Xadalu Tupã Jekupé, work of the exhibition "Colonial Invasion 'Yvy Opata' - The Earth Will End"/Photo: Maurício Burim

Practically in the making for five years, the Museum of Indigenous Cultures (MCI) was finally inaugurated at the end of June, in São Paulo, with three temporary exhibitions, in addition to a program with several lectures and debates on issues related to the native peoples of the Brazil. An institution of the Secretary of Culture and Creative Economy of the State of São Paulo, the MCI is managed by the Social Organization of Culture ACAM Portinari (Cultural Association to Support the Casa de Portinari Museum) in partnership with the Maracá Institute, a non-governmental organization that seeks to protect and disseminate the historical, environmental and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples.

The first conversations for its creation took place in 2017, at an event at the Goethe Institut in São Paulo, when Sandra Benites, curator and researcher, descendant of the Guarani-nhandeva people, from Mato Grosso do Sul, met Cristine Takuá, founder of Instituto Maracá. Later, Sandra was invited to join the Maracá council and help strengthen the idea of ​​creating a space dedicated, initially, to the indigenous peoples of the State of São Paulo.

In the second half of 2021, there was a meeting with the Guarani of Pico do Jaraguá with the then governor João Doria, and the creation of the museum was decided, with management later assigned to ACAM, which in turn was already in charge of the Historical and Pedagogical Museum. India Vanuíre, in Tupã, in the interior of the state. The Doria management designated the recently renovated sports complex building to house the museum. The transfer between the departments of sport and culture took place in February, and the process of restructuring the space began.

In March of this year, Sandra was invited to curate the temporary exhibition Colonial Invasion 'Yvy Opata' The Earth Will End, Xadalu Tupa Jekupé, an artist whose career she has been following since 2020. In it, through an aesthetic of contemporary urban art, the artist denounces the original territories in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, which have been swallowed up by real estate speculation.

A institution It also currently houses the collective Decolonize Occupation – SP Indigenous Land, with works scattered throughout the MCI space, in which indigenous artists deconstruct mistaken narratives about the cultures of native peoples. Already in Ygapó: Terra Firme, the artist and curator Denilson Baniwa invites the public for an immersion in the Amazon rainforest through sensory experiences.

Shortly after the opening, Sandra was invited to be the cultural programming and exhibition consultant for the Museum of Indigenous Cultures, where she sees, as her mission, translating the tradition of indigenous oral memory into a museum, a concept in itself alien to indigenous peoples. The task also requires her to act as an intermediary between the institution and the Guarani.

“This motivated me to accept the invitation, made me move to São Paulo. And, as everything is still in its infancy, it is a work that requires a lot of collective dialogue so that the contents and programs actually reflect our understanding of what a museum of our culture should be. Based on these conversations and demands, we are thinking, for the future, of a permanent exhibition”, explains Sandra, who was also the first indigenous curator at Masp, from which she resigned in May, after the museum’s directors refused MST photos for the exhibition. core resumptions, from the exhibition Brazilian Stories. Subsequently, the museum came to back off decision, and Sandra returned to the institution.

In addition to the exhibitions, the Museum of Indigenous Cultures has been hosting lectures and other activities. On August 21st, the Guarani writer and translator Luiz Karaí will participate in the debate The Resistance of the Guarani People: History, Language and Culture, which will also feature a dance performance by the kunhataingue, women from the Kaiowá and Guarani ethnic groups. Starts at 15pm, admission is free, however spaces are limited and must be reserved by email contato@museudasculturasindigenas.org.br.

Although there are still no permanent exhibitions, the works by the artist Tamikuã Txihi, an indigenous Pataxó, created especially for the museum, were presented at the opening and, according to her, mark the indigenous presence with history, memory and resistance, and will remain in the institution as a symbol. of fight. There are paintings of jaguars and their cubs, present on one of the building's gables, but also on the interior walls. For the artist, the jaguar is a “symbol of resistance of its people and of mother and sister nature”. For her, as an indigenous person, the museum, even though it is in a process under construction, brings visibility and protagonism to the native peoples.

“It is a living memory, and it is important to occupy this territory with a space in which, as protagonists of our own history, we are using art as an instrument of struggle, so that we can not only recover the memory and history told for our own peoples, but to show that we are still here, alive and resisting, despite everything that has happened to us and is still happening. Making the museum a nomenclature that, even without being part of our culture, can be a house of transformation”, he says.


Museum of Indigenous Cultures
R. Dona Germaine Burchard, 451 – Água Branca, São Paulo (SP)
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 18 pm; Thursdays, from 9 am to 20 pm
Tickets: R$15,00 (full price) and R$7,50 (half price); free on thursdays

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