Clarissa Tossin, 'Old Planet' and 'Mars Rising', 2019. PHOTO: Instagram Clarissa Tossin

The Brazilian Clarissa Tossin is one of the highlights of the Discoveries sector of Art Basel Hong Kong, being represented by the Commonwealth and Council gallery, based in Los Angeles. Introducing a new batch of works. In 2018, Tossin had already exhibited in the Asian city, invited to show the work on video Ch'u Maya (2017) on show Emerald City (2018) at the K11 Art Foundation.

The artist spoke to ARTE!Brasileiros about the work he presents at ABHK 2019:

A!B: How did Octavia Butler's book inspire you in these works for Basel Art HK?

Clarissa Tossin: The works presented at Art Basel Hong Kong are part of a larger work that grew out of my interest in Octavia E. Butler's use of indigenous Amazonian traditions in her science fiction trilogy. xenogenesis (1987-89), where the Amazon becomes the site for a new civilization of human-alien hybrids, the Oankali, after Earth's self-inflicted ecological collapse. I love the figure of the Ooloi in the Butler series, they are the undetermined third sex of the Oankali who, in my opinion, embody certain characteristics of a native shaman, given their ability to store all the genetic information they acquire within their bodies by sample ingestion. The fact that the Ooloi “ingests” samples of our living world to understand/decode it offers a connection to Anthropophagy, about cannibalizing culture as a survival strategy: “Only anthropophagy unites us”. Bet Anthropophagic Manifesto was one of Butler's references. I'm also particularly interested in the trilogy's protagonist, Lilith, who embodies traits of an Amazonian warrior. She is tough and resilient and gives rise to a new civilization of hybrids.

A!B: How did your gaze turn to the Amazon?

The Amazon rainforest recurs in my work as a particularly rich site to investigate the implications of global capitalism's commodity chains and, therefore, a perpetuation of colonial forces represented in the region's environment, cultures, and peoples. But the Amazon is the repressed side of Brazilian modernity narratives that portray Brazil's capital front and center. Growing up in Brasília sparked my interest in those unrecognized counter-narratives implicit in the fabricated environment, and informed my earlier work on the Amazon, which focused on the legacy of incursions by extractive professionals and architectural displacements in the forest.

A!B: What is the connection between your works and the thoughts of great nations on the environment today?

The works of Art Basel HK address the consumer society's footprint on the Earth's geological sedimentation as a wake-up call for a delayed collective behavioral change that recognizes that humans are part of nature and that we need to work against the passivity that surrounds this issue.

I believe part of this space obsession comes from our anxiety about the potentially catastrophic results of global warming on Earth, and the other part is just the culture of fear at play to justify creating an interplanetary industry that could eventually use public money and resources. Art Basel HK's works focus on the space race to Mars as an elusive way of approaching today's environmental issues.

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