"Pano Preto na Janela", by Julio Villani, an intervention by the artist on the wall of the Brazilian embassy in Paris. Photo: RA

With compulsory isolation due to Covid-19, part of the artistic community creates new questions with works impregnated with criticism of the Bolsonaro government. The art produced in these circumstances is born contaminated by other affiliations such as psychoanalysis, activism and politics. The works expand almost independently of the author's will, with unimaginable actions.

Julio Villani, a Brazilian who has lived in Paris since 1982, is very calm. But on the 21st of May, the tables were turned and surprised everyone with the intervention  Black Cloth on the Window, made on the wall of the Brazilian embassy in the French capital. Six long flags, with designs similar to those of Brazil, but in black, red and yellow, displayed words and phrases against Bolsonaro's policy, reproducing some of his  nonsense. Many people were surprised because, with rare exceptions, his work does not carry an explicit political charge. "I may be a dreamer, but I'm a daydreamer." At the end of last year, he was already making embroidered sheets denouncing the “upturns” of freedom in Brazil. That wasn't enough, so he decided to act. “The Brazilian embassy has established itself as a natural place to spew out our disagreement.” A week earlier he creates a black flag, a GIF on Instagram. “The other panels are born from a single line and the connection with the black cloths on the windows is done automatically.” After these days, he vents: “It was a drop of water born with the only thing I know, with the only thing I am”. Villani represents a portion of Brazilians outraged by the president's vulgar behavior. “His government is not even authoritarian, but misrule, nameless destruction and, if it has a name, it is fascism. What I feel is visceral opposition.”

The French press reports and Quotidien des Arts opens with the title: “Artistic command against Bolsonaro”. The important thing for Villani is that the newspaper explains each flag, exposing the mismanagement. Figaro also publishes the reviews and, in Canada, Brazilians use the images in action at the Brazilian embassy in Ottawa. In Lisbon and Coimbra, they appear in anti-Bolsonaro demonstrations and are available on the São Paulo website Casa do Povo. If the six black panels impacted the public, what remained in the artist's heart was the small white one, with the phrase: another Brazil is possible. “We have to find ideas and actions to make it exist again. The other option is not an option.”

Screenings of the series Convivência, Action for Times of Isolation, by Ana Teixeira. Photo: Disclosure.

With rapid and widespread activism, artists infiltrate the fabric of the city, gaining territories and audiences for their speeches. Ana Teixeira transformed the window of her house, in Vila Madalena, in São Paulo, into a stage from which she projects light with texts of resistance to government authoritarianism, in addition to journalistic or philosophical texts such as those by Ailton Krenak and Eliane Brum. Coexistence, Action for Times of Isolation also brings his narratives that adhere to the walls of buildings, like the skin of architecture. Projection is a ritual that is repeated daily, also with other authors.

The city is an immense narrative body and a place of clashes. Ana received a threat from an unidentified neighbor when projecting some works, with sound, such as the hashtag #ForaBolsonaro. Someone didn't like it, threw a volley of oranges at her house, and from there, she eliminated the sound. She has a following that follows her here and abroad. “I keep in touch with artists who also build models of occupation and urban resistance in their cities. In Barcelona, ​​a group projects my works and I theirs.”

Work from the series Aller et Retour, by Maurício Silva. Photo: Anne Furci/ Publicity.

In the 1980s, Maurício Silva lived a creative vagrancy, with equally young artists, around the Paranambuco group, formed by José Patrício and Alexandre Nóbrega, among others. Utopian socialists found collective work more productive and fun. Time has passed, but Maurício's restless spirit remains intact. Today he lives in Meudon, on the outskirts of Paris, with his wife Anne and four children. In isolation, he created a strategy to suture time with the series Aller et Return, paintings on subway tickets kept by him. “The tickets are records of my comings and goings in this society that limits and oppresses us.” Painted and glued side by side, they form a large canvas, with marks of his obsession with textures. Strong colors and intense light are part of the affective reserve he carries from Recife. Aller et Return ended, not because of the exhaustion of the project, but because of the exchange of tickets for magnetic cards introduced by the city of Paris.

The book Poetry Pandemia, by Maurício Silva. Photo: Anne Furci/ Publicity.

In this context, he produced the book Pandemic poetry, with infiltrations of political resistance, with its texts, collages and drawings, and ready to be printed. A relief for him, who confesses: “Nothing is as scary as the possibility of dying without saying anything. And surviving after all this will change for the better, for sure.”

In an attempt to save the country from national disintegration, social media is teeming with messages from various trenches. Daily works by anonymous authors, with a common identity, are part of the Cólera Alegria, defined by the participants as “collaborative action of a political nature”. Without any voice of command, the members do not recognize themselves as a collective or group. With an invisible committee, everything for them is collaborative, provisional and dynamic, as is the entry and exit of participants at any time. The execution of the works was born in the footsteps of Arts and Crafts, with cardboard and painted cloths that become posters, flags, banners, which circulate both on social networks and in the streets, in political demonstrations. Irreverence and humor are not lacking in the action that acts by sharing images with the hashtag #choleralegria. With the rise of the right in Brazil, seizing national symbols and colors, they try to take them back, as well as the words distorted by the government's authoritarian discourse.

Work published by Cholera Alegria

For the transformative idea, Cólera Alegria was included in the exhibition Against, Again: Art Under Attack in Brazil, curated by Nathalia Lavigne and Tatiana Schilaro, without identifying the artists, at John Jay Law School, in New York. The show is interrupted due to Covid-19, with no return date. ✱

Read also Public art project carried out in Chile, in mid-May, brought together more than 70 artists and collectives who were present in suspended and postponed spaces during isolation in the pandemic. in this link.

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