The artist Abdoulaye Konaté, who is the subject of the documentary that debuts the platform. Photo: Everton Ballardin

En almost four decades of history, since the first festival was held in 1983, Videobrasil has exhibited thousands of works by Brazilian and foreign artists in its events, publications and platforms. At first they were just video art works, but over time other forms of electronic art, performances and, in the last decade, the most varied contemporary languages ​​were included. It was still at the beginning of this trajectory, when he founded Associação Cultural Videobrasil in 1991, that Solange Farkas realized the importance of creating and maintaining a collection – which would include both the works presented at festivals (now Bienal Sesc_Videobrasil) and the most varied content produced by the institution.

"The association was created in a gesture that aimed to preserve and activate the artistic heritage formed by the festival. And this is deeply contaminated by the fact that there is no consistent and systematic cultural policy in the country, especially with regard to the preservation of memory and the activation of important goods and patrimonies”, says Farkas. “So I think that already at that time I intuited the need to archive and safeguard these residuals that the festival produced, its discussions, above all because of the political context.”

The result of these 37 years of archiving are around 1560 works, a bibliographic collection with more than 5 titles and a documentary collection of 11 items – which includes audiovisual documentation produced by Videobrasil itself, including testimonials and interviews with artists and curators. It is one of these works, the documentary Abdoulaye Konaté – Colors and Compositions, by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, which inaugurates the association's newest project, the Videobrasil Online, which gives continuity to the institution's two basic missions, according to Farkas: democratization of access to production in the Global South region and constant rearticulation of the collection's contents, in line with the urgencies of each moment.

The term Global South, used by the institution since the 1990s, refers to the cultural, economic and political condition of countries and territories on the margins of hegemonic modernization and central capitalism. Despite not being a watertight term, it basically refers to regions of the world such as Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East, in addition to a significant part of the countries of Asia, Eastern Europe and Oceania. 

Layout of the new site, with the work of the Malian Abdoulaye Konaté. Credit: Nina Farkas

As for the constant rearticulation of the collection, VB Online appears after other projects such as ff>>dossier, PLATFORMA:VB, Canal VB and the recent Videobrasil Commented Collection, always focused on the dissemination of this production. In the case of the new platform, which will be live as of this Friday, September 4, Farkas explains that it will function as a “non-cumulative” exhibition space, in which each virtual show is on the air for about a month and, after that period, the content is withdrawn for the entry of a new exhibition.

“This is a project that's been on my mind for a while, because it's a bit of a natural path to go online and to go online. streaming. But he was accelerated by everything that happened, the pandemic and social isolation.” In addition, according to Farkas, the new website partially makes up for the absence of Galpão Videobrasil, the association’s exhibition space that was closed at the end of 2018. Although the absence of physical presence makes certain types of experience impossible, the director of Videobrasil believes that the online space also has its advantages, especially with regard to the democratization of access. "O reach is extraordinary, because I'm no longer talking to the audience at the biennial or the shed, but to a global audience, to anyone who has internet. And in this absence of physical space, it became very clear to me that the place of video is indeed on the small screen. And it makes sense, more than ever, to refocus on video, which is the origin of the association.”

Documentaries, individual and curatorship

Abdoulaye Konaté – Colors and Compositions, an unprecedented documentary that marks the debut of Videobrasil Online, is the latest work in a series on contemporary artists produced by the institution. Juliano Salgado's film features the work of Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté, one of the most outstanding creators of Sub-Saharan Africa, whose works were commissioned for the 19th Bienal Sesc_Videobrasil in 2015 – later presented at the Venice Biennale. Produced in that period, the film follows Konaté on his visit to Brazil and periods in Mali and Denmark.     

Director Juliano Salgado during the recording of the documentary. Photo: Disclosure

In addition to documentaries, the Videobrasil Online project is designed around two other fixed formats, individual artists and curatorships. The three models of exhibitions will be made available alternately over the months. In the first group, in addition to the film about Konaté, documentaries will be presented on Olafur Eliason, William Kentridge, Akram Zaatari, Coco Fusco and the collective Chelpa Ferro, among others. In the singles, the series starts next month with an exhibition by Ayrson Heráclito and continues with names such as Carlos Nader, Jonathas de Andrade, Gabriela Golder, Enrique Ramirez and Liu Wei. Finally, the curators will present selections of videos organized by curators – names such as Juliana Borges, Julia Rebouças, Raphael Fonseca, Koyo Kuoh, Renee M'Boya, Alexia Talla and Marina Fokidis are considered.

“Everything is designed around the collection, but that doesn't mean that works that aren't in it can't enter. Works that help to give a more complete picture, from the perspective of the curator or the artist, are very welcome”, says Farkas. “These are tools that we are creating to recontextualize the collection and contribute not only to the dissemination and dissemination of the artists' work – fundamentally of course – but also to important contemporary reflections”.

Reflections on topics such as structural racism, attacks on native peoples, inequalities resulting from globalization and the destruction of the environment, among others, are presented to Videobrasil as not only Brazilian issues, but latent in a large part of the Global South. “This all concerns not only us, even though we are in a very accentuated situation in Brazil. And I think it has never been so necessary to make these exchanges, to reflect on these issues that are causing this great malaise, this maladjustment in the world”, says Farkas.

Returning to the initial observation, about the reasons for the creation of the collection, she concludes: “Because the countries that are part of this geopolitical frame tend to also have these fragile policies as similar, especially in the field of culture and memory. And we managed, in the collection, to gather an extraordinary panorama of these regions. These are incredible works, which help to lighten up these dark times a little bit.”

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