Announcing “Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi—A Marvellous Entanglement”
Nine-screen film installation offers a poetic tribute to the life and legacy of visionary modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi
New Haven, CT (June 2, 2023)—The Yale Center for British Art and the Yale School of Architecture will present an immersive multiscreen film installation by the British artist and filmmaker Sir Isaac Julien (b. 1960). On view at the Yale Architecture Gallery from August 24 through December 10, 2023, Lina Bo Bardi—A Marvellous Entanglement (2019) explores the life, work, and legacy of the visionary Italian-Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992).
“Isaac Julien is among the foremost artists working with film and moving image today. His unique poetic and visual language challenges our understanding of history, narrative, and place. A Marvellous Entanglement offers an intimate, compelling portrait of Lina Bo Bardi in which the beauty and dynamism of the modernist spaces that she designed create a visceral experience,” said Courtney J. Martin, Paul Mellon Director of the Yale Center for British Art. “It was especially gratifying to collaborate with our colleagues at the Yale School of Architecture to bring this installation to New Haven, where Bo Bardi’s designs find resonance with the modernist buildings on campus.”
Through a richly choreographed layering of images and sounds, A Marvellous Entanglement offers a lyrical meditation on Bo Bardi’s cultural, philosophical, political, and social views. A leading figure of postwar Latin American modernism, Bo Bardi designed some of Brazil’s most iconic art institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia, the São Paulo Museum of Art, the SESC Pompéia, and the Teatro Oficina. By combining excerpts from her writings with footage of these landmarks, Julien’s moving tribute to the architect intertwines Bo Bardi’s personal history with the buildings she created and the cultural fabric in which they are embedded.
“Lina Bo Bardi is a remarkable architect who is only now beginning to receive the international recognition she is due,” said Deborah Berke, Dean and J.M. Hoppin Professor at the Yale School of Architecture. “Her commitment to the transformative power of public architecture, improvisational approach to social spaces, and use of innovative, recyclable, and sustainable materials continue to inspire designers and students of architecture today. Isaac Julien’s film invites audiences to discover her talents and vision from a new perspective.”
In this new presentation envisioned for the Yale Architecture Gallery, A Marvellous Entanglement engages the brutalist elements of Bo Bardi’s public projects in dialogue with the School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph-designed building. This is the first time that the film will be shown in a school of architecture, a particularly apt location given Bo Bardi’s role as a teacher for the architecture and urbanism faculty at the University of São Paulo, as well as her legacy as a lifelong educator and advocate for the cultural and social potential of architecture, art, and design.
Julien first encountered Bo Bardi’s architecture during a visit to Brazil in 1996 and became more deeply enamored in 2012 when he exhibited his work at the SESC Pompéia which she has designed. Filmed on location at the SESC Pompéia as well as her other buildings in São Paulo and Salvador, such as Museum of Modern Art of Bahia and the Coaty Restaurant, A Marvellous Entanglement considers the role of museums and other art institutions as spaces where culture and history are not merely contained but also created.
The forty-minute-long film stars the Academy Award–nominated actor Fernanda Montenegro and her daughter, the Cannes-laureate actor Fernanda Torres, who portray Bo Bardi at different stages of her life, dramatizing passages from the architect’s letters and writings in the spaces she created. A Marvellous Entanglement is set to a score by German-Spanish composer Maria de Alvear and features a commissioned performance by the art collective Araká; an original dance choreographed by Zebrinha and performed by the Balé Folclórico da Bahia; and an appearance by José Celso Martinez Corrêa (known as Zé Celso), an actor, director, playwright, and co-founder of São Paulo’s Teatro Oficina, who was a close collaborator with Bo Bardi.
Projected on nine screens, the film unfolds in a nonlinear narrative that collapses past and present, juxtaposing different moments and points of view to invoke Bo Bardi’s belief in the liberatory promise of an open-ended history. The title encapsulates a passage from the architect’s writings that is repeated throughout the film: “Linear time is a western invention; time is not linear, it is a marvellous entanglement, where at any moment points can be chosen and solutions invented without beginning or end.”
Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi—A Marvellous Entanglement is organized by the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale School of Architecture. The exhibition is co-curated by Andrew Benner, Director of Exhibitions and Senior Critic at the Yale School of Architecture, and Rachel Stratton, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Yale Center for British Art.
About Sir Isaac Julien
Filmmaker and installation artist Sir Isaac Julien KBE RA (b. 1960) rose to prominence in late 1980s Britain amid a charged political climate of state-sanctioned racial violence and the AIDS crisis. For more than four decades, the artist has explored the potential of film to decenter colonial narratives and mine the complexities of desire, migration, race, and sexuality. Julien’s work has been exhibited at museums and galleries throughout Europe and the United States. He has exhibited twice at the Venice Biennale (2015 and 2017), as well as at the 7th Gwangju Bienniale, South Korea (2008); Prospect.1, New Orleans (2008); Performa 07, New York (2007) and documenta11, Kassel (2002). A major survey of Julien’s work, What Freedom is to Me was held at Tate Britain in Spring/Summer 2023. Julien has received many honors and awards, including the Royal Academy’s Charles Wollaston Award (2017), and Kaiserring Goslar Award in 2022. The same year, he was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.”
About Lina Bo Bardi
Architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992) was born and educated in Rome. In 1946, she moved to Brazil, where she developed a design philosophy rooted in the country’s diverse landscapes and culture. Her unique architectural language combines elements of vernacular design with international modernism, often incorporating parts of the existing built environment. Bo Bardi designed some of Brazil’s most iconic cultural institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia (1960), the São Paolo Museum of Art (MASP)(1968), SESC Pompéia (1977–1986), and Teatro Oficina (1984). These buildings embody her belief that architecture is a representation of civic life.
About the Yale Center for British Art
The Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, encompassing works from the fifteenth century to the present in a range of media. The museum offers a vibrant, year-round program of events and exhibitions in person and online. Presented to the university by collector and philanthropist Paul Mellon (Yale College, Class of 1929), the museum opened to the public in 1977. Visit the YCBA at britishart.yale.edu, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @yalebritishart.
About the Yale School of Architecture
The Yale School of Architecture is dedicated to educating architects, scholars, teachers, and leaders who will shape the future through design. Located in New Haven, Connecticut, the School offers the professional Master of Architecture degree, the post-professional Master of Architecture, and the research-based Master of Environmental Design. The School also hosts Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in architecture awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Yale College’s architecture and urban studies undergraduate majors.
The Yale Architecture Gallery is located on the second floor of Rudolph Hall, which houses the Yale School of Architecture, at 180 York Street in New Haven. The gallery is open weekdays (except holidays) from 9 am to 5 pm and on weekends from 10 am to 5 pm.