Mana Bernardes | Visuals

by Adélia Borges

Mana Bernardes’ multiple fields of activity are presented here, in this book, in four chapters: Visual Experiments, Quotidian Jewels, Manuscripts, and Pedagogical Environments. As I see it, the divisions correspond more to a need to organize and categorize the presented universe – a legitimate and indispensable expedient for any publication – than to a pre-existent categorization.

In Mana, various dimensions continuously interpenetrate and crisscross. One gives meaning to the other, illuminating and nourishing. Her work is directly linked to self-expression, a drive related to art. It is an impetuous outpouring of her soul, made tangible in forms, colors, materials, often having one of more uses, an attribute of design.

These things vary in scale. At the micro level, there are the quotidian jewels; it is a micro-scale that subjectively takes on volume through proximity to the body of its wearer. This intimacy involves a relationship between the materials used and human skin. Since the jewels are generally changeables, destined to find final form on the user at the moment of use, they involve a relationship that goes beyond the sensorial. They are small sculptures that find their (active and non-passive) pedestal in the human body.

On the other end, there are the sitespecific installations in urban settings. Once again, made of material, color, and form, but this time larger, large-scale, enhancing our commute through the cities we navigate everyday. In between, Mana’s interventions as a visual artist/ sculptor, like the molded “impressions” of her own body, are shown in museums.

If poetry is presented in this book as a separate chapter, we need to remember that it is impregnated in Mana’s work as a whole.
The word is born in the brain, a result of a mental activity. Poets are those who write from the heart. In addition to passing through the brain and the heart, these poems are made concrete by Mana’s hands, and thus take on another dimension, which also touches us.

All of these dimensions finally exist and become meaningful in the area of education. Mana uses her art and her design to interact with herself – to save herself, we might say – and above all to interact with others around her. It doesn’t matter if they are literate or illiterate; if they are hipsters or narrowminded; old, young, or children – doing is a way of entering into contact with the other, sharing the opportunity for transformation inherent in every human being, which makes our adventure in the world so fascinating, even if at times so painful.

What surprises me is that Mana Bernardes has achieved so much, so early. And that her career – which began when she was still a girl – has already accu mulated such an intense and extensive repertoire, as we see in this book.

Adélia Borges is a journalist and curator specializing in design, and History of Design professor at the Armando Álvares Penteado Foundation (faap).