Since June 27, Rio de Janeiro has witnessed the greatest international exhibit the city has ever seen. Organized by curators Rodrigo Moura, director of art and cultural programs at Inhotim, and Adriano Pedrosa, the artevida exhibit [literally, art&life] aims to tell the history of art based on references not found in major cultural centers. The exhibit features about 300 works of art by 110 artists from South America, Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Some of them, such as Brazilian artists Lygia Pape, Hélio Oiticica and Cildo Meireles, can also be seen at Inhotim.
The name of the exhibit was not chosen by chance. For the neoconcretist movement that first appeared in Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s, art should establish dialogs and tensions related to aspects of life and of the world. This attitude was essential to form Brazilian contemporary art. On display at Casa França-Brasil, Parque Estadual Library and Parque Lage, the exhibit also expands to MAM Rio (Museum of Modern Art), starting this coming Saturday, July 19, with the opening of its second segment. Inhotims Blog talked to artevida curators, who told us a little bit more about the project. Read more below!
Inhotims Blog The exhibit gathers countries in the Southern Hemisphere to offer another look towards the history of art. How did this idea come about?
Adriano Pedrosa and Rodrigo Moura The research regarding the artists has been happening throughout the past several years. Many of the foreign and Brazilian artists are professionals we have worked with before. The sets and subsets of works were chosen based on knowledge and reflection on these works, but, above all, considering Brazilian perspectives. Thus, the section artevida (body), at Casa França-Brasil, has clusters of Brazilian and foreign works based on Bicho, Linha orgânica (both by Lygia Clark), on Tecelar (by Lygia Clark), on Parangolé (by Hélio Oiticica), generating close relationships that revisit the orthodox geometric abstraction, suggesting an organic and body-conscious form of thinking about the object and emphasizing the body as an activator of the artistic experience. On the other hand, in the section artevida (politics), thematic clusters are related to dictatorship regimes, war, violence, elections, censorship, demonstrations, work, feminism, racism, and seek this parallel between contexts which apparently are not connected, but that bear some kind of relationship with the Brazilian people.
IB How do the works chosen relate to hegemonic narratives in contemporary art?
AP and RM The exhibit looks towards the Brazilian production as a matrix and filter, so as to consider broader, more global relationships between different artistic contexts. We have prioritized this dialog with production hubs which are somehow closer to us, either because they share with us a colonial and post-colonial history, or recent history of authoritarian regimes, or, simply, because they are far from hegemonic production centers. There is a desire to untie an affiliation model that always goes through the center so that production can be legitimized. This doesn’t mean we deny our relationship with Eastern Europe and the United States at all.Actually, there are some artists from these regions present in the exhibit. What we propose are new dialogs, which have not yet taken place. If, in the first part, which we opened at Casa França-Brasil last month, this dialog happens by way of the body, whether through geometry or self-portraits, in the section that opens next Saturday at MAM Rio, this dialog happens through politics. This doesnt mean an evolution in time, but rather a difference, a modulation of the curatorial framework.
IB Some of the names featured in the exhibit are present in Inhotims collection, such as Hélio Oiticica, Geta Bratescu and Hitoshi Nomura. How does the Institutes collection dialog with this proposal to see art history from another angle?
RM It seems to me, this dialog happens in a very important way. As we mention in artevidas curatorial statement, this is not an exhibit of a thesis, but of many hypotheses. This polyphonic representation is something I learned working in the formation of the collection, when this happens all the time. The artists youve mentioned have a very important place at Inhotim, precisely because they found such fertile soil when it comes to dialogs with Brazilian artists, they are central to building a narrative of what Inhotim represents as art: Lygia Pape, Cildo Meireles and Hélio Oiticica, for instance, are represented with such important works in our collection. At Inhotim, weve recently delved into areas we just knew superficially before, such as Western Europe and Japan, which have not yet been completely revealed, but that start to appear in exhibits at the Institute. This is the case of the individual exhibit by Romanian artist Geta Bratescu, at Galeria Lago as of September, and Do Objeto ao Mundo – Coleção Inhotim, at Palácio das Artes in December and at Itáu Cultural next year. In these exhibits, we are going to show quite a lot of Japanese material that have great resonance with the art produced in Brazil in the same period.
Interested? Then plan to visit artevida!The exhibit will be open until September 21, 2014.
Rodrigo Moura (left) and Adriano Pedrosa (right) at Parque Lage, where part of the exhibition takes place. Photo: Leo Aversa