CAt only 36 years old, the artist, collector, gallery owner and cultural manager Marcos Amaro has become in recent years a prominent and recurring name in contemporary art circles in the country. In addition to its artistic production and its link with the market through the Kogan Amaro gallery, what most draws attention is the consolidation, in a short space of time, of FAMA Museu e Campo – a vast museum of contemporary art and a space dedicated to land art – and a series of educational projects and the promotion of contemporary art in the country.
With a collection of around 2 works by artists from different periods and styles – borrowed from Amaro's personal collection -, the Marcos Amaro Art Factory (FAMA), located in a historic building in the center of Itu, opened its doors to the public in 2018. As a private non-profit cultural organization - entitled Associação para Futura Fundação -, the FMA constituted a governing body, an advisory board and a team of employees of about 40 people. At the end of 2019, FAMA Campo also opened, dedicated to contemporary art on a large scale and in open space (in Mairinque) and, at the beginning of 2020, it was preparing for the inauguration of a large exhibition of drawings by Tarsila do Amaral – recently incorporated to the factory collection (read here).
A week before the opening, the institution had to close its doors because of the coronavirus pandemic and, now, about 8 months later, FAMA reopens its doors with this and two more exhibitions. Tarsila do Amaral – Studies and Notes; the collective Ontologies, by Cabral, André Albuquerque (Kandro) and Marcos Amaro; and the individual reject, by Marcelo Moscheta, will occupy the spaces of the Factory from this Saturday, November 14th. FAMA Campo, in turn, is preparing to exhibit, perhaps this year, a new work by Carlito Carvalhosa, commissioned after the artist won the Marcos Amaro Art Prize this year.
In conversation with arte!brasileiros, Amaro spoke about his work in different areas and the challenge of separating the works, so that there are no conflicts of interest between them. “When we clarify the visions of each project, of each initiative, from the start you already make clear what you can and what you can't”, he says. As a manager, he also celebrated the consolidation of the FAMA project – which received 10 students in 2019 – and the institution’s potential: “In a region of very high population density, the museum is one of the few, perhaps the only one, with this vocation of contemporary art. So this can definitely contribute a lot to the path of visual arts in this region.”
Amaro also spoke about the privileged situation of the Foundation on the national scene, since it is financed with resources from the artist himself, but he regretted the context for the arts in Brazil: “It is sad, as a citizen, to think that we have a country with so many opportunities, cultural and artistic diversity like Brazil, so many powers, and that not be optimized and channeled, even in a state way”. Read the full interview with Marcos Amaro below.
ARTE!✱ – Before talking about the reopening of FAMA, it would be interesting for you to tell a little about the history of the institution. It can be said that it is a space that in a very short period of time has consolidated itself as an important cultural institution in the Brazilian art scene. What do you think this is due to?
Although FAMA is relatively young, if you consider the opening date, the Foundation's project is older, from 2012. So I would say that this construction over the years, this conceptual building, even helped a lot to get here. . And it also helped a lot in the impression made when we opened, which made it possible for us to gradually become an important cultural institution in Brazil. So everything is a process that has been built since 2012. This process involves a vocation of visual arts, a vocation of creation – myself as an artist – and a vocation of collector. This all contributes to the strengthening of the project and later culminates in the acquisition of the property, the Factory itself, as a cultural space that has been established.
ARTE!✱ – At the end of last year you inaugurated FAMA Campo, another important step in this trajectory. Large-scale works were already the focus of the institution, but this takes on another proportion with the new space…
Yup. The first book we released, The Force of the Three Dimensional, which makes a cut of our first exhibitions at FAMA, there already in the old Fábrica São Pedro, presents pieces in fact on a large scale, with that peculiarity of the three-dimensional. And as it is a very large space of 25 thousand square meters, the factory allows us to show works with a larger dimension, which would not necessarily fit in a traditional museum. There is also this dialogue between the contemporary and the modern, in the sense of the building's architecture, which is another highlight of the project.
And FAMA Campo also has this large-scale factor, but it values the natural aspect of the landscape more. So there we will always be talking about art in the landscape. We're not going to take a finished sculpture into space. The challenge there is for the artist to develop specific projects for the space and that suffer the weather – not projects that necessarily have this museological concern, in the sense of conservation. Of course, each artist has a treatment for the project he carries out, this is case by case.
ARTE!✱ – Talking about the collection and the collection, how do you separate your private collection from the FAMA collection?
The pieces from the FAMA collection are commodated. All the works that are in the museum are on loan to FAMA, so there is no promiscuity, in the sense of using the institution's collection for a personal interest. The signaling of a contract and an agreement in this aspect was precisely to protect the institution.
ARTE!✱ – In this sense, you are at the same time an artist, a collector, a gallery owner and the president of a cultural institution. How to work without conflicts of interest and without all these things getting mixed up?
I think it's always important for us to clarify our visions. When we clarify the visions of each project, of each initiative, from the start you already make clear what you can and what you can't. So, for example, in relation to the factory, as the project was born even from a desire related to my studio, this condition of mine as an artist is very present in the day to day of the factory. In the sense of research, development and even the dissemination of my work, that fits there. So this is something that is already part of the initial core of the project. I think a good reference in this regard would be the Vera Chaves Barcellos Foundation. So it's an artist-to-artist Foundation.
