I write this editorial at a critical moment in Brazil's recent history.
On the 22nd and 23rd of September, we presented, in partnership with Sesc, the Seminar on Culture, Democracy and Reparation, at the Vila Mariana unit, in São Paulo.

This edition brings some of the central questions raised by the speakers (the Seminar, recorded in its entirety, can be watched free of charge on digital channels of arte!brasileiros and Sesc) and by employees. When the magazine is launched, we will still not know the result of the presidential elections in the second round in the country.

Anyone who knows us knows that we understand culture and art as something totally related to nature, not in opposition to it. Art as a reflection of our time, when contemplation alone is no longer enough. Now, we have the obligation to think about art and culture intertwined in the defense of a democratic ideal of coexistence and to reflect on how we can contribute, from our small space, to the overthrow of obscurantism and backwardness. It is impossible to declaim about aesthetics and ethics, imagining that we can omit ourselves in an alienated way.

A arte!brasileiros publicly supports the vote for the broad democratic front formed by different coalitions and movements of the popular force, against the candidacy of the current president Jair Bolsonaro, whose government has devastated us during these last four years with proposals that we know well and that, with the greatest cynicism, passes behind the scenes laws that withdraw investments from science, education, culture, health and the environment, putting them at the service of reelection.

After all, what democracy are we defending?

As if centuries of social inequality, denial of structural racism, indiscriminate violence against entire indigenous peoples were not enough, from the 1980s onwards neoliberalism gave way to a new type of concentration of power, not only economic, but also cultural. Growing offerings of solutions to secure privileges popped up. Closed neighborhoods in condominiums, licenses for private uses in places with a community profile, rejection of others and attacks on those who think differently, among some examples, ended up creating a hostile environment for public space, which ends up not being seen as the basis for a society civilized, but the exception.

In these years, the vocation for individualism was stimulated: in the way of living, of consuming, of living together, of creating. The construction of increasingly closed social groups, which are fed back by the functioning and control of algorithms that determine who is who, who is worth what.

In this tune, art was also captured. Works have become merchandise and, in a true dance of chairs, several of the professionals we see today running cultural institutions come from the financial market or the business sector, with the excuse or the need to ensure that their privileges continue to exist. In this way, a perverse circuit puts in the hands of buying and selling something that should be at the service of all. In the last four years, in which the State has cut investments, institutions have had to choose to stop part of the participatory initiatives, cut curatorial teams, educational programs, conferences and performances.

We have reached a new, cyclical impasse.

It is necessary to create mechanisms to encourage plurality in culture, we need professional advice that is exempt from the needs of the market. Academics need to learn management, to direct their efforts so that institutions strike a balance between public and private sponsorship. And market professionals need to raise funds for this to happen, with clear rules.

I quote here the philosopher Jacques Rancière in Hate to Democracy, written in 2005:
"The laws and institutions of formal democracy are the appearances behind and the instruments with which the power of the bourgeois class is exercised. The struggle against these appearances then became the path to a 'real' democracy, a democracy in which freedom and equality would no longer be represented in the institutions of law and the state, but would be embodied in the very forms of material life and society. sensitive experience”.
“The new hatred of democracy can then be summed up in a simple thesis: there is only one good democracy, the one that represses the catastrophe of democratic civilization.".

One of our guests for the Seminar, the philosopher and writer Hal Foster, who was unable to travel and be with us, developed, in his book What comes after the farce, the idea that this act, this ruse, almost comic and burlesque in which we are immersed, could be interpreted as an interlude, an interregnum, which could give us hope that another time will come. In his words, “nothing is guaranteed, everything is a struggle.”

We have the opportunity, in a moment of political upheaval like the one we are experiencing, to find gaps in the social order through which it is possible to resist and re-elaborate the rules with which we are living. We have the possibility to believe that caring for the other is a creative attitude, as well as building a collective curatorial project or encouraging collective works like those presented in documents fifteen, in Kassel. There, through the concept of lumbung, collective work groups carried the intention of denouncing fascism, defending nature, differences and friendship. This is the task that, more than ever, falls to us now.

Leave a comment

Please write a comment
Please write your name