|DOPS (Religious Movements Series)
The images that make up the DOPS work are part of the DOPS-ES fund archived in the “Religious Movements” Series, in which reports arising from investigations of Catholic bishops can be found. The series of photographs presents the main characters of the event organized by the Catholic Church called “Concílio de Jovens”, by priests linked to Liberation Theology, which sought to dialogue with the community not only on religious issues, but also to give voice to representatives of organizations social groups to present their claims and problems they faced. On the back of each photograph there is a textual description that indicates the name of the people photographed and if they respond or responded to lawsuits and what they would have said at the event.
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ARTE!Brasileiros — Tell a little about your story
Rafael Pagatini — I was born in 1985 in the city of Caxias do Sul-RS, in the mountains of Rio Grande do Sul, I am the son of a carpenter and a primary school teacher. At the age of 18 I went to Porto Alegre, capital of the state, with the aim of studying arts at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.
In Porto Alegre I had contact with the local art system and with people who helped me to think about art and its creative possibilities.
I delved into woodcuts from the beginning, perhaps because of my proximity to wood, because of my father. At that time I learned to live
in a group, living with other students.
In Porto Alegre, I started to investigate possibilities of uses of graphic processes, expanding my repertoire, using everything from woodcuts to engravings and laser cuts. In addition, I had contact with the practice of research in visual poetics that made me realize how the procedures adopted throughout the creation process promote discursive possibilities for the work. In this sense, the gesture of engraving, as a process of imprinting a body, of inscribing a territory, led me to think about issues of memory and to develop a language based on the procedures of engraving and its relationship with photography.
From an early age I also started an academic path. Taught the Engraving Course
at the Federal University of Espírito Santo, in Vitória-ES. I am currently doing my PhD at the PPG Artes at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, in São Paulo, with a thesis in the Visual Poetics field, discussing uses of archives and graphic processes in contemporary art.
A!B – What led you to invest in your work and what,
In your opinion, was it foundational to make that decision?
My research goes through graphic processes, relationships with photography and how
they may reflect a discussion of loss and erasure. However, when I moved to Vitória, I was interested in working with issues that bring up the social landscape, from the memory of the military dictatorship.
This desire began in my activity as a professor of the art course at the Federal University of Espírito Santo.
Then I had access to the students' reports about violence, death and rapes of relatives and friends, by the state. At the same time with that too, I delved into the history of the city, state and country. These stories made me rethink my condition as an art teacher and as an artist. How to react to this, perceiving violence as an element impregnated in Brazilian culture, society and history. So I decided to study how was the recent formation of the state of Espírito Santo, and how this process was related to a historical project that through the discourse of progress promoted even more violence.
The state of Espírito Santo has a very large flow of capital because of the ports that move much of the economy. Among them, the Port of Tubarão, owned by the mining company Vale, which exports iron ore to the entire world, is one of the most important. In this context, Vitória seemed to me an interesting city to think about how the local connects to the global through the commodities that pass through the city and how they influence socially, politically, aesthetically and historically the memory of the place.
The port, while generating taxes for the municipality, throws iron ore on the houses, It is normal to wake up with a dark glow on the balconies. Symbolic violence arrives with the blow of the wind. This complex relationship between the economy, exploration processes, taxes, pollution, led me to research how the port implantation process was and, from that point on, the military period.
The economy of Espírito Santo was based until the 50's on the export of coffee, from the 60's onwards it is inserted within a logic of expansion of large industrial projects of the Brazilian economy focused on the foreign market. This process caused the intensification of regional inequalities and caused the rates of violence to grow exponentially. Economic modernization, for example, promoted the construction of Samarco Mineração, inaugurated in 1977 by the then military president Ernesto Geisel. Company that in 2015 caused the biggest environmental crime in Brazilian history. The rupture of the Fundão dam, in the state of Minas Gerais, sent a gigantic wave of heavy metals to the Rio Doce, the main river in Espírito Santo. I followed the arrival of toxic mud at the mouth of the river, the destruction of marine life, the despair of fishermen, riverside dwellers, the death of a river. The orange waters of the Rio Doce reflected the entire history of authoritarianism, violence, conflicts and decadence of this great project of progress, driven in the state by the military regime.
How to link research and think about the construction of possible narratives. How could we think poetically from the point of view of art as a force of reaction to authoritarian structures and art as a space for the invention of practices and utopias? I intend that my production presents how the place of the political in the practices of memory can be built locally and linked to the current Brazilian context.
To deepen the research, I approached a fellow historian at the university, Pedro Ernesto Fagundes, who helped me with his research to think about local memory, and I started the investigation with the DOPS-ES files in the Public Archive of Espírito Santo. I am interested in thinking about the archive as something alive, pulsating, which leads me to a crisis of representation that starts with art and approaches history and sociology.
Some questions guide my practice based on the use of files: How was the participation of businessmen in the military government? What is the existing imaginary in society about the period? How much is this history still latent in the Brazilian social, cultural and political context? How can working from an aesthetics of the period contribute to the development of research in art? How to recover the flaws, the desires, the gaps of memory without imposing discourses, but opening the work to the experience of art and without closing the research in the restricted codes of the artistic field?
A!B – How do you choose supports?
From the desire to reflect on the construction of discourses, to doubt the images and then go after supports and materials. The unstable relationships between photography, art and document, and how an image transitions between document and fiction and how to bring them to the final product.
Thus, I think of the photographic image as a trace of reality and the possibility of manipulation. I work with photography based on images that I research in archives and how they can be subverted, constructed, interpreted. I think of photography as a materiality to be unfolded, fractured, modeled, reconstructed. As I work a lot with public archives, I always wonder how these images work as small public spaces for discussion and debate.
From the use of documents, which aims to sharpen perception, the judgment that completes the work is performed by the spectator. Thus, I am interested in creating uncertainty in order to be able to explain the reactions and postures of those who approach the work. In this way, I see documents as an imprecision of what the archive is, what is a public, shared archive that is as seductive as it is imprecise.
As an example of this I can cite the work Welcome, President!. It emerged from the realization that practically all large companies in Vitória-ES had been inaugurated in the period known historically in the city as “Grandes Projetos”, during the military period. This led me to the Public Archives of the state of Espírito Santo and to researching the newspaper A Gazeta from the 60's, 70's and 80's. among others, I noticed that all the military presidents visited the city to inaugurate these enterprises. This inaugural political event had an aggressiveness and it seemed interesting to me to understand the relationship with the city, so I sought from those dates to understand how the newspaper reported these events. To my surprise, I found several advertisements from companies wishing presidents a good stay in Espírito Santo. I cataloged these ads from several different decades, some even from the same companies, and sought a support that at the same time brought the density of the texts present in the ads, but provoked an inverse relationship from the work support, such as lightness, invisibility and create a subtle gesture from the movement of the greeting wind. Inkjet printing on Japanese paper fostered these relationships through the way the work is fixed in the exhibition space. The challenge was to understand how the advertisements were moved by the action of the gallery's wind and to use different densities of papers so that in this way the work gained movement while allowing the reading of the advertisements and highlighting the fragility of the speeches.
The work Bandeirantes, for example, was born from the trips I make to go to Campinas along Rodovia dos Bandeirantes on account of my doctorate. The way the people I carpooled with took pride in their road talk made me take an interest in the history of the highway.
A!B – Tell me about the research methodology and how you decide to turn this research into this final product
I understand that the work is finished when I manage to raise the questions that led me to the research, but, at the same time, I can still imagine possible openings and overflows in its readings.
In this sense, my methodology stems from the interest in getting involved with the subject in order to become, for a moment, a historian, engineer, anthropologist, archivist, without ceasing to be an artist. That is, from art to open a field of reading and experimentation for society. This way I read a lot about what I'm talking about, the interpretive perspectives on the subject. In the case of the military regime, I resort a lot to historians to try to support my hypotheses, always realizing how these questions gain a new contour from the context and contemporary events.
Often, materials and supports indicate new paths and perspectives for the work, which is why the development of the works always goes through a period of maturation. The graphic processes I use work a lot from a set of procedures, a process in which the creation of a project is very important to respect some steps. For example, the choice of image is fundamental so that your codes can reverberate to make you think, feel the work not only intellectually but bodily. In the same way, the exhibition space in which the work is presented promotes new discursive possibilities, or even contradictions that often do not have to be overcome, but revealed. Therefore, my methodology comes from the curiosity of researching stories, of thinking about what makes me distressed, of sharing a feeling, opening files, looking for the unsaid.
Pagattini, has participated since 2011 in numerous exhibitions, including:
In 2018 State(s) of Emergency curated by Priscila Arantes and Diego Matos. At the Oswald de Andrade Cultural Workshop in São Paulo. The power of multiplication, curated by Gregor Janser at the Rio Grande do Sul Art Museum, Porto Alegre – RS.
RSXXI – the Experimental Rio Grande do Sul curated by Paulo Herkenhoff at Santander Cultural, Porto Alegre.
Open Wings 14, at Gentil Carioca curated by Clarissa Diniz, Cabelo, Ulisses Carrilho in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2017 at the 20th Video Festival Brasil, curated by Solange Farkas, Diego Matos, João Laia, Beatriz Lemos and Ana Pato at Sesc Pompéia in São Paulo.
In 2012 won his first EDP Award in the Arts at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, in São Paulo – SP.