Boston, USA, 1987.
Lives and works between São Paulo (Brazil) and Amsterdam (Netherlands).
The multiple propositions of Daniel de Paula intend to reflect upon the production of space as the reproduction of violent dynamics of a system of power and control, thus revealing critical investigations concerning the social, political, economic, and historical structures that shape places and relationships.
Through a posture that is informed by notions of human geography and spatial studies, and by means of procedures such as extensive contractual negotiations with public and private agencies, as well as the appropriation, displacement, and recontextualization of a myriad of preexisting objects — from infrastructural fragments to museological artifacts — Daniel de Paula's practice proposes a radical comprehension of the the social relations hidden within the material reality that surrounds us.
The juxtaposition of distinct artifacts that, together, are capable of revealing hidden aspects of their respective materialities, precedences, and prior socio-political uses has been one of Daniel de Paula’s modus operandi throughout his career. The sculptural works developed within the power-flow series set together fragments of infrastructural submarine and subterranean data cables (responsible for the accelerated circulation of information that dictates our global financial system and media communications) and fulgurites, natural masses of vitrified or fused soil resulting from the electrical discharge of lightings over sand (evidence of the natural flow of time within geological formations). Finally, what both of these elements physically display are tactile manifestations of high powered forces, while, what they conceal, is their individual significance and how their artificial or natural origins can provide a contrasting glimpse upon our current capital-oriented relation with time and space.
On occasion of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo, Daniel de Paula, in collaboration with artists Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter, presented the work deposition (2018-), which centers around the displacement, exhibition, and reprogramming of a large-scale corn trading pit, salvaged from the Chicago Board of Trade and previously used throughout the decades for negotiating and determining the prices of grains for the global markets. Reinstalled at the heart of the modernist pavilion originally constructed to house agro-industrial fairs, the seven-tiered octagonal trading pit — a discarded embodiment of financial capital and liberal-economic ideology made obsolete by its own logics of abstraction and acceleration — was repurposed to host the exhibition’s public program, promoting discussions based on the different political, social, artistic and philosophical views that the object can symbolize.
Seen by Daniel de Paula as a video-negotiation, obscuration (2021) is a compilation of appropriated — through extensive negotiations with companies from the sector — drone inspection footage for ballast water, oil, and gas tanks within commodity transporting cargo ships. Although the muted video currently has the length of 38 minutes, it has an open-ended duration in which the artist incessantly adds and edits newly obtained images. Technical footage has fascinated Daniel for some time exactly because it brings to light hidden (although vital) parts of the enormous infrastructure required to maintain our economic system and consequently our sociability. To Daniel, the phantasmagoric and automated aspect of these footages is not coincidental. They precisely translate the shadow in which these high-cost structures are operated and kept. A shadow designed to create the deceitful illusion of a wire-less and weight-less economy.
In this series, titled deceptive physicality, veridical shadows (2021), the artist has collected and set together two commonly used templates for magazine watch advertisements. While the images on the right allude to the natural shadows cast by ancient solar watches, the ones on the left make use of geomorphological and mineral imagery to construct a sense of trust, precision, and immutability. Both, nevertheless, demonstrate how the abstract time of capital-oriented societies has dominated our bodies, and conscience, over what used to be a more nature-driven life, where the time of seasons, crops, day and night would guide us. Moreover, Daniel de Paula also cynically inverts the function of the advertisement — that of producing value to an exterior object — by generating value to the advertisement itself, shedding light to the mechanisms of desire and valuation that inform our subjectivity.
Daniel de Paula is a Brazilian visual artist and researcher that holds a bachelor’s in fine arts from Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado, and also studied in the Human Geography masters program at the University of São Paulo. He was awarded the Mondriaan Funds Proven Talent Award in 2020 and has exhibited widely including institutions such as: São Paulo International Biennial; The Arts Club of Chicago; Kunsthal, Gent; Museu de Arte Moderna (MASP), São Paulo; Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea (PAC), Milan; and Museu de Arte Contemporânea (MAC), São Paulo. de Paula was a 2018-19 artist-in-residence at the Jan Van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL). This year, he is participating in the 16th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art.