Commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary and guest curated by Thiago de Paula Souza, Topography of Memory marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States and largest all-ceramic work to date. The commission will be on view and open to the public from 5 to 17 December at the Collins Park Rotunda coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach.

Artist Sallisa Rosa has unveiled her new large-scale, ceramic installation titled Topography of Memory at the Collins Park Rotunda in Miami Beach. Marking the artist’s first solo presentation in the United States, the installation will be on view during Art Basel Miami Beach and until 17 December 2023. It is comprised of over 100 hand-made ceramic forms assembled from collected clay, creating an environment for visitors to explore. The work has been commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary, with the brand’s in-house curatorial team working closely with guest curator Thiago de Paula Souza to support Rosa’s vision and the creation of the commission. Topography of Memory will also be presented at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo next year from 16 March to 28 July 2024, marking the first time Audemars Piguet Contemporary will exhibit a commission in Brazil.

With Topography of Memory, Sallisa Rosa (b. 1986, Goiânia, Brazil) has created an immersive landscape that invites mediation and a physical encounter by the viewer. The sculptures on the floor are in the shape of stalagmites and resemble a cave, while the sculptures hanging from the ceiling are spherical, with their display recalling a planetarium. The landscape is cast in an amber light and immersed in soft mist, symbolically embracing the underground world and the infinite cosmos.

Composed of collected clay sourced by hand from Rio de Janeiro’s surrounding area, each sculpture was fired in an 800 degrees Celsius kiln housed in an underground pit, thereby offering a precise materiality that connects directly to the earth. Rosa’s process invites visitors to reconsider their relationship to memory and land, and to the environment as a site of culture and of identities.

With this commission, Rosa aims to explore our collective ways of remembering, drawing a connection between the erosion of the earth and the erosion of memory. Her use of collected clay, in recognition of traditional practices, is important to the commission as she believes ceramics have a symbolic capacity to store memory which can help us to remember.

Rosa, like many Brazilians of her generation, faces questions and confusion in trying to piece together her own ancestry. The fading memory of her grandmother, a core figure in bringing together the threads that make up her fragmented family history, is one of the main inspirations for Topography of Memory.

In her artistic practice, Rosa works across photography, video, performance, and installations. Her work explores the human connection to the earth. She is interested in collaborating with communities, echoing Audemars Piguet Contemporary’s belief that culture connects people. She frequently uses collected clay as a material with a unique connection to the earth, land, and territory. Previously working in Rio de Janeiro, Rosa recently relocated to Amsterdam to attend the Rijksakademie artist residency. Rosa’s new commission coincides with a solo showcase of the artist’s work at Art Basel Miami Beach, featuring new works in ceramics and watercolours prepared especially for the Kabinett sector of the fair, presented by A Gentil Carioca.

Audemars Piguet Contemporary worked closely alongside independent curator Thiago de Paula Souza in the realisation of Topography of Memory, supporting Rosa in this evolution of her artistic practice. De Paula Souza, who is originally from São Paulo and is currently based in Gothenburg, has curated numerous international exhibitions and brings extensive knowledge of Brazil’s contemporary art landscape. His collaboration with Audemars Piguet Contemporary on Rosa’s commission highlights the programme’s ongoing mission to support artists at various stages of their career in research, expertise, and artistic production, encouraging dialogue with global audiences.

“Topography of Memory is an immersive installation in which the earth takes centre stage. The earth is the place of memory. While shaping the clay, I encoded memories into each piece, turning them into extracorporeal memories. People can move through the work, and my intention is that this movement will activate collective memory.”

Sallisa Rosa (Artist)

“In Topography of Memory, Rosa builds upon the notion of “memory programming” introduced in her previous work. Each of the sculptures is a unique expression of Rosa’s memories. The installation mirrors an underground environment, bathed in earth-toned lights, where visitors will encounter interactions between the stories engraved in the ceramic objects and the memories embedded in each grain of soil within the installation.”

Thiago de Paula Souza (Guest Curator)

“It has been a wonderful experience to collaborate with Sallisa and Thiago on this commission. Audemars Piguet Contemporary is proud to support this milestone in her practice and to share this work with the cultural community gathered in Miami. We are excited for the public to experience the installation and be transported by the equally beautiful and emotionally-charged landscape that Sallisa has created.

Denis Pernet (Art Curator, Audemars Piguet Contemporary)

“Sallisa is an artist we have followed for years, as she has carved out a unique place for herself among the brilliant contemporary artists working in Brazil today. It is incredibly gratifying to see her work premiere for a global audience during Art Basel Miami Beach, and we are honoured to be presenting Topography of Memory in Brazil next spring at the Pinacoteca.”

Jochen Volz (General Director, Pinacoteca de São Paulo)

“We are thrilled that visitors to Miami will be able to experience Sallisa’s work within and beyond the fair halls as a highlight of the many culture offerings timed to Art Basel Miami Beach. Sallisa’s Audemars Piguet Contemporary commission expounds on the artist’s ongoing investigations into memory through materiality, in dialogue with her solo presentation in the Kabinett section of Art Basel Miami Beach. Art Basel is proud to partner with Audemars Piguet, which continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting the vision of artists.”

Vincenzo De Bellis (Director, Fairs and Exhibition Platforms, Art Basel)