"The Creation n. 2: Obatalá and Exu", 1973, by Abdias Nascimento, number 58 March April May 2022 artebrasileiros.com.br Cover: Abdias Nascimento. Black Art Museum Collection | IPEAFRO. Photo: Fabio Souza / MAM Rio
The editorial director of arte!brasileiros, Patricia Rousseaux. Photo: reproduction

EToday there is a challenge for culture as a whole, which we understand involves deepening the discussion on how culture can advance in Brazil and in the world, within the scope of a democratic environment. 

Because, what democratic environment are we talking about? What democracy do we defend after having confirmed that a “democracy” prevails that continues not to recognize the devastating role of centuries of racism, oppression and authoritarianism, and where the results of colonialism continue to exclude only with new masks?

What kind of democracy is this that allows institutions to be equipped with repressive groups, that makes a point of curtailing culture and speech and encourages certain religious groups to install themselves in positions of power, in a supposedly secular state.

In the last ten years, debates have intensified about several of the identity struggles and the great minorities in our country and in the world. The increasingly relevant participation of the role of women in society, in defense of the inalienable right to her body, whether in defense of abortion or against harassment; their right to equal economic recognition and political participation. Its increasing empowerment has been widely debated and reported. All this raises the need for a greater presence of women in different levels of society.

Exhibitions like radical women at the Pinacoteca (Radical Women, in the USA), representatives in literature such as Paul Preciado and Judith Butler; Constitutional gains in defense of abortion in several countries have made enormous advances in the defense of this role possible.

The discussion in defense of the freedom of choice of gender, led by the LGBTQIA+ communities, environmental issues, the struggle for the autonomy of indigenous communities and the recognition of their lands and, finally, a true acceptance by society about the need to face The debate, in Brazil, on the brutal history of racism – denied and erased for centuries in the past and persistent in our colonial, capitalist present – ​​brought a very strong parallel movement to traditional institutional and corporate governance.

Museums were pressured to face the hiring of black and black professionals, curators and thematic studied artists and writers. The exhibitions were exceptional collective Afro-Atlantic Stories at Instituto Tomie Ohtake and at MASP.

Publishers began to publish true literary gems that had been forgotten, such as the books by Carolina Maria de Jesus, which was also shown at the Instituto Moreira Salles, in São Paulo. are also examples Black Skin, White Masks, by French-Caribbean psychiatrist and writer, Frantz Fanon; turn black, by Neusa Santos Souza; or Crooked Plow, the novel by the writer Itamar Vieira Junior that has just been adopted by the Bahia Department of Education. 

The art market, of course, “discovered” the importance of black Brazilian art and began to pay attention to exceptional national artists who were quickly recognized when discovered by the international public and today are in collections such as Inhotim, in Minas Gerais, or Pinault, in Minas Gerais. in Paris. 

The teacher and writer Márcio Seligmann-Silva states in his article in this issue:

“There is no physical violence that is not accompanied by symbolic violence. Studying the history of Afro-Brazilian art implies becoming entangled in centuries-old continuities of histories of symbolic and physical violence. It also implies the possibility of clearly envisioning not only the “dialectic of colonization”, which the playwright and theater director from São Paulo José Fernando Peixoto de Azevedo tells us in the epigraph, but the very “dialectic of enlightenment”, which Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer sought to describe how Europe went up in flames in the first half of the 1940s.” (Adorno & Horkheimer 1986)

After years of dictatorship, voting, of course, was an achievement, but it doesn't seem to be enough. It is necessary to create control tools for the participation of bodies, to suggest systems and debates on the importance of creating economic mechanisms for a more egalitarian society, to create repair tools.

One of the greatest Latin American essayists and thinkers, Beatriz Sarlo, who turns 80 this month, spoke in an interview with Ñ REVISTA DE CULTURA, 964, of the Argentine newspaper Clarín: 

“The trial of the three Military Juntas, which was faced by very few countries after the military dictatorships, was a fundamental moment of great ethical strength for democracy, and required great civic, ethical and subjective value.”

The function of testimony has a reparatory dimension, insofar as it verbalizes and produces the social recognition of a traumatic history. In Brazil, after ten years, it was shown that the creation of quotas at the university was successful, allowing large sectors of the black population to achieve improvements in education and in their employment and salary conditions.

At the same time, a movement began in several European countries restoring works that were taken from their countries of origin:

“Last November, for example, 26 works of art from the former Kingdom of Dahomey, which were on display at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, were returned to Benin. Since 2020, on the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron, a law has been in force that facilitates the return of works seized in the colonial period.”
Paris, restoration and memory culture, issue 57, arte!brasileiros.

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. has agreed to return most of its Benin bronze collection to Nigeria as part of a major restitution agreement, pressing other museums around the world to follow suit.

arte!brasileiros starts, then, to encourage this debate in Brazil. In this edition, we have chosen a special cast of thinkers, art critics, historians, psychoanalysts and journalists who bring, from different perspectives, elements to this discussion and whose objective is to convene our VII Seminar: Culture, Democracy and Reparation, to be held in the third week of September.

Leave a comment

Please write a comment
Please write your name