At the gallery (Kogan Amaro), at no time since the beginning did I have this intention of being a gallery artist. To be able to work absolutely professionally with other artists. There is no such overlap there. In the same way that there is a relationship of separation between the gallery and the Foundation, they are distinct programs. Eventually, the Foundation may have works by artists from the gallery, because we represent very good artists, who deserve to be institutionally highlighted, but this is not a project. It can happen, but it is something that is a consequence of the artist's work, which can be exhibited in any other institution.
ARTE!✱ – Arriving then at this reopening, we are talking about a year in which we live a pandemic unprecedented in history. The Marcos Amaro Art Factory, after almost eight months closed, is now reopening its doors. Can you tell us a little about how this decision was made and what the new type of visitation will be like?
It was a very cautious decision. Likewise, when we decided to close, we were one week away from opening Tarsila's exhibition. So you can imagine how frustrating it was for all of us. The exhibition was ready, curated by Aracy Amaral, who is already in her nineties, and Regina Teixeira de Barros. So we really wanted the show to happen. But the Council was very wise. We were even the first institution to announce the closure. A difficult but necessary decision. Now, after conversations with the Council, with cultural agents and with the health authorities, we think it would be prudent to reopen, but with some restrictions - for example, regarding the number of visitors, social distancing and all security protocols. In this sense, we are opening in a safe way, in order to guarantee the integrity of visitors.
And within these eight months we also took the opportunity to make a series of internal reformulations at the museum, at the institution, in the sense of our program, our challenges, where we want to get from. So it was a moment of much internal strengthening and changes for the institution, so that we could come out of the pandemic stronger, including with greater access to the virtual universe.
ARTE!✱ – Yes, you guys had a job that didn’t stop on social media…
We don't stop. All education, for example. Fortunately, we didn't have to fire anyone, we managed to keep our team, and the educational was focused on digital, on the development of proposals.
ARTE!✱ – The focus on educational work, which has to do with an idea of participation, not just contemplation, seems to gain more and more prominence in the work of various cultural institutions. In other words, think not only about the number of visitors, but also about the quality of that visitation. How is this issue handled in FAMA?
From the outset, I think it is important to talk about the diversity that we have within education. This whole issue, so present in the daily lives of Brazilians, of the inclusion of minorities, this is already clearly seen in the constitution of our education. Gender and race issues are very dear to our education. And that's where this reflection on diversity is born, on how to deal with it, how to work. And another point that has been developing in an important way is the research part and this question of the quality of the visitation, of always being able to offer a dialogue, an investigation and a greater criticism for the spectator. So that it is not just a space for contemplation, but for investigation and criticism. And that depends a lot on the dialogue, so it is important that the educational is increasingly strengthened, so that it can present debates to the spectator, so that people expand their worldviews. So there is this mission. And we are still building a library, which will be something important in the coming years. A library that will dialogue with the museum's collection.
ARTE!✱ – It seems to me that the promotion, that is, the prize and the residencies are also part of this idea of participation…
For sure. We always have resident artists, who establish studios in the space, and we always try to have this recycling and this opportunity. We recently launched an occupancy notice, for example, so that artists come to occupy old buildings. Right now, one of the shows we are opening is by Marcelo Moscheta himself, who was part of the award last year. So the promotion is indeed one of the vectors of FAMA, in the sense of being able to contribute in this aspect not only to the visual arts, but also to the interior region.
ARTE!✱ – Regarding this relationship with the surroundings, there is a focus on dialogue with the city and the community. How does this work take place?
Materially speaking, there is even the Parque Linear project, which is located on Avenida Galileu Bicudo, which is where we are located, and for which we have loaned five sculptures. From there, they form a bridge with the museum, and this is already an important situation of dialogue, an invitation to the museum. In addition, the program that we have with communities and public schools is fundamental. Last year, more than 10 students visited FAMA, all from around the region. It is interesting to think that if you take Itu, Salto, Sorocaba and the region, there are 2,5 million inhabitants. It's a lot of people, a very high population density. And the museum is one of the few, perhaps the only one, with this vocation for contemporary art. So this can contribute a lot, even definitively, to the path of the visual arts in this region. So our cultural ambition goes a lot there.
ARTE!✱ – Finally, it is impossible not to talk about the political context in which we are living. Brazil is going through a very troubled period, in which the cultural area seems to be one of the most attacked by the federal government itself. I would like you to talk a little about how you see the situation and how the Foundation works in this context.
We are relatively lucky, because today, luckily, I have the personal conditions to support the project. Today, 100% of the resources are owned. Of course, I am interested in making this change, I would like to have more support and partnerships from both the private and public sectors. So, from a manager's point of view, there is this concern, because we live in this environment where the culture is really depressed, so to speak. And depressed by a lack of country project. If there was a country project, culture would certainly be one of the determining topics. So it's sad, as a citizen, to think that we have a country with as many opportunities, cultural and artistic diversity as Brazil, so many powers, and this is not optimized and channeled, even in a state way. That is, the State does not consider it a project. And I understand that FAMA is also becoming prominent at this time because it is one of the few institutions that have this condition. It is a privilege to be able to act and, in some way, promote culture, as is the case, at different scales, with Itaú Cultural and Sesc, among others.
ARTE!✱ – Institutions that manage to protect themselves, at least in part, from this dismantling in the cultural area…
Exactly. But of course I have this long-term concern. I'm still young and I have these conditions, but I would like the Factory project to be lasting, to develop in other ways. So I've been thinking about how to make this happen, with an endowment fund, a endorsement, which can be part of the organization's structure, to make things more permanent.