ipiranga.


Workshop 'Involuntary Works' at Sesc Ipiranga BY Elizabeth Wright WITH O Grupo Inteiro, Zebra 5, Museu Paulista - USP and Sesc Ipiranga.

Countercartography BY Anthony Davies

Project Proposal

This contribution to Campos de Preposições will extend research into experimental and left libertarian education already underway at Central Saint Martins and drawing on staff and student initiatives from the 1960’s and 1970’s. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 and in direct response to the threat posed to many archives associated with social history, staff and students began the process of recovering CSM’s past as a means to engage and inform the present. From little known student-led initiatives challenging the role of the artist in local communities (The Bell Lane School Project, 1973) right through to attempts to redefine the University in terms of communitarian and socialist principles (RCA Redefined, 1971) – the aim has been to restore a sense of the continuity of struggle, challenging institutional orthodoxy etc.

A key question has been the extent to which a cross generational dialogue and transfer of knowledge can be encouraged which doesn’t privilege one generational set of experiences over any other - where common interests can be reconvened and historical patterns revealed, rather than generations pitched against each other, as if their struggles are mutually exclusive. In projects like MayDay Rooms in London, there has been a concerted attempt to position the archive as a living resource, speaking in and through the present. This approach relies heavily on ‘history from below’, foregrounding the voices of those routinely placed outside the purview of officially sanctioned history and challenging the elite interests of historical discourses rooted in the academy.

The policies of austerity that have come to dominate everyday life have directly attacked public resources and infrastructures as if they represented a luxury, an excess. But should their destruction necessarily also entail the disappearance of alternative histories and sites of resistance or does the ongoing state of crisis also create new proximities, new opportunities, for the development of social resources? The global ascendance of interest in notions such as the commons, or social reproduction, would suggest precisely this; and so this project seeks to compare and connect distinct experiences between London and Sao Paulo.

Anthony Davies, lecturer in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College. He is also a founder and former member of MayDay Rooms, an educational charity based in London and set up in 2011 as a safe haven for historical material linked to social movements and experimental culture.

In Exchange. Student meeting on the “educational development” timeline at St. Martins School of Art 1964-1984. 10th Floor at the Lethaby Gallery Central Saint Martins. February- March 2011

Exercising Presence, Zebra 5 [Educational Program]

The Zebra5 collective proposes acts of mediation that seek to activate settings for observation, communal living, games and collective creation that overlap with layers of the Fields of Prepositions project. Activities include Listening and Compiling communal living experiences, Games, Conversation and Word Labs.

Receiving Dom D. Pedro I*

Before the opening of the project, O Grupo inteiro was at the communal area with other SESC Ipiranga attendees and invited them to rearrange the furniture in preparation for the arrival of Dom Pedro I. On August 14, 1822, Dom Pedro I started his journey from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo, via Santos, which culminated in the cry of Independence on September 7, on Ipiranga hill.

* in portuguese: "Fazendo sala para D. Pedro", translated here as "Receiving D. Pedro I" is an expression used to when you receive a person in your home and it makes necessary to begin a not comfortable or desirable conversation with that visitor.

Fazendo sala para Dom Pedro I

Online platform

The digital platform is one of the sites where Fields of Prepositions will take place. A virtual space that holds 3 main tracks: dialogues carried out by O grupo inteiro with critical respondents from Central Saint Martins (London); a research platform; and project communication.





Fields of Prepositions
Sesc Ipiranga

from september 15th
to december 4th, 2016

Sesc Ipiranga
R. Bom Pastor, 822 | Map
CEP 04203-000. São Paulo SP
Phone +55 11 3340 2000

from September 15th to December 4th, 2016
Tuesday to Friday, from 7:30 am to 9 pm | Saturdays, 10 am to 9 pm | Sundays and Holidays, from 10 am to 6 pm


© 2016, O grupo inteiro | University of the Arts London | Sesc SP. All Rights Reserved.