The Museum of Art of São Paulo. Photo: Marcelo Valente.
The Museum of Art of São Paulo. Photo: Marcelo Valente.

The MASP (Museum of Art of São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand) retreated this Friday, 20, in its willingness to cancel the “Retomadas” nucleus, by curators Sandra Benites and Clarissa Diniz, which was part of the group show Brazilian Stories (to be opened on the 1st of July). THE exhibition has been canceled by the curators in May after the institution denied support for the loan of works representing the Landless Movement (MST). As a result of this attitude, which she considered censorship, curator Sandra Benites, the first indigenous woman to join the group of curators at Masp, resigned from the museum on the 17th.

In a public note, the museum acknowledges “mistakes”, regrets the cancellation and appeals to the curators to return and resume the project. “In this sense, if the curators agree, we propose to postpone the opening of the exhibition and reorganize its schedule so that we can include the Retomadas nucleus in the show”, says the text, which is not signed. Sandra and Clarissa, who is currently in Africa, working, tend not to accept the proposal. They have gone through a long process of attrition in recent months seeking to ensure the integrity of their curation.

The museum does not recognize the act as censorship and also does not speak explicitly about reinstating Sandra Benites, but explicitly refers to the vetoed MST photos. “Finally, we will propose the incorporation of the 6 photographs by André Vilaron, Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá and João Zinclar into the Museum’s collection, if it is of interest to the artists, as a record of the importance of these images for the history of MASP and recognition of the work developed by the curators together with the Landless Movement — MST”.

Masp's repositioning in relation to the episode takes place after a forceful stance taken by the artist Cildo Meireles the day after Sandra's resignation. Cildo took three of his works from an exhibition at the same center Brazilian Stories. They were: Geographic Mutations: Vertical Frontier (Yaripo), a 1969/2015 project; Hole to Play Rogue Politicians, 2011; and the third a banner produced for the #usemareloparaademocracia Campaign, by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper in 2020.

“Social movements, indigenous issues, the struggle for agrarian reform, among other manifestations, are important themes for me as an artist and a citizen. Therefore, I would feel embarrassed to participate in this event”, said the artist. The museum's retreat may also be due to the fear that Cildo's attitude would cause a domino effect, with several artists from the group exhibition withdrawing their works in solidarity with the curators.

The São Paulo Museum of Art recognized that the show represents an important inflection in the artistic representation of excluded segments of society, in its note. “MASP is committed to opening new spaces for listening, in the certainty that what we want is a more plural, inclusive and democratic Brazil – which can only be built collectively, based on open, empathetic and collaborative dialogue”.

READ THE FOLLOWING MASP NOTE IN FULL:

NOTE ON BRAZILIAN STORIES May 20, 2022

MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand comes to the public with a new position on the cancellation of the “Retomadas” nucleus, which was part of the group show Brazilian Histories, to be opened on July 1st. The exhibition is part of the Histories series, which included Histories of Sexuality (2017), Afro-Atlantic Histories (2018), Feminist Histories (2019), among others.

The Museum has reflected a lot on the current moment and, as a living museum, seeks to learn from this episode, including observing procedural flaws and errors in the dialogue with the curators Clarissa Diniz and Sandra Benites, responsible for the “Retomadas” section. The institution publicly regrets the cancellation of the nucleus, so important for the exhibition, and the departure of the project's curators.

Intending to move forward so that similar episodes do not happen again in the future, we are open to listening to Benites and Diniz, in order to learn from this experience and improve processes and work models.

In this sense, if the curators agree, we propose to postpone the opening of the exhibition and reorganize its schedule so that we can include the “Retomadas” nucleus in the show.

Another measure we are proposing is to hold a public seminar during the exhibition on the “Retomadas” nucleus with the participation of the curators.

Finally, we will propose the incorporation of the 6 photographs by André Vilaron, Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá and João Zinclar into the Museum's collection, if it is of interest to the artists, as a record of the importance of these images for the history of MASP and recognition of the work. developed by the curators together with the Movimento Sem Terra — MST.

MASP is committed to opening new spaces for listening, in the certainty that what we want is a more plural, inclusive and democratic Brazil – which can only be built collectively, based on open, empathetic and collaborative dialogue.

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