Juliana Notari, Mimoso, 2014
Juliana Notari, Mimoso, 2014

From the meeting between the researches From the curators Bitu Cassundé, Clarissa Diniz and Marcelo Campos, a great desire was born to carry out a project for an exhibition that would bring together works that represented the Northeast of Brazil not in its caricatured form, but in its entirety, penetrating the imaginaries around it. The project for this was approximately ten years old when, almost two years ago, it was approved by Sesc to be carried out at the 24 de Maio unit. Thus, the three curators began to travel to all the states that make up the northeast region to update these researches. The result can now be seen in the exhibition Northeast, until August 25th.

The trips to update started in the second half of 2018, say Marcelo and Clarissa. Some of them were done in a trio, others in a pair and others only one of them could perform. “The project is the vitality of the region, which showed us other things, and not just what we already knew”, highlights Campos. He says that the trips coincided with a very pulsating moment in the Northeast, due to the political scenario of the last presidential elections. This made the energy of new contemporary artists stand out in some way.  The moment was also very important for them to be able to observe a series of transformations that have taken place in the region over the last few years.

The curators were careful not to fall into a trap that is very easy to slip into when it comes to the region: the folklore: “We said that it was not our intention to make a portrait of the region, nor a panorama. At no time did we make, for example, a statistic”, said Marcelo. In this way, the curators allowed themselves to be traversed by issues that were triggered, in the end, in the exhibition's nuclei. They are: Future, Insurgency, (De)coloniality, Work, Nature, City, Desire and Language.

At the same time, the exhibition was not conceived in a way that would escape the prejudices that are aimed at the region and the Northeast, so showing them is also a way of not normalizing them: “These prejudices are part of an experience of being northeast”, comments Clarissa, explaining that the meeting is provocative and stirs up a series of concepts and prejudices.

Northeast brings 275 works by 160 artists, including illustrious works such as retreatants, by Cândido Portinari, which is part of the MASP collection, and the Presentation Cloak, by Arthur Bispo do Rosário. More contemporary artists with important works, such as Juliana Notari, who presents the video Cuddly in the Desire sector, they are also very present in the web built by the curators. One of the highlights is the work memelite, from the collective garbage bag, that emerged as a meme page on social media. The video features a series of well-known images on the internet. Also very contemporary, the work It's not about shoes, by Gabriel Mascaro, reflects on the issues surrounding the demonstrations that have taken place in the country in recent years, taking as a point of discussion the 2013 demonstrations, which began a more latent process of population participation in the country's direction. For the show, 12 unpublished works were commissioned, such as We agreed not to die (2019), by Jota Mombasa (cover of this issue). Commissioning was, according to Marcelo, a way of breaking the verticalization of art. In addition to Mombasa, artists such as  Daniel Santiago (PE), Gê Vianna and Márcia Ribeiro (MA), Ton Bezerra (MA), Isabela Stampanoni (PE), Pêdra Costa (RN), Marie Carangi (PE) and Alcione Alves (PE) also carried out new works.

SESC MAY 24

Located in a very central region of the city of São Paulo, where thousands of migrants and immigrants pass each day, Sesc 24 de Maio has a very strong geopolitical character in its roots. The unit was inaugurated in 2017 and has already hosted major exhibitions that celebrated what comes from outside São Paulo, such as Jamaica Jamaica, which focused on Jamaican culture and politics, and Lasar Segall: essay on color, which presented a large collection of works by the Lithuanian artist based in Brazil.

Watch the exhibition video Northeast.


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read review
written by Aracy Amaral about the exhibition, published in ARTE!Brasileiros 47.
The curators of À Nordeste wrote a response to the criticism, check it out here.

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