The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Skip to main content

Important Update

June 26, 2011 to January 8, 2012 |

Chelpa Ferro: Visual Sound

Independently renowned artists Barrão, Luiz Zerbini, and Sergio Mekler got together in 1995 under the umbrella “Chelpa Ferro”—Portuguese slang for money and steel—with the objective of doing some leisurely experimentation outside the constraints of their primary individual art careers. The Brazilian collective, based in Rio de Janeiro, take a fresh, somewhat chaotic, and savvy interdisciplinary approach to objects that they transform into animate sculptures and sound-creating devices, which has garnered them an important place in the Brazilian art world.

Chelpa Ferro’s artworks and performances acknowledge their audience by creating inescapable environments that envelop the viewer through sound. Sound is the vehicle that exalts, exaggerates, or contradicts the visual experience in their installations. Chelpa Ferro believe that any object can simultaneously be transformed into an instrument and a sculptural artwork, that any object has a visual, a sculptural, and an acoustic dimension. They highlight or contradict these dimensions with humorous exchanges that leave viewers in awe of the unexpected, encouraging a constant back and forth between what is heard, what is seen, what is experienced with the body, and what these relationships were expected to be.

The Chelpas squeeze a rhythmical sound from non-musical devices such as electric toothbrushes, blenders, drills, sewing machines, or juice makers, exploring the sounds that are the soundtrack of our contemporary world. Thus, they bring these sounds to our attention as relevant, as part of our cognitive and aesthetic lives. In the installations, sounds and their unexpected sources (electro-domestic objects) combine with high-tech equipment (speakers, cables, computers, and sophisticated computer programming) to provide a new visual representation of sound and confer an aura of mystery upon the mundane objects. The surprising combinations question the nature of art, and music vs. sound, in our modern, technology-driven, consumer society.

Mónica Ramírez-Montagut , Curator.