portrait of Rugendas
The last trench [Portrait of Rugendas], Nicolas Soares, 2020
By Nicolas Soares

A The urgency of demands for the relocation of subjects and their dissident identities within culture have become battlefronts in recent years and point to a definitive sociocultural restructuring in many areas, especially in art, from the strengthening of epistemologies from the margins towards the center. Marginalized, racialized subjects, stereotyped by the European colonial historical heritage and its affluence in emerging territories – children of the colony – recover their per(courses)(shims) in the solemn pages of History. The historical review driven by the assumption of a southern epistemology (for all those who were oppressed and asphyxiated by just one possibility of being in the world) is in progress, in an attempt to break down the barricades of the Institution of Art and Culture, because it is manifestation (in terms of the symptom and the conflict) in the streets and in the personal as a politician. The geopolitical globe is reorienting its axis, and its hemispheres disqualifying themselves from Cartesian latitude and longitude coordinates.

On the one hand, we revolve around the structure in which socio-historical impediments, which try to shape certain identities, reinforce images of racialization, weakening subjects throughout the History of Culture. In contrast, we perceive the frictions, twists and ruptures in the art system through emancipatory events elaborated by these subjects. In an exercise of overcoming the figurative, for example, outlined by Debret, Rugendas, or Christiano Júnior and many other colonial artists of yesteryear, in which for some time they created representations of a certain typology of the image. Black/black, indigenous and non-white artists, their productions and the attention they received continue to be covered by the paradigm of primitivism [1], less as a form and language that they create, and yes, more, it seems, as a reinforcement of the folklorization of a colonial framework.

The Last Trench/The Walled Image, Nicolas Soares, 2020

Overcoming this representation is to put an end to the figurative under the design of iconography. And iconography, in the sense of a banner. For even the image is the lure that guides the subjects, the policies and the organization of a society. The expectation that current art weighs on black/black and indigenous artists wants to match image x imaginary, and also determines which and how images are (re)produced and consumed, in addition to which and how artists should produce. The position taken by black/black and indigenous artists in the art system today must always oppose the institutional need to respond to an iconography that still exoticizes bodies, ways of living, spiritualities and customs through a behavior of the good savage and We here by they there.

The manumission of the image should escape towards an iconoclastic mobilization [2]. Less the illustration of canons in its stereotyped character, and yes, the suppression of the savior image that exterminates certain subjects. Representation has already been in question throughout a History of Western Art, and its annihilation has already been a goal in favor of a pure, technical art, free of iconographic narrative. Concretism, as an artistic movement, reinforced the forms, planes, colors, materials, spatiality, and, mainly, the non-subjectivity of art as art-itself. Nothing to see anymore. The objectivity of the black square on a white background, however, hid the refinement of representation in its narrative performance. It was still a figure, still in the sense of devotion to the image.

Antianatomy, Luciano Feijão, 2020

The re-elaboration of the self-narrative starts from the concreteness in which subjects racialized by this regime of images elaborate their existence. The segregation is CONCRETE, as the non-possibility of subjectivation, individualization and affections is CONCRETE. REINFORCED CONCRETE on the history of erasure; of non-image. Structural CONCRETE that built the subalternization of some in favor of few, justified by the image. To these artists today, CONCRETO presents itself in the fragmentation of the historical body in the tension for an anti-anatomy [3] that is antithesis to the Grand Representation. This one new concrete it combines with experiences, with daily life, with materials, with corporalities, not in contribution to the iconographic representation of the image of oneself – as a positive reinforcement of the historical denial of seeing oneself –, but in the exercise of stopping the image, however not the discourse.

We understand that the emergence of the production of black/black and indigenous artists must respond beyond an “identity institutional agenda”, but be structured in the field and in the art system as fundamental for the advances of other epistemologies, which touch the hegemony organized by centuries of a Westernized and Europeanized History of Art. For, if in the clash of art there is art itself – of life as art –, how can we find ourselves again in an exit to memory and history? ✱


[1] The term here refers to the European movement that defined the barrier of thought and artistic production between modern industrial Europe and the rest of the world.
[2] ICONOCLASTY: That or who opposes the cult of images; it does not respect traditions, monuments or conventions. See Boris Groys; Power Art.
[3] Term that gives title to research by Luciano Feijão (ES).

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