Luiz Zerbini,
Luiz Zerbini, "A Primeira Missa", 2014. Courtesy Masp. Photo: Pat Kilgore.

By Alessandra Simões

Rand appropriation for repair. This has been the keynote of the centenary celebrations of the 1922 Modern Art Week, which reinforce the changes that have been going through the art system in recent years. The centenary is painted with the tones of decolonialism in a complex operation, which reveals the circularities between the notions of alterity and cultural appropriation, but with an apparently simple end: there is no longer any way to discuss class, without discussing race and gender. Most of these discussions are about the notion of “re-anthropophagy”, regardless of the connection between the Semana de 22 and the later anthropophagic moment (theme of debate in historiography in general). That is, if the historical avant-gardes aimed at forging national identity based on the notion of social/geopolitical class and on cultural appropriations based on the identity kidnapping of original cultures, for contemporary artists this account is not complete. It is necessary to make use of intersectionality, to put everything together in the cauldron of decoloniality and to reappropriate these ideas and aesthetics to repair the evils caused by colonization in the field of arts, the greatest of them, the silencing of indigenous and Afro-diasporic poetics. In this sense, numerous exhibitions, debates and some publications this year highlight the cultural looting and intellectual subordination of traditional, regional, indigenous and Afro-Brazilian cultures, and regions outside the Rio-SP axis, by the Brazilian modernist avant-gardes. These actions feed back the conceptual contours about the decolonial bias as the most urgent agenda in contemporary art, which finds in this framework of Brazilian modernism the opportunity to re-discuss narrow themes in the artistic debate of that moment, such as racial and gender segregation.

One of the new lenses for the reinterpretation of this historical moment has been the idea of ​​“re-anthropophagy”, used by artists to define the need to devour those who previously devoured them. These artists show that the term so vaunted by Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954) to define the cultural swallowing of European values ​​covered up the other devouring that took place in parallel, that of the culture of the native and Afro-Diasporic peoples by artists of the aristocratic elite. of the time. The reinterpretation of the term had already gained strength with the exposition Re-Anthropophagy, in 2019, at the Centro de Artes da Universidade Federal Fluminense, having among its curators the artist Denilson Baniwa, who presented at the time the homonymous canvas that represents the severed head of Mário de Andrade (1893-1945), offered on a straw tray, and next to the book Macunaíma with a small note that says: “Here lies the simulacrum Macunaíma, the idea of ​​the Brazilian people and the anthropophagy seasoned with bordeaux and mongolian pax lie together. May Makunaimî be reborn from this long digestion and the original anthropophagy that belongs to us indigenous people”. Makunaimã, the deity that inhabited Mount Roraima in time immemorial, had also been “redevoured” by the artist Jaider Esbell in his poetic-imagery work (2018), and by the collective that wrote the piece Makunaimã: the myth through the ages (2019) a very interesting conversation between several people who question the cultural appropriation of Mário de Andrade. In the play, the puzzle is distilled: Mário de Andrade who appropriated Theodor Koch-Grünberg, who collected the sacred indigenous mythology, which is now re-appropriated by those to whom it originally belongs. All with great respect, as it is in the book: dedicated to Akuli Taurepang and Theodor Koch-Grünberg. 

If modernist anthropophagy was not yet contextualized by the tension between race-ethnicity and gender, today, this has been the motto of its critical review. After all, in Oswald de Andrade's Manifesto Antropofágico, in 1928, there was really no mention of Afro-Brazilian culture (CARDOSO, p. 207, 2022). The statement “Só a antropofagia nos unites”, present in the manifesto, has now become a question, “Só a Antropofagia nos unites?”, printed on the cover of The Brooklyn Rail magazine, launched in February 2021 and co-edited by the American writer Sara Roffino and the Brazilian artist Tiago Gualberto. The edition features texts by several Brazilian authors, such as Sandra Benites, Denilson Baniwa and Vivian Braga dos Santos. The writings are direct responses to the idealism of the time, such as the beautiful poetic text by the black artist Caetano Dias, Anytime Hard Meat