Press release

Press information / Press conference: Thu, 02.02., at 10 am

With “Disobedient Tools” (04.02. – 29.05.23), Museum Marta Herford presents the first survey exhibition of internationally renowned artist Cinthia Marcelle (*1974 in Belo Horizonte, lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil) in a German-speaking country. Since the late 1990s, she has been critically examining established and hierarchising social structures that organize our everyday interactions in videos, sculptures, photographs, installations, and performances. Her approach is clearly indebted to the politically engaged art practices of Brazil from the 20th century, which combined abstract material experiments with conceptual rigor and unique participatory processes.

The exhibition at Marta Herford shows newly developed site-specific and materially charged installations, stunning videos, and constructivist works on paper dating from 1998 to today. The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the essay “Herramientas Desobedientes” (Disobedient Tools, 2018) by Mexican author and activist Gabriela Jauregui. In her text, Jauregui explores how to break out of established patriarchal and western systems of thought. She recognizes the transformative and emancipatory potential of collective negotiations between various equal parties. In this sense, Jauregui’s thought reflects the core ideas and working processes of Cinthia Marcelle’s work, which are the focal point of her exhibition at Marta Herford: breaking free of ingrained patterns that shape our thinking and produce hierarchical social structures. Marcelle calls into question conventional role designation, familiar perspectives and behaviors, and supposedly fixed binary opposites, such as order – chaos, fiction – reality, rule – exception, subjugation – resistance, or inner – outer. In different ways, Marcelle’s oeuvre repeatedly shows that the meaning of conventions, norms, patterns, or even materials is never fixed and can always change depending on one’s point of view.

At the heart of the exhibition at Marta Herford is the two-part work “A família em desordem” (The Family in Disorder, 2018/ 2023). Installed in separate rooms, each part consists of the same combination of simple materials, which are neatly stacked to form a barricade: including bricks, barrels, soil, chalk, stones, shoelaces, matchboxes, cotton fabric, masking tape, paper, and Velcro tape. For one setting, Marcelle commissioned a group of seven freelance art mediators and art handlers who have known the museum for several years to work collaboratively over six days, without the artist, to destroy the barricade structure and generate a new form. No external aids or tools were permitted. All materials had to be moved and the entire exhibition space had to be used. “My work starts with a proposition—for a gesture, an action, a group of people—to reinvent, relearn and reorganize. At its core, it’s about a very simple premise of renewal: an agreement to break free and reframe hegemonial ideas, scenarios, and material conceptions in order to transform the foundations of an institution and a public space into something we might call a community,” says Marcelle, describing the approach underlying not only “A família em desordem” but also many of her other works. In the space, the traces of this development along with the playful approach of the participants towards the materials are manifested in a striking artistic formal language, which was not produced by the genius of the artist but was created as a collaborative process. The second setting of “A família em desordem” shows the initial situation, the raw state of the work, so to speak. Here, the barricade is installed in a way that divides the room and hinders the customary path through the exhibition space. Visitors encounter one another from across this dividing line and are then forced to turn around and view the exhibition again from the other side.

“A família em desordem” is also a material retrospective of Marcelle’s work. It consists of twenty different materials that are in one instance neatly folded, rolled, or stacked and in another are opened up, scattered, and shown in full length. Other works in the exhibition also manifest Marcelle’s multi-faceted approach and her various interpretations of the same materials. For example, in “Obra dinâmica: à procura de sentido” (Dynamic Work: Seeking Meaning, 1998/ 2022), a participatory work and the earliest in the exhibition, the same kind of Velcro band is presented in different ways. Under the supervision of the visitor service or together with educators, visitors are permitted to deinstall the works and reinstall them in a new way at another location.

In “em-entre-para-perante #2” (in-between-to-towards #2, 2015/ 2023) shoelaces were used to bandage tools and thereby defunctionalize them, whereas in “Por via das dúvidas #3” (Just in Case #3, 2009) and “Explicação” (Explanation, 2009) masking tape was repurposed to create constructivist compositions, as was cardboard in “Temporário” 13 and 14 (Temporary 13 and 14, both 2023). Usually used to cover or protect something, these materials take on their own compositional qualities in Marcelle’s work. Red earth, based on the soil in Minas Gerais, where Marcelle comes from, fills the barrels of “A família em desordem” and is also found on the fence posts of “Cerca Miragem (300 mourãos)” (Fence Mirage (300 posts), 2005/ 2023), which are presented in an inverted position suggesting an intermediary state. They carry the potential to enclose, set boundaries, and exclude but are currently not fulfilling these purposes. This open-ended approach to materials is programmatic of Marcelle’s work and conveys how assignments of meaning are not fixed but are always dependent on the viewer and contextualization.

