The second day of the ARTE!Brasileiros International Seminar, on October 9, started with a conversation with the curatorial team of the 3rd edition of Frestas – Triennial of Arts. Organized by Sesc-SP, based on the Sorocaba unit, the continuous program brings together local artists from 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. Early in her speech dela, Diane pointed out that, as a collective curator, two key points are triggered: the negotiations and the contradictions that constitute the curatorial process. As three non-white curators, they realized the gap in representation and chose to think about the policies and contradictions within these representative and identity. “We have a scenario in Brazil where seeing us here today would be in the category not of the art of the possible, as proposed by the theme of the seminar, but of the art of the impossible, and that goes through our curatorship”, said Diane.
With the title The river is a serpent, this edition of the Triennial brings together cosmologies and worldviews “that do not pass only through economic and social spheres, that sustain a collection of knowledge and Afro-indigenous, native and ancestral thoughts”, says the curator. For the trio,The river is a serpent is not a theme, but a worldview interested in gathering and presenting the lessons we have learned so far”, explains Diane.
Between negotiations and contradictions
Beatriz Lemos points out that the apprenticeships started with the understanding of which is the Sorocaba floor, 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 the educational”, she explains.
In order to expand these negotiations, understand and other Brazilian narratives, in addition to their own knowledge and repertoires, the trio embarked on a trip around the country. “The most important thing for us was to build a collective trip, 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 seek to understand in different ways the magnitude of these natures and how environmental crime strategies operated”, she 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, which cancel out a fruition of pleasure and contact of environmental means to black, indigenous, non-white and migrant communities”, explains Beatriz. To which Diane complements: “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 develop a slightly less brutal horizon in which violence does not shape our existence”.
To maintain this idea, they sought “curatorial experiments in dialogue with artists who have lives and practices directly connected with colonial violence, without contributing to the assimilation of these practices”, explains the curator.
When the river takes the shape of a serpent
In his speech, Thiago explained that, in this second half of 2020, the trio develops a program of studies, based on meetings with a group of 15 artists. Composed of training activities, it aims to promote radical educational practices and, at the same time, encourage policies for redistribution and access to art. In addition to this program, free and open online actions are planned, such as courses, seminars, lectures, editorial releases, film and video shows and a teacher training program.
The result of Frestas is different from what was thought at the beginning, because 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 it, but at certain points it 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 subordinate? And it is this issue that The river is a serpent you intend 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.