Life isn't a sea of roses | Débora Camargo
Text from the exhibit Life isn't a sea of roses, Complexo Cultural Funarte SP, São Paulo, 2020
The artist Karola Braga, in her third exhibit using roses, demonstrates how a symbol so universal acquires new meanings when inserted in different social-historical contexts. While in Iran the roses symbolised the smell of Mohammed, the prophet, and in France, the perfume of queen Marie Antoinette; in Brazil the artist made use of the popular Brazilian expression "sea of roses".
This metaphor commonly used in daily language, means a period of tranquility, calmness, a happy period absent of disturbance. However, the installation states the exact opposite “life is not a sea of roses” - sentence which made the popular expression even more well-known.
Human experience by itself is already filled with chaos, disappointment, frustration and regret which are intrinsic to all our lives. Even though we might experience moments of calmness, beauty and peace; existence’s finitude and the imminence of death produce a characteristic disorder to life. The impossibility of being eternal makes us fragile in the face of our destinies and, between living and dying we are condemned to moments of frustration and unhappiness - it is inevitable.
A solution is to wholeheartedly believe in the promise of a divine promise where, at last, life turns into a sea of roses. Perhaps, until then, be it through culture, or more specifically through art, we may be able to organize chaos and thus find more logical answers to our own existence, giving it meaning. And the meanings we create and the beauty we produce, calm us and give us the illusion of control so we can carry on stronger in our daily hustle. It is this insight which “life isn't a sea of roses” offers us.
Through this artistic experience, Karola Braga gives us a sea of plaster roses, whose smell expands itself in the environment proposing the possibility of a period of peace to the visitor where he/she can momentarily leave all of his/her problems behind. And thus find an encouragement: the other’s voice which comforts and mourns the tough reality of life, filled with inevitable disappointment and unhappiness: I’m sorry for that.*
*In the exhibit the phrase “eu sinto muito por isso” is projected on the wall above the sea of plaster roses. The phrase is used in Portuguese as a form of apologising, however it can be literally translated as “I feel so much”
Originally written in Portuguese by Débora Camargo
Translated by Alexander Dejonghe
Débora Camargo - Master in Linguistics and Semiotics by the University of São Paulo