“A família em desordem” is an experiment, which plays out on a small scale how we (want to) live and work together as a society in accordance with a democratic ideal. Marcelle emphasizes methods of collective negotiation as a means of breaking open and renegotiating ingrained mechanisms and organizational forms. This premise forms the basis of many of her video works, in which she also transfers the shaping of a narrative, the fundamental conditions of which she determines in advance, to a group of people who create something together. The protagonists are never actors but laypeople who themselves decide how they will play and embody their roles. The video work “Nau/Now” (2017), co-authored with artist Tiago Mata Machado, was produced in conjunction with Marcelle’s exhibition at the Brazilian Pavilion of the 57th International Art Exhibition – Biennale di Venezia in 2017. For this work, the two artists commissioned construction workers with removing a roof, working from the inside of the building—an inversion of the usual job with which the workers were tasked. Normally symbolizing protection, the roof is hereby deconstructed. The result is a metaphor for social protest against an institution that is supposed to provide protection and stability but does not fulfill this promise. The work “Confronto” (Confrontation from the series “Unus Mundus”, 2005) has a similarly revolutionary quality. The camera is pointed at an intersection where the same pattern unfolds repeatedly. Each time the light turns red, a group comes out—at first two, then four, then six jugglers who juggle with flares on the crosswalk in front of the cars. When the light turns green, they move to the side and let the cars pass. When they appear as a group of eight, juggling on the crosswalk, the routine is then interrupted when the light turns green. They continue their performance, and as a group they form a barricade, hindering the flow of traffic dictated by traffic regulations, in this case embodied by the stoplight. A loud concert of honking horns is initiated by the angry drivers who consider themselves robbed of their right to drive on. By their actions, the street performers question the existing legal order and an accustomed mechanism, which is usually never called into question, because it has become so internalized. Thereby a familiar system is suspended, and the instability of this system is revealed.

Cinthia Marcelle links art and the everyday by focusing on ordinary situations and behaviors and turning them into poetic, metaphorical actions and images—often revealing the absurdity of internalized routines. “In Marcelles work, references to Neoplasticism, Arte Povera, and Conceptual Art merge with Brazilian influences, such as Neoconcretism, Cinema Novo and Marginal, and popular culture practices like Capoeira Angola, which is rooted in the Afro-Brazilian tradition. Marcelle’s abstract and metaphorical pictorial language opens up a depth of interpretations and reflections about how we live together and organize production processes,” reflects Anna Roberta Goetz, curator of the exhibition. Kathleen Rahn, the director of Museum Marta Herford describes the exhibition’s relevance for the museum: “Marcelle’s solo exhibition marks the beginning of our annual programme with an internationally well-known artist, who has not yet been exhibited in Germany. We are offering her our unique space to demonstrate how a collaborative process can lead to fascinatingly beautiful and intelligent works and thus also to inspiring discussions and realizations.”

On the occasion of Marcelle’s exhibition at Marta Herford, the first extensive monograph on the work of the artist since the late 1990s is being published in cooperation with Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) by Kerber Verlag. Including five essays and numerous illustrations, the publication provides the first complex examination and analysis of Marcelle’s work as a reflection of diverse social discourses.


Cinthia Marcelle was born in 1974 in Belo Horizonte (Brazil). She lives and works in São Paulo. The significance of Marcelle’s oeuvre has been recognized through numerous project-specific solo exhibition at venues including Wattis, San Francisco; Modern Art Oxford; MoMA PS1, New York; and PinchukArtCentre, Kiev. She has also contributed to group exhibitions at Tate Modern, London; SFMOMA, San Francisco; Museu de Artes Visuales de Santiago, Chile; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco and established biennials, such as the 10th Berlin Biennale (2018), the 11th and 12th Sharjah Biennale (2013 and 2015), the 13th Istanbul Biennale (2013), and the 29th São Paulo Biennale (2013). In 2017 she was the featured artist of the Brazilian Pavilion at the 57th Biennale di Venezia. Most recently, her work was presented in two retrospective exhibitions: at MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona and at Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) (both 2022) — and now also at Marta Herford.

In addition to her artistic practice, Marcelle is one of the co-founders of Casa Chama — an NGO founded by trans people with the support of cisgender allies, whose socio-political and cultural actions aim to ensure the emancipation, appreciation, and quality of life for transgender people, based on an antiracist and anti-transphobic ethic. Marcelle acts as a cis-ally in the civil registration of name and gender and at the Frente Cultural (Cultural Front) at the NGO.

Exhibition benefactors


Fri 03.02., 6–10 pm, exhibition opening, free admission to the exhibitions “Cinthia Marcelle – Disobedient Tools” in the Gehry-Galleries and “Tobias Zielony – Dark Data” in the Lippold Gallery, food and drinks in the Marta Café by André Sasse (cash only)

7 pm at Marta-Forum, welcoming words by Tim Kähler, Mayor of the Hanseatic City of Herford and Kathleen Rahn, Marta Director, introduction and artist talk with Cinthia Marcelle and Anna Goetz, Marta Curator

from 7.30 pm, “Outernational Sounds” by Dj Mila Szq at Marta Café

Sun 26.03., 2 pm, At Marta with … José B. Segebre Salazar (theoretician) and Marta Curator Anna Goetz through the exhibition “Cinthia Marcelle – Disobedient Tools”

Wed 26.04, 19.30 pm, conversation between Paula Macedo Weiss (Brazilian-German jurist, author and curator) and Malcolm Ohanwe (German journalist, TV presenter and translator)

Wed 17.05, 6.30 pm, conversation between Marta Curator Anna Roberta Goetz and Gabriela Jauregui (author of the essay “Disobedient Tools” (2018)), digital event in English

Sun 21.05., 11 am to 6 pm, International Museum Day, free admission to the exhibition “Cinthia Marcelle – Disobedient Tools” and open creative activities for children and families

12 pm Talk with the curator and co-authors of the installation “The Family in Disorder”

1–5 pm Marta Art Mediators will be available to answer questions and talk about the art in the exhibition spaces

Sun 29.05., 3 pm, Last look at the exhibition with curator Anna Roberta Goetz


Press information

This press release and printable press pictures for the exhibition can be found in the press section at The password for access to the images is: M4rt4pr3ss3
We will be happy to provide background information and interviews on the exhibition.
For this and any other information you can reach us at tel. +49 (0) 5221-99 44 30-27 or by e-mail at

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Exhibition information

Cinthia Marcelle – Disobedient Tools

Director Kathleen Rahn

Curator Anna Roberta Goetz

Graphic design nathow & geppert (Bielefeld)

Exhibits Videos, sculptures, photographs, installations and performances

Artist Cinthia Marcelle


Title: Cinthia Marcelle – When in doubt
Texts: Eungie Joo, Anna Roberta Goetz, Leandro Muniz, Adriano Pedrosa, Kathleen Rahn, Ana Raylander Mártis dos Anjos, Isabella Rjeille
Format: 17 × 24,5 cm
Size: 280 pages, hardcover
Language: German, English
Editors: MASP and Museum Marta Herford
Overall production: Kerber Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7356-0909-0
Price during the exhibition at Marta Herford: 35€ / bookstore price and price after the exhibition: 40€

Exhibition area ca. 1200 qm

Duration 04.02. – 29.05.23

Exhibition venue Marta Herford (Gehry Galleries), Goebenstraße 2–10, D-32052 Herford

Opening hours Tue – Sun and on public holidays 11 am – 6 pm, Wed 11 am – 8 pm, closed on Good Friday and on 24th, 25th and 31st December, open from 1 pm on New Year’s Day.

Tel.: +49-5221-99 44 30-0, Fax: Tel. +49-5221-99 44 30-23



Marta Partners

Marta sponsors The City of Herford, Marta Friends and Supporters

Corporate Premium Partners Sparkasse Herford, Wemhöner Surface Technologies GmbH & Co. KG, Herbert Kannegiesser GmbH

Corporate Partners Hettich Unternehmensgruppe, imos AG, inometa GmbH, Peter-Lacke GmbH, Schaper Elektrotechnik GmbH & Co. KG, Brax Leineweber GmbH & Co. KG

Founding partners The Land of North-Rhine Westphalia, the Hanseatic City of Herford

Media and advertising partners Zeitungsverlag Neue Westfälische GmbH & Co. KG, Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung GmbH & Co. KG, fine print – digital druck GmbH, T+A elektroakustik GmbH & Co. KG

Cultural partner WDR 3

Marta Patronage Fund for New Art Marion Dueball, Hettich Unternehmensgruppe, Leo and Ulrike Lübke, Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG, Joachim and Elisabeth von Reden, Schaper Elektrotechnik GmbH & Co. KG, Sparkasse Herford, Guido Strunck, Wemhöner Surface Technologies GmbH & Co.