daily mirror

Image: Rosângela Rennó


Comment on the video installation and book by Rosângela Rennó and Alicia Duarte Penna

In an interview given to Maria Angélica Melendi and Wander Melo Miranda, Rosângela Rennó attributes the genesis of daily mirror to a problem with the name itself. Attracted by the news about the kidnapping of a socialite called Rosângela, published in a newspaper in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, she began to collect articles about women with “such a popular name”, making a total of 133 texts.

The transformation of the news into a diary is entrusted to Alicia Duarte Penna, her collaborator in the script that will give rise to the video, in which the artist personifies “women I have never seen, I will not see and I do not know what they are like”.

At first glance, what attracts Rosângela Rennó's attention is the unusual aspect of the facts that became news. There is, however, a personal component to the project, which came about thanks to a Bolsa Vitae and funds obtained from the Guggenheim Foundation. As she states in the interview, the idea of ​​personifying all the Rosângelas was a way of resolving the difficulty in dealing with her own images and her own memory.

The transposition of true stories into a collage diary, which ironically refers to the English sensationalist newspaper Daily Mirror, has a peculiar aspect, as it transforms the reality of a group of women captured in traumatic moments of their lives or in the banality of everyday life into fiction. The monologues rehearsed in front of the camera attest not only their existence, but the very reality of the world they live in, at the same time different and based on watertight categories.

The game between differentiation and non-differentiation is one of the determining axes of daily mirror, structured from recurrent situations, stereotyped poses, repeated or almost identical costumes used in different circumstances. Thus, a heterogeneous subjectivity is configured, made of fragments and, above all, the usurpation of other people's moments of life, removed from the context of social communication and transferred to a hypertext, which gives them a new meaning, halfway between identity and otherness.

It is possible to apply daily mirror the question that Anne Sauvageot poses to Sophie Calle's work: why do other people's stories interest the artist? The answer given by the author helps to understand the device that underlies Rennó's video installation: increasingly multiple and contradictory, the images of oneself are imaginary experimentations of possible identities offered to everyday life by the fictitious realities of the mass media. By appropriating the life stories of her namesakes, Rosângela Rennó triggers an empathetic process, which leads her to question herself about the meaning of certain experiences and about the possibility of living them personally.

Although the Brazilian artist does not pursue a form of autobiography through the lives of others, the parallel with Sophie Calle will not seem abusive, if one remembers the instructions that Paul Auster gave her in gotham handbook (1994). By following the action script created by the writer, Calle not only opens up to the possibility of playing roles not determined by her, but ends up configuring another self, multiple and quite flexible. Rosângela Rennó faces the same challenge when she becomes co-author of the screenplay for daily mirror. The character called “Rosângelas” immediately confronts her with the problem of a subjectivity defined by the existence of other subjectivities, by the encounter with difference and, therefore, with the principle of alterity.

Since the character “Rosângelas” demonstrates that subjectivity can only be intersubjective, it is possible to see in daily mirror a manifestation of relational aesthetics, as it operates with the sphere of human interactions and their social context, as proposed by Nicolas Bourriaud.

The character “Rosângelas”, which is born from the encounter with the other, is a relational device, in the same way as the anonymous passers-by celebrated by Braco Dimitrijevic, the encounters with strangers provoked by Sophie Calle, the restaurant managed by Gordon Matta-Clark, the dinners organized by Daniel Spoerri, just to mention a few examples. The social context is present in the video installation. The short stories, which reveal disturbing situations, far from aspiring to a totality, prefer to explore the microscopic, the casual, the provisional, seeking an organizing principle in the multiple cuts of a banal and erratic daily life.

In the 2001 interview, Rosângela Rennó also states that she felt authorized to enter the territory of the other Rosângelas due to the impossibility of identifying with them, but the way chosen to configure this intersubjective universe allows us to problematize this assertion. With her body games, her facial mimics, her intonations, the videographic “Rosângelas” acquires a concrete, palpable dimension, becomes a being endowed with great plasticity, who opts for different expressive registers: distanced, ironic, pathetic, tragic, direct, self-absorbed. By acting in front of the camera, by enunciating the speeches of “Rosângelas”, the artist, despite her first intention, ends up becoming an interpreter, a convincing actress. This aspect stands out when one leafs through the book, which takes the reader inside the work process of the two authors, revealing the dialogue that is established between text and image, both in technical and expressive terms.

The reality-fiction game established in daily mirror seems to be the answer offered by the authors to the problem of individuality nowadays. Far from postulating a non-existent unity, the character “Rosângelas” attests that identity is a continuous construction, made of multiple roles and multiple stagings, which cannot be enclosed in the space of a biography, as it aspires to indetermination and constant transit.

* Annateresa Fabris is a professor at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. Author, among other books, of Antonio Lizárraga: a poetics of radicality (Edusp).

Originally published on Journal of Reviews no. 4, in August 2009.



  1. ADIEX daily mirror: http://www.rosangelarenno.com.br/obras/exibir/26/1
  2. Rosângela Rennó and Alicia Duarte Penna. daily mirror. Belo Horizonte / São Paulo, Editora UFMG / Edusp, 480 pages.


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