Articulating diverse cultures that arrived in Brazil from the African diaspora, a unique amalgam of ancestral knowledge, teachings, rites and worldviews fills the fourth floor of the Pinacoteca Estação starting this Saturday, April 2nd. Its about Yoruba, which presents a selection of 63 works by Ayrson Heráclito. Curated by Amanda Bonan, Ana Maria Maia and Marcelo Campos, the exhibition that now arrives in São Paulo was initially conceived and exhibited at the Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) in 2021.
Addressing the trauma of slavery, the performance Inside Secrets – to be staged on the occasion of the opening – sets the tone for the show. Through photographs, videos, performances, installations and records, Yoruba remakes memory to dry historical wounds linked to the exploitation of bodies and the silencing of Afro-Diasporic cultures. The resumption of the past takes on a sense of purge, of dispatch, and the works seek to represent a poetic and political reinvention of a Yoruban Brazil.
Sugar, palm oil and beef jerky. It is these organic materials that historically and symbolically compose the “diasporic cultural body” – as stated by Heráclito – that guide us through the exhibition. “The world is like a body, a living being. And in my work, all the use of organic materials, which are associated with the practices of feeding the divinities and nature, has to do with the fact that nature is the one who gives us food, it is this greater subject that guides us, guides, gives us life. And it is the elements of nature that make us powerful to, for example, transmute this idea of scar, of pain, of this colonial past that reduced all this knowledge to the idea of sorcery and macumba”, explained the artist in an interview with arte!brasileiros in 2020 (read here).
In the first exhibition room of Yoruba, a set of works brings sugar as a way of remembering the greed of the slave sugar cane monoculture, at the same time evoking Exú, orixá to whom cachaça is ritually offered. Still in the same environment, we are faced with the polysemy of palm oil, whether in the installation Return to Bahian painting – in which a model of the Rosário dos Pretos Church and a wall of the museum are dyed with food -, in the photographic series plant blood, or in other installations and photographs that make up this session and that sometimes bring olive oil as a symbol of vital fluids in the human body.
The beef jerky meat, present in the works in the next room, refers to Ogun, at the same time it alludes to the violence suffered by the enslaved black people. Examples of works with this theme are the records of performances transmutation of flesh e Shake. About the latter, the artist explains (in a 2020 interview): “In my work, shaking is also a tactic of returning to the past in order to shake up history, promoting a 'movement' of our traumas. It is a way of generating visibility for issues that have traditionally been hidden, such as the process of dehumanization of the enslaved African population”. The record exposed in the current exhibition is the presentation of jolts which took place in the vicinity of the Pina Estação building, where the DOPS (Department of Political and Social Order) operated, the body responsible for detaining political dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s.
In the last room of the show, we got in touch with the photographic installation Bori, which brings twelve large photographs of the ritual of making the head, representing each of the 12 orixás of the xirê. On August 11, it will be possible to follow the sacred ritual that inspires the work, in the Octógono space, in the Pina Luz building, with the presence of musicians and 12 Candomblé initiates.
Ayrson Heráclito: Yorubaian
WHERE: Pina Estação, Largo General Osório, 66 – Luz, São Paulo (SP)
WHEN: April 2 to August 22, 2022
OPENING: Monday to Saturday, from 10 am to 18 pm