Frederico Filippi: Cobra Grande

Opening: december 10, 2022
Opening time: 10 am 

“Forest history correctly understood is, across the planet, a story of exploitation and destruction.”
Warren Dean

The “correntão” [big chaining] is a deforestation technique for opening large clearings in the Amazon forest. A naval chain attached to two tractors is used to pull out the native jungle , uprooting medium-sized plants to allow for agricultural occupation . A vast rectangular field is created and is then occupied by monotonous, homogeneous monoculture farming or by pasture for cattle.

The work “Cobra Grande” [Big Snake] reproduces this peculiar Brazilian instrument, a technology that rivals the primitive fire. The chain forms an arc that simulates the constriction of the tractors’ thrust, and mimics the geographic image known as the “arc of deforestation”. This refers to the shape that demarcates the territory where there is continuous action to reduce the Amazon forest and which crosses more than five Brazilian states.

The removal of the forest is a process related to human occupation and agriculture , but it was from the exploitation of monoculture since colonial times that came the indiscriminate advance on forests in Brazilian territory, a process that is heading towards a tragedy of global proportions . Agro-export and extractive production has reached such a point that this large geographical space has formed on the map, which marks the movement of geographical compression in the southeastern and southwestern part of the Amazon forest toward the epicenter.

Cobra Grande” represents that force that compresses the forest and wants to pull it out from the ground by the strength of a civilization of archaic ways. Here, the chain made of clay is a reproduction of the iron chain , like in speech from which words repeat in another context. T he clay is alluding b ecause its essence is different; it is of a culture that carries an arbitrariness in its verisimilitude . To intervene as little as possible, to return to the earth an instrument of violence against biodiversity. The clay tends to dissolve and will not affect the garden or the soil, serving only as an inductor instrument of the forest’s historical context and also analytical of the social movement.

The chain links formed by clay, made from adobe ( an ancient technique used to build houses in the Brazilian countryside) in mam’s Sculpture Garden – which is mostly composed of sculptures made of steel, stone or concrete – give a critical situation to the museum’s perenniality: the dissolution of the arc is the end of the distension of its form and of the acculturation of the entire forest at the same time. The dividing line, therefore, carries the paradox of culture invading what is considered wild, recalling a civilizing perspective about social and cultural institutions and its perception of the tragic dimension of this expropriation movement.

Frederico Filippi sets in motion the contemporary yearning in an ethical search for manifestation, in which ongoing violence is projected as negative, that is, he points to what is no longer bearable. Thus, the predatory discourse of the forest as a vacant space or a mere resource must not be a satellite photo mirage, but something consisting of actual chain links.

Pedro Nery
November 2022



Museum of Modern Art of Sao Paulo

technical project
Paulo Masson

Frederico Filippi
Edward CNC
André Inae
Marcio Ficko
Collective 1417

Paulo Futagawa

photo and image processing
Bruno Leão (EstúdioEmObra)


About Frederico Filippi:

Visual artist, São Paulo. Master’s student in Visual Arts at the School of Communication and Arts at USP. He works with various media, interested in the border between the natural and the built, forest and road, clay and asphalt. He works in the Birico and UCDM collectives and is a collaborator of Casa do Rio in the territory of BR 319 in Amazonas.

The main exhibitions are the solo exhibitions Terra de Ninguém (Galeria Leme, 2020), Cobra Criada, (Galeria Athena, 2019), Próprio Impróprio (Galeria Leme, 2016), Fogo na Babilônia (Pivô, 2015), the collective Obscura Luz, curated by by Kiki Mazuchelli, Ecologias Radicales, BIENALSUR, Com o ar pesado demais para respirar, curated by Lisette Lagnado, Caixa Preta (Fundação Iberê Camargo) curated by Fernanda Brenner, Eduardo Sterzi and Verônica Stigger, Bienal de Foto e Vídeo by Brandt (Denmark, 2016), i no todas las armas, los cañones – Matadero Madrid, Até Aqui Tudo Bem (White Cube São Paulo).

Residencies and Scholarships: Despacio, Costa Rica (2018), PIMASP, Museu de Arte de São Paulo (2016/17), Intervalo Escola, Amazonas (2017), KIOSKO, Bolivia (2015); El Ranchito – Matadero, Madrid (2014), 5th edition of Bolsa Pampulha, Belo Horizonte (2013/14), Centro de Investigaciones Artisticas, Buenos Aires (2013), Ateliê Aberto #6, Casa Tomada (2012) and Red Bull House of Art, SP (2011).