Beatriz Lemos, Thiago de Paula Souza and Diane Lima, curators of the 3rd edition of Frestas - Trienal de Artes
Beatriz Lemos, Thiago de Paula Souza and Diane Lima are the curators of the 3rd edition of Frestas - Trienal de Artes, organized by Sesc Sorocaba. Photo: Indiara Duarte

O second day of the International Seminar ARTE!Brasileiros, on October 9 (watch), began with a conversation with the curatorial team of the 3rd edition of Frestas – Trienal de Artes. Organized by Sesc-SP, based on the Sorocaba unit, the SCHEDULE continuum brings local artists closer to regional and international productions, establishing a dialogue between social issues specific to the Brazilian context and reflections from the global sphere.

In this edition, the curatorial team is formed by Beatriz Lemos, Diane Lima and Thiago de Paula Souza, who participated in the seminar. Right at the beginning of her speech, Diane pointed out that, being a collective curatorship, two key points are triggered: the negotiations and the contradictions that constitute the curatorial process. Being three non-white curators, they realized the existing abyss in representation and chose to think about the negotiations and contradictions within these representative and identity policies. “We have a scenario in Brazil where to see us here today would be in the category not of the art of the possible, as the theme of the seminar proposes, but of the art of the impossible, and this crosses our curatorship”, said Diane.

With the title the river is a serpent, this edition of the Triennale brings together cosmologies and cosmovisions “that do not only pass through economic and social spheres, which support a collection of Afro-indigenous, native and ancestral knowledge and thoughts”, says the curator. For the trio, "the river is a serpent it is not a topic, but a cosmovision interested in gathering and presenting the lessons learned so far”, explains Diane.

Between negotiations and contradictions

Beatriz Lemos points out that the lessons learned began with the understanding of the soil of Sorocaba, where Frestas would be installed. For this, they held listening meetings in the city and created a dialogue with artists, producers, managers and educators. “It was from there that we realized that our starting points would be the territory and education”, she explains.

Diane Lima, Beatriz Lemos and Thiago de Paula Souza, curators of Frestas, in the Serra da Capivara National Park, in Piauí
During the curatorial trip, the trio visited the Serra da Capivara National Park, in Piauí. Photo: Personal archive

In order to expand these negotiations and understand other narratives of Brazil, in addition to their own knowledge and repertoires, the trio embarked on a trip across the country. “The most important thing for us was to build a collective journey, so that from this body in movement and in conflict with other territories we could create this curatorial body”, says Beatriz.

They made an initial two-month route through locations in the North and Northeast. Thus, they came into contact with the local logic of the art circuits and the sociability of these specific regions. “We sought to understand in different ways the grandeur of these natures and how the strategies of environmental crimes operated”, he says. For Beatriz, this would be the way to understand how large private initiatives affect traditional, quilombola and indigenous communities in the regions, through environmental racism. This, in turn, consists of “practices, historically legitimized, that nullify a fruition of pleasure and contact of environmental means to black, indigenous, non-white and migrant communities”, explains Beatriz. To which Diane adds: “In fact, artistic practices and their expressions are tools to overcome these natural collapses that we have been experiencing”.

For Thiago, understanding this scenario was essential, as a way of building a curatorial practice that “seeks collaboration as an ethical way of imagining the world in another way; to ask how contemporary art can help us to develop a slightly less brutal horizon in which violence does not shape our existences”.

To maintain this idea, they sought “curatorial experiments in dialogue with artists whose life and practice are directly connected with colonial violence, without contributing to the assimilation of these practices”, explains the curator.

When the river takes the form of a serpent

In his speech, Thiago explained that, in the second half of 2020, the trio is developing a study program, based on meetings with a group of 15 artists. Comprised of training activities, it aims to encourage radical educational practices and, at the same time, encourage policies of redistribution and access to art. In addition to this program, there are free online actions open to the public, such as courses, seminars, lectures, editorial launches, film and video screenings and a teacher training program.

The result of Frestas is different from what was thought at the beginning, as the edition was prepared in a pre-pandemic world. However, the situation seemed to intensify the message that the curatorship intended to convey. “The pandemic not only reveals the obscenity of the country's racial and class structures, but also the obscenity in the sense of what the art system has always tried to hide”, explains Diane. For her, the global situation did not prevent, but at certain points even reinforced, an important question of this thought: What does it mean to be a dissident and racialized body within the contemporary art circuit, which has always made our knowledge invisible and subordinated? And it is this question that The river is the serpent intends to reflect.

Interested? Watch the full conversation with Frestas curators at the VI International Seminar: in defense of nature and culture – the art of the possible by clicking here.

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