Rodrigo Braga, Provision, 2009
*By Bitu Cassundé, Clarissa Diniz and Marcelo Campos

The “confessed difficulty” of critic Aracy Amaral in finding, in the exhibition À Northeast, the works of “Francisco Brennand, João Câmara or Miguel dos Santos” is understandable: they are not there. The pointed “reluctance [of the curatorship] to set aside everything that could be selected” or the “idea that nothing could escape the curators” reveals, in the commentary published in issue #47 of the ARTE!Brasileiros, the foundations of its own contradiction. These three artists – whose participation the critics were apparently taking for granted – are not part of the exhibition, contradicting their argument that the show would have been made unfeasible due to their supposed non-selectivity.

By criticizing what would be an exaggerated scope of curatorship while launching into a frantic In the search for the presence of absent artists, Amaral deviates from those who are actually there and from the urgencies surrounding inclusion within the scope of art and curatorial practice. If, historically, women, indigenous people, black people and trans people – among many – have been marginalized and made invisible in social life and in art, it is with pain and indignation that we arrive in 2019 with the same statistics, in unavoidable evidence of the perpetuation of coloniality. In this context, provoking the instances that produce the conditions of centrality and visibility seems necessary to us, hence our interest in flexing the question that criticism itself once posed to art, returning it as a self-critical and, perhaps, disruptive practice: curation so that ? Or even for whom?

Amaral’s comment – ​​which underestimates the audience’s intelligence, ignores “the stages” of the show (we prefer the idea of ​​“nuclei”, which, in this case, are eight), as well as checking the list of participating artists – is probably based on , in the frustrated desire to see their expectations about the Northeast fulfilled and illustrated. Guided by an individual and pre-existing cartography of the region's artists (evidently constituted throughout its historic and admirable trajectory), the critics did not even question their certainties about who they would come to meet. Sticking to a kind of fictional map of the exhibition, he attributed to the “labyrinth” the responsibility for the “difficulty” in accessing the naturally spectral works of Brennand, Câmara and dos Santos, thus missing the evidence that the landmarks of À Northeast Others are: Elielson Sayara, Marie Carangi, Pêdra Costa, Alcione Alves, Ayrson Heráclito, Saraelton Panamby & Naýra Albuquerque, @Saquinhodelixo, Nhô Cabolco, Goya Lopes, Zé de Chalé, Jota Mombaça, Jarid Arraes, Jayme Fygura, Zahy Guajajara, Mucambo Nuspano, Juliana Notari, Mestra Irineia, Romero Britto, Tertuliana Lustosa, Ana Lira, Gê Viana, Christina Machado, Michelle Mattiuzzi, Tadeu dos Bonecos, Marcelo d'Salete, Ramusyo Brasil, among many others. Passing by these landmarks, he did not see the bodies dancing crouching, the carnival of the insurgency, the sharpened knife, teile, defender, the trance, the quilombo, the doll, xs corpxs that generate, the kazumba, the cuceta, the moto-carranca , the crab, the castration, the memes, Exu, Oxum, Solange, Tibira, Yolanda, did not listen to the 97.5 FM radio nor did she realize that “everything is not right”: “when I woke up, there were 30 men on top of me”.

Probably feeling in the body – disciplined by pure reason – the vertigo produced by À Northeast in your project of occupation of spaces (a reference that interests us more than the “display” paradigm), Aracy Amaral avoided the analysis of what the show proposes to be, as he also seems not to have realized that it was designed to rub against the many stereotypes projected on the exhibition. North East. If the concern with the visibility of the works is the central operator of your critical commentary, what about the invisibility of dxs corpxs? It should be noted that, in the proposed curatorial project, other visibilities – social, political – were equally prioritized. If they cause discomfort because they coexist asymmetrically in the exhibition space, they do so due to the ethical-aesthetic concern of not simulating, through art, peaceful, framed, aseptic existences: neutralizing the violence of the worlds and lives of their creators. If the performance of Jota Mombasa and collaborators (cover of the aforementioned edition of Arte!Brasileiros) threatens and avenges because “we agreed not to die” (Conceição Evaristo), within the scope of curatorship, publicizing and sustaining conflicts and disagreements is a way of agreeing not to kill.

In this sense, if in the show it is not possible to “locate” the long-awaited artists of the already mapped imaginary about the region, the negligence of not questioning the reason for these absences is not greater than the critical blindness that prefers to ignore their inability to see: trained eye to see only what was once able to observe. If what was sought did not prove to be located, there is at least one to suspect that other trajectories, other intentions, other desires, other protagonisms, other urgencies, other artists, other northeasts are at stake. A critique that does not question its own expectations and assumptions will necessarily be an exercise in normativity – especially when carried out from historically privileged positions.

It is necessary, however, to emphasize a point that in fact brings us closer to Aracy Amaral's comment and with which we fully agree: just like a curatorship, a critique “is not an easy task to be conceived”.

Bitu Cassundé, Clarissa Diniz and Marcelo Campos 
are the curators of the exhibition À Nordeste, on view at Sesc 24 de Maio. In this text, they respond to the review by Aracy Amaral published in ARTE!Brasileiros 47.


  1. Other looks are needed! Congratulations on your consistency, looking forward to seeing this exhibition!

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