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Critics

2004: Juan Carlos Romero - "Puro Placer", 29/08/04

Playing is a purely entertaining pleasure, and toys and games offer us many magical rituals, some of which date back to the very dawn of civilization. Although pure pleasure appears to be just as simple, the place of this kind of ingenuousness is now taken by the video games that demand from us something more than mere skill to confront the occasional rivals. In their long history through centuries past, many toys and games have managed to preserve their essence, albeit with improved manufacturing. Spinning tops, made out of the most diverse materials - from shells, wood, or metal to the unmistakable plastic ones - are an example of these. Spinning tops were recommended by Cato to Romans in an attempt to get them away from dice playing. Spinning tops are a metaphor for human life, if thrown with sufficient skill and in the right direction, they can spin at vertiginous speed, but will quickly stop if the thrower lacks the competence to make the spinning last. Object, time, and hand, combined in one single gesture, will determine how lasting, undisturbed, and lively the persistence of such circular movement will be. In her engravings, Silvia Brewda has found the language that uncovers the secret of spinning tops' essence. Each image makes us discover the subtle and secret creative shape of the most sophisticated turns. The spinning top engravings are the starting point of a path that takes Brewda to contemporary toys and games, the path flowing from pure entertaining pleasure to the discriminatory competition featured by "Barbie", that unreal and far-from-magical doll whose image embodies all that can be said about consumerism and the dramatic social differences of contemporaneity. Sophisticated characters, emblematic drinks, and mythical cars are but a portion of a wide and complex catalog of consumer products. Drugs, or some "monster producing" elixirs accompany Barbie and her male friend to the most absurd and unreal of worlds. But, what is it left of the old toys and games? Little indeed. In his book "Homo Ludens", Johan Huizinga asserts that "The genuine, pure toy or game is one of the main foundations of civilization." Civilization is currently undergoing a severe disease that allows me to assert that human beings are no longer playing. Today's entertainment products are only aimed at the most cruel confrontation in both individual and group games. A profitable business and a clear message pointing to where power is, are behind every toy and game. But going back to the paradigmatic icon of our post times, Barbie, Brewda takes it to round up her toy and game exhibition, which she meaningfully names, Piedra Libre [literally Home Free , the Spanish for 'not tagged' in the 'hide and seek' game]. From the mythical spinning tops to the rigid and paradigmatic Barbie, Brewda takes us through a path full of obstacles as if in clear reference to hiding and seeking. Metaphors for human action appear once again, as do questions about our own place, our hide-out, our mask to mislead others. Once there, thinking about survival strategies and cover up dresses is a must. To produce the change whenever the opportunity arises, Barbie and her wardrobe are the inescapable recourse - different garments, hair colors, hairdo styles, skin colors. All formats are available to serve the purposes of simulation. Turning a spinning top, concealing like Barbie, hiding oneself as in the hide and seek game are just a few of the many visible marks in the works of Silvia Brewda, an artist concerned with human life. Mastering the tool was as necessary to achieve the results evidenced in the works as to convey such feeling as Brewda does in her intelligent and subtle graphic works. Is playing a purely entertaining pleasure? This is the question that remains to be answered after contemplating the Piedra Libre exhibition.