After Lorenzo Mammi left the position of artistic director of the Instituto Moreira Salles to return to academic activities at the University of São Paulo, the institution announced the Portuguese curator João Fernandes to occupy the position. Until then, Fernandes was deputy director of the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid. Alongside the director of the Spanish museum, Manuel Borja-Villel, he was voted 51st on a list of the 100 most influential personalities in art by ArtReview last year. Also in 2018, he was invited to participate in the V Seminar ARTE!Brasileiros, whose theme was 'ART beyond ART'.

João began his speech by pointing out how art has expressed, in many ways, “how the world is not beautiful, how the world is not beautiful and has not been beautiful throughout its history”. He pointed out that many times the artists expressed themselves because they were sensitive to the manifestations of systems of inequality, oppression, human exploitation, for example.

Citing the interventions of the artists and the works of Mario Pfeifer (Germany) and Voluspa Jarpa (Chile), who also participated in the seminar, João reflected: “So many works bring us this wide territory that art today offers for the evidences and problems of the world. , which exist, of which the world reveals little awareness”. The curator believes that art is a great ally to face the so-called “Orwell problem”, worked by the linguist Noam Chomsky, which he summarizes in the following question: “How is it that with such great evidence of the facts we have in the world we have so little knowledge of them and react so little to them? The role of art in this sense would be to help problematize dominant discourses that transform particular stories into something invisible.

Quoting Helio Oiticica (“from diversity we live”), João pointed out “globalization is linked to something that in Information Theory has always been a very cruel law of entropy: the more information, the less information. The more information, the less knowledge.” And he added: “Today, even the proliferation of information systems, in artistic communication systems, contributes to socially anesthetizing many of the very situations they denounce”.

Fernandes also commented on curatorial models in the world and also on how knowing the art made in Brazil and Latin America in general is important to decolonize the History of Art. He cited the Venice Biennale as an example of an exhibition created along the lines of an industrial capitalist society: “It was created for a world structured according to the dominant logic of its time”. Then, he points out the Bienal de São Paulo as the antithesis of this: “It is created in this Ibirapuera Park within a perspective in which modernism, in a way, built a space for utopia and for a revelation of the new in this confrontation that would be what brought to Brazil much of the art that was not known in Brazil and, at the same time, revealed to the world much of the art that was made here in Brazil”.

For him, in the last two decades, the expansion of art produced here and in South America is important because it shows a history “fundamental to critically decolonize realities that still survive today due to all this colonial, Eurocentric, phallocentric past, etc. that is part of the past”. In his opinion, “it is here” that a break with the dominant models of Western art begins, “that begins a critical awareness that these models corresponded to a colonial history”.

Watch Video e check the full of João Fernandes' speech at our seminar!

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