"Girl in white, Bonfim party, Salvador, 1994", Mario Cravo Neto for the Photography Collectors Club. Photo: Courtesy MAM.

En 2020, the MAM-SP Photography Collectors Club turns 20 years old. Created on the initiative of the then executive curator Rejane Cintrão, the group appears at a time when photography is, in fact, beginning to be legitimized as art by the institutions of the world. The creation of the Club in the early 2000s made MAM-SP a “protagonist in Brazil in understanding that contemporary production needed to be integrated, researched and preserved in the collection”, as stated by Eder Chiodetto, curator of the Club since 2006.

“Disco Volpi” (2020), by Avaf, for the Photography Collectors Club. Photo: Courtesy MAM.

In each annual edition, five artists are invited to participate by donating their works to the museum. There are three ways to join the Club, which vary according to the number of works purchased. There is also the possibility of obtaining them separately. With a maximum value of R$ 6200 – for the five works that year – the Club contributes to the democratization of collecting by offering works at a more affordable price, which attracts a new contingent of people. This ends up contributing to a better knowledge of the artists' production and also to increasing the frequency at the museum. The diversity of geography, gender, topics covered and languages ​​and experiences are also part of this democratizing factor. 

Commemorative exhibition and virtual actions

To celebrate the anniversary, the curatorial team prepared an unprecedented exhibition with all the artists who participated in the Club – “there were already works mounted on the exhibition wall, the catalog being printed at the printer, invitations distributed”, says Chiodetto. The opening of the show, however, was made impossible by the quarantine decree. “We imagined at first – or wanted to think like that – that the opening would be postponed for a few months and then everything would go back to normal”, says the curator. “Now we have a forecast to be reassessed of holding the show in January, with the necessary restrictions”, he adds. 

Photography Club
“Filter screen”, by Lia Chaia, for the Photography Collectors Club. Photo: Courtesy MAM.

Because of this, the exhibition was not adapted to the virtual environment, like other actions carried out by MAM-SP since the beginning of the quarantine. Weekly, the institution promotes virtual meetings on its social networks; there is still actions like the Stories from the Collection, where the team discusses works that the museum has, bringing a little of its trajectory in the legend; The Artist of the Week; or MAM To Listen; it's the Educational MAM. Not to mention that the institution maintains a series of online courses.

Photography Club
“Americano”, by Ivan Grilo, for the Photography Collectors Club. Photo: Courtesy MAM.

With virtual exhibitions being part of a new dynamic, and being more necessary for the democratization of art, Chiodetto reinforces, however, the importance of being face to face with the work of art: “It is This auratic contact with the work is unsurpassed. In the case of photographs, for example, the ways of thinking about the finish of the work, the type of printing, the infinite ranges of paper textures have advanced greatly. There is also light, the thoughtful arrangement of the images in relation to each other. Strategies like this are needed for people to regain the ability to contemplate, because in fact the speed and excess of information and impulses to which we are subjected in the contemporary world has taken away our contemplative capacity a lot.”

preserve the photograph

Although the project has integrated 102 works into the museum, for Chiodetto the Club is still “a timid entryway”. The curator recalls that in Brazil there is still no official body responsible for capturing, organizing and preserving Brazilian photography. According to him, “in an unsystematic way and full of gaps, this role ends up being played by some institution such as the IMS, Itaú Cultural and a few museums such as MAM-SP, MAM-RJ, MAC-USP and, more recently, the sea."

Photography Club
Untitled, Daniel Senise, for the Photography Collectors Club. Photo: Courtesy MAM.

This is an issue that has been going on for some time. At the 1st Latin American Photography Forum in São Paulo, photographer Iatã Cannabrava asked the same question. Over time, however, the issue of digital adds to the problem. Digital photography appears more centrally now than film photography and can be archived on computers and hard drives. “Will they survive and if they survive will we be able to access them 50, 100 years from now, when researchers want to investigate the iconography of our time? What will happen to the archives of this generation from the turn of the century? Will we have iconographic amnesia?”, asks Chiodetto, recalling that important works for the preservation of Brazilian photography – such as that carried out by the IMS with records from the 1940s to 1970s – started with the rescue of originals in negatives and photographic copies, poorly or well preserved, with family members of the photographers of the time. Therefore, for him, an organism is necessary that equates all this.

This year, Cinthia Marcelle, Daniel Senise, Ivan Grilo and Lia Chaia participate in the Avaf club. ANDexceptionally for the Club's 20th anniversary, the museum will produce the work Girl in white, Bonfim party, Salvador 1994, by the artist Mario Cravo Neto, for single purchase. Note that not everyone uses photography as a primary medium in their works. This is a point of interest for the current curatorship, an exercise proposed to these “non-photographers”, as they were the cases of Jac Leirner, Sandra Cinto, Nelson Lerner, Waltércio Caldas, Regina Silveira, José Patrício, Marcelo Silveira, Adriana Varejão, Nuno Ramos himself, who created the work this year. Chiodetto regrets that Tunga did not participate in the Club during his lifetime. “Unfortunately we lost him too soon.” When asked about the other artists he would invite to exercise at the Club, he confesses: “There are other names that are on my naughty list of provocations, but it's a secret”.


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