A exposure We are many+s: experiments on collectivity takes up the thinking of two essential artists in the second half of the 20th century, Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) and Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) for thinking about artistic practice today.
In a way, this is what the 27th Bienal de São Paulo did, how to live together, in 2006, which departed from Oiticica's proposals to map productions that questioned representation through the anti-art proposal and sought to create collective experiences.
Thirteen years later, does it make sense to continue looking for references in Beuys and Oiticica? YES. During this period, the art market in Brazil expanded considerably, the city's art institutions strengthened, and the country entered a war against culture. Thus, the radical proposals of art are still more necessary, but they are still exercised in few spaces. However, they are the oxygen of the system and, as such, essential to understand what art can mean today.
When visiting the exhibition, I heard a lady with a gaucho accent comment to her friend while reading about the Arte Útil project by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera: “It is no wonder that there is so much persecution of art in recent times, because what she [the artist] wants is change”, she stated emphatically, as if seeking approval. It's impossible not to have empathy. It is even a relief to realize that, even only in a state of potency, since Bruguera's work was not being activated, she made it clear that the business there is not just entertainment.
It makes perfect sense to revisit Beuys because, after all, it is his one of the most important artistic proposals, defended since 1977, as the text reads. Entry into a living being, reproduced in the exhibition’s catalogue, which states: “Every human being is an artist, as he experiences the creative essence in himself, the formative essence that relates to all fields of life’s problems, all fields in which this human being move”.
This is the key to a thought still little explored, which is the understanding that art is a broad field and that it can unfold into several other fields. This is not something absolutely innovative, since Marcel Duchamp, many years before, already defended that playing chess was art, but Beuys, obviously, went much further.
Founder of the Green Party in Germany in 1980, defender of direct democracy, ecologist, his militancy has always been an important facet of his artistic activity. In the field of art, Beuys defended the idea of “social sculpture”, a strategy to reconcile artistic practice with social intervention, as occurred in seven thousand oaks. In 1979, on the occasion of the Documenta in Kassel, Beuys and local residents planted XNUMX oak trees in order to transform the arid German city into one of the most destroyed in the Second World War. Today, Kassel is an example of “social sculpture.
Beuys was also a critic of exclusionary systems. Expelled from the University of Düsseldorf, in 1972, for defending that his classes should be attended by anyone and not just those enrolled in his classes, he created the Frei Internationale Universität (International Free University) together with other colleagues, in 1983, in his own atelier in Düsseldorf.
As can be seen, the political and educational dimensions are essential in his thinking, but not only: he also had a vision of the symbolic importance of art and the first classrooms We are many demonstrate this concern. In addition to drawings that accompany important issues in his work, the sculpture Workplace honey bomb, a machine that pumped honey through the Fridericianum museum during the 6 days of Documenta 1977, in XNUMX, deals precisely with the infiltration of a natural substance, an agent of fertilization, a source of life and immortality. Honey and fat are common elements of Beuys' poetics. With honey he brings life and sweetens art institutions and, in this sense, it is regrettable that the work is seen only as an inanimate sculpture, without actually visiting the Pinacoteca.
However, the show provides other possible experiences of collectivity, as in the performance Ágora, by Maurício Ianês, which will be present during its three-month duration. In it, he creates a living space, where he serves tea and coffee and allows visitors to express themselves through the walls painted in intense red.
Monica Nador and Jardim Miriam Arte Clube (Jamac) are seen in a partnership with the Pinacoteca's Educational Action Center with the Extramuros project, which has existed since 2008. Drawing and woodcut workshops were held for the show, with the results seen in the exhibition itself or outside the museum.
Another experience is the Escola de Arte Útil, by Tania Bruguera, which occupies a room at the show with an intense program throughout its 11 weeks, including a three-day workshop with the artist herself, from October 9 to 11. .
Arte Útil is a concept developed by Bruguera in recent years that defends that art must be able to serve as a tool for social change, capable of being implemented through long-term projects, the subject of the previous edition of ARTE!Brasileiros. Everything to do with Beuys' proposals.
From Oiticica, the show presents the immersive environment Appropriation (Billiard Table, d'après “Van Gogh's Night Cafe”), seen for the first time at the show Opinion 66, at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, in 1966. In it, a real billiard table is available to visitors in a space with red walls similar to a Van Gogh painting. Thus, in addition to having coffee with Ianês, visitors can also play billiards at the show. There, Oiticica includes an important element in his work, which is the pleasure of playing as an element for creating bonds, a transforming concept, especially in contrast to Beuys' Germanic proposals.
Vivian Caccuri's work in the show, by the way, belongs to the playful field, Ode to the Triangle, which uses the musical instrument to create an installation on the possible elements linked to its form and function, which reverberates in dialogue with works in the collection and activations throughout the show.
Finally, the Pinacoteca's octagon is occupied by a demonstration platform, created by the artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, in 2000, and which has had different versions since then. It is a free space to be occupied by various activations throughout the show, from yoga classes to graduation parties. There, the Coletivo Legítima Defesa e Aliadxs, formed with the intention of working on a poetics of the image of blackness and its social and historical developments, presents Negrx re-existence, a poetic-political immersion and two more performances.
With all that, We are many, curated by Amanda Arantes, Fernanda Pitta and Jochen Volz, places the Pinacoteca as a living space that rethinks art and its context, just as Beuys and Oiticica did in their time.