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IMAGINE BRAZIL: Considering space through artworks

Date and time
Tuesday, December 8, 2015

IMAGINE BRAZIL: Considering space through artworks

DHC/ART Education has created a pedagogical tool, IMAGINE BRAZIL: Movements, with the goal of encouraging visitors to develop and elaborate on key concepts examined in the IMAGINE BRAZIL exhibition. The concepts include anthropophagy, the everyday, heterogeneity and space. This week, we are presenting the fourth essay in the series, which explores the idea of space.

Considerations: Space

In Paris, Capital of the 19th Century, Walter Benjamin studied arcades, dioramas, world exhibitions, Art Nouveau, the Baudelarian flâneur, and Haussmann’s urban planning, all in an attempt to better understand how society organized itself at the time. The significance of Benjamin’s classic text is twofold: it allowed him to identify the particularities of the Parisian cultural landscape to better envision it as an ideological capital of the 19th century. For Benjamin, this spatial reflection was possible not only through the identification of “physical spaces or territories of artistic expression [1]” or the compatibility of these spaces with new ideologies; it also emerged in the “immediacy of the perceptible presence [2]”. Put another way, in order to understand the historical or conceptual significance of a space, it is not enough to theorize it; one must also experience it.

We propose using Benjamin’s method to reflect on the deployment of space in IMAGINE BRAZIL. Could we envision Brazil – or the image of it that emerges from the exhibition galleries – as a space that is symptomatic of our era? The chosen artists use myriad stylistic and thematic strategies to make visible their relationship to space: Mayana Redin’s use of postcards, Rivane Neuenschwander’s exploration of empty architecture, the juxtaposition of architectural styles in the sculptures of Rodrigo Matheus, road traffic in Cinthia Marcelle’s video, Cildo Meireles’ transformation of a consumer object into one of dispute, and Rodrigo Cass’ reconfiguration of the everyday object into an art material. These strategies suggest complex relationships to our actual landscape, exposing the tensions between centre and periphery, Brazil and the West, aesthetic and economic spaces, as well as between the materiality of space and its more abstract qualities. Thus, the exhibition offers more than a panorama of Brazilian contemporary art – it offers a framework for reflecting on the very notion of space in the 21st century as it is both adapted and defined by artistic activity.

What other works in the exhibition do you think consider space in an evocative way?

What are the links between the gallery space and other spaces explored in the various artworks? Do you see a close connection between these spaces? Can the exhibition space be understood as a representation of another kind of space?

DHC/ART Education

[1] Anahita Grisoni, “Marc Berdet, Fantasmagories du capital. L’Invention de la ville marchandise, Éditions La Découverte, Paris, 2013,” Développement durable et territoires, 4, 2 (2013), accessed October 22, 2015, https://developpementdurable.revues.org/9871.
[2] Walter Benjamin, “Paris, capitale du 19e siècle” in Das Passagen-Werk. (Francfort : Suhrkamp, 1982 [1939]) : 60.

Photo: Cinthia Marcelle, Autómovel [Automobile], 2012. Video, 7 min. 11 sec. Courtesy of the artist and Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo and Sprovieri Gallery, London.

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