top of page

The Memory of the Hand



The hand that connect men with the thought`s duration, is action: grab, create and, sometimes, think. It is, specially, thanks to the hand that men takes over the world. If sight slides over the universe, the hand touches; knows how to determine the weight of an object and its texture; defines the emptiness of the space and the fullness of the things that fill it. The surface, volume, density and weight are essentially tactile phenomena. Tact animates the mysterious powers of nature. Without it, nature would look like landscapes of dark-light cameras, flat and chimeric.

It is through the hands that men created a concrete universe, different from nature. It is through the hands that men became an artist: “touches, feels, calculate weight, measure space, models the flow of air so that he can foreshadow the way he caresses the housing of all things, and it is with the language of touch he makes up the language of sight – a warm touch, a cold touch, a heavy touch, a hard line, a soft line.” The hand touches the universe, feels it, transform it, add a new kingdom to those of nature. Creating an unseen universe it leaves its mark everywhere. It faces the transforming substance, with the shape that transfigures. Educator of man, it multiplies it in time and space. (13)

Focillon’s observations on the creative power of the hands clearly apply to the action of Del Pilar Sallum. Her hands model sculpture shapes in a peculiar way: rolling and unrolling brass wires around the fingers and leaving on them physical and chemical marks. But it is not only the sculpture that the artist produces. The actions of rolling and unrolling let their vestiges in the hands that manipulate the substance, creating, then, a peculiar engraving (14), both concrete and metaphoric at the same time.

While rolling and unrolling the wires, Del Pilar Sallum updates the feminine gesture, made of repetition and patience, and propose a path, or better, a maze, in which is registered a concrete temporality, physical, which is essentially duration. Her actions oscillate between excess and sobriety: if the sculptures are composed by accumulation, the pictures recorded in photomontage and videos show smooth lines, sometimes imperceptible, provided with their own pace, wherein the repetition is revealed as physical and psychological memory simultaneously. 

With its repetitive gestures, which successively construct and deconstruct, seems to make the world's non-architecture, which is historically attributed to women (15). It is, however, a non-architecture particle, which structures the form and hides the shaper design, interested more in the trace than in the capture of concrete gesture. Or that, by multiplying and the inversion it refers to a void that only the time, understood as a path, can fill. The true substance of Del Pillar Sallum operations ends up being her solitary and silent work, on the verge of exasperation which the memory of the hand turns into an artistic attitude. A memory registered on the substance and on the skin, both of them subject to a transformation process in which the determining element is, undoubtedly, the confront between the symbolic and concrete, the archetypical and the excessive and a physical fragment that seeks the expansion of their own possibilities and limits. A memory that is configured from the continuous exchange between substance and body and without which both of them couldn’t be transformed into physical and symbolic energy at the same time.


(13) Henri Focillon, "Éloge de la Main", en Vie des formes, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1970, pp. 101-28.


(14) Maria Isabel Ribeiro White, "Del Pilar Sallum" in Del Pilar Sallum-Rosa Esteves, Sao Paulo, Itaúgaleria 1995.


(15) Boetti, "La Memoria delle Mani", op. cit. P. 157.


"The memory of the hand traversing paths: hypothesis about the current Brazilian art" in Revista USP, São Paulo, No. 40, p. 68-77, December / February 1998-99



Maria Izabel Branco Ribeiro

Del Pilar Sallum

Del Pilar Sallum (english)

Maria Izabel Branco Ribeiro


Os Fios da Matéria

Materic Threads

Stella Teixeira de Barros



Time Hand

Stella Teixeira de Barros

A Mão Revelada

The Revealed Hand

Stella Teixeira de Barros


Temporada de Projetos

Seasons of Projects

Cristiana Mazzucchelli


bottom of page