Arjan Martins, Untitled. Credit: Courtesy of the artist and A Gentil Carioca

In the spacious halls in Hollywood rococo style, which look like the scene of a musical by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, 12 black artists address the trauma of slavery during the navigation period, in the exhibition An ocean to wash your hands, curated by Marcelo Campos and Filipe Graciano.

The exhibition inaugurates the Sesc Quitandinha Cultural Center, in Petrópolis (RJ), with an exhibition area of ​​around 3 thousand square meters, which operates on the ground floor of the building with a Norman-French style exterior.

Built in 1944 to be the largest casino hotel in South America, Palácio Quitandinha did not last long in its main function, as President Dutra, in 1946, banned gambling in the country, making life difficult for the hotel itself, which closed in 1962. your doors. Transformed into a luxury condominium, the social areas are currently managed by Sesc.

For the exhibition, the largest space in Quitandinha, where the casino's gaming room was located, is occupied by an immense installation with six canvases by Aline Motta, which, as is her custom, starts from family memories to address questions about identity and the Afro-Atlantic condition.

The room has in the central area a vault 18 meters above the floor, made to reverberate the sound of chips and ice in the glasses of Rio's then elite. Now it has become a space for reflection on social issues that many of those who set foot there must have had direct responsibility for the structural racism that continues in the country. Or more precisely, as Campos points out, “the way black artists deal with the navigation period”.

According to the curator, the exhibition also seeks to “rethink Petrópolis”, known for being the imperial city, since during the summer it was there that D. Pedro 2º lived, thus becoming the capital of the country. At the same time, the region was home to several quilombos, including Tapera, in Vale das Videiras, a quilombola community recognized by the Palmares Foundation in 2011. At least three other quilombos are known in the area.

Therefore, it is notable that the inauguration of the cultural center observes these traumas of Brazilian society from current black production, and with two curators very engaged in this debate: Marcelo Campos is assistant curator of the exhibition of the Brazils, on display at Sesc Belenzinho, as well as chief curator at the Rio Art Museum; while Filipe Graciano is the creator of the Museum of Black Memory, in Petrópolis, and coordinator of the Promotion of Racial Equality in the municipality.

The first room of the exhibition, despite the space not being exactly linear, is occupied by Ayrson Heráclito with one of his most iconic works, the diptych The shaking of the Tower House e The Shaking of the Maison des Esclaves in Gorée (2015). In them, performative actions of “shaking” exorcise two historic buildings, located on opposite banks of the Atlantic Ocean, of their colonial and slavery past. Also participating in the exhibition are Arjan Martins, Azizi Cypriano, Cipriano,

Juliana dos Santos, Lidia Lisbôa, Moisés Patrício, Nádia Taquary, Rosana Paulino, Thiago Costa and Tiago Sant'ana.

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