The Feast of Crumbs
Installation The Banquet of Crumbs, Marcos Zacariades, 2014. Photos: Rafael Martins
By Paulo Herkenhoff

I discovered the work of Marcos Zacariades, in 2019, at Art Rio and I was very impressed. At the time, I had no idea what else there was to his thinking, and now I see that it was just the tip of the iceberg. Even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the fair, I immediately thought that work would do a lot of good for the MAR (Museum of Art in Rio) collection, and Marcos generously agreed to donate it, but did not deliver the piece. I was afraid, after all, a piece donated and not collected could turn out to be a piece not received. Later I understood that it was an excess of rigor, he said that he was dissatisfied with some elements, that he needed to rethink and redo some questions. So, there, I already had an entire notion that he was a rigorous artist in terms of form.

Then we had another meeting in Rio and I had access to other images of his work and I thought of writing about him, we talked about his work, the exhibition, the book and, finally, I went to visit his show the mirrored time, on display in the underground basement of Vinícola UVVA, in the city of Mucugê, in the heart of Chapada Diamantina. It was a great revelation for me to find that exhibition, in that place, with that strength. I've been saying that, although I haven't seen everything that was exhibited this year in Brazil, but I've seen a lot, I think it's hard to have an exhibition that surpasses in formal rigor, in political and intellectual vigor, the exhibition that we have in that gallery today. Marcos' work has a wide scope, a very wide range. It's what I think is an epic work.

The scare started right on the first day and followed later with a visit to Igatu, a small village a few kilometers from Mucugê, where Marcos Zacariades lives and, since 2002, maintains the Arte & Memória Gallery. Igatu is a city of stones, and each stone has an unfolding story. These stones are life markers. I remembered Drummond's poem all the time – “in the middle of the road there was a stone” –, which could be a stone that demanded sweat, that caused pain, losses, but it could also be that stone that would be valuable and that its sale enough to guarantee the cottage cheese on the prospector's table.

I'm not saying it was an adventure, it was a discovery that maybe each of us Brazilians belong to that story. That story unfolds within each of us Brazilians because there, within that thought plant, dramas emerge, poetry emerges, the issue of work arises. It's what I call a diagram of otherness, of sociability, an art that thinks about giving back to society, thinks about the other, incorporates the other into the work and as an economic subject of the work. I think that what exists in Igatu and in the gallery at Vinícola UVVA is a gem that has not yet been brought to light, in terms of the Brazilian gaze.

This is a first question. The other issue was finding in that vastness the experience of UVVA and Fazenda Progresso. The work of the Borré Family is unique, exemplary, a paradigm. In addition to agribusiness and wine culture, there is art there. The winery boasts spectacular architecture, with furniture by Brazilian designers such as Sergio Rodrigues. There is a process of valuing Brazilian culture. And, when it comes to an art gallery that mixes with the barrels, which shows the soil of Chapada Diamantina with its layers, we are talking about a totality of perception of the world, human geography, cultural geography and this correlation between cultures .

When I see this revelation, what I can say is that Fabiano Borré is a modern businessman who understands that financial capital must also be converted into symbolic capital. I say this because I think he is on the side of great modern businessmen, like Ivoncy Ioschpe, like the Setúbal family with Itaú Cultural, like Julio Landmann in running the Bienal de São Paulo, and others who make this conversion of financial capital into symbolic capital, as a way of giving back to society part of what it earns through collective work.

Igatu is a place for modern women. I say modern in the sense of a woman who is not afraid to work to survive. There I met inspiring figures like Nívia, director of a school and also a great pastry chef, and Dona Zelita, almost 90 years old, still taking care of the house, her araçá tree. She is the woman who best knows how to sand a basin in Igatu and has the maxim that “what you need, you preserve”, which gives name to one of Zacariades' works. Everything is very intertwined, Igatu's tradition is also its modernity. Through Marcos, Igatu thinks of a modernity that is rooted in the tradition of diamonds, of gravel by Herberto Sales, in the innovation of Kátia, of Pipoca Moderna, an adapted popcorn cart that is in the square and in the school with books available to children.

So what remains for me is that Marcos Zacariades produces something absolutely unexpected. An exhibition that is a great argument in favor of renewing Brazilian civilization, which is capable of launching a cry against all types of violence, all types of destruction, all types of things that harm society, that harm bodies. It is an exhibition that says that a dialogue between differences is possible, a dialogue that comes from the deepest corner, which is also an exemplary center of the world. The center of the world is always where a great artist is. For me the big challenge now is to deal with this complexity. Is it possible to reduce this exposure to words? ✱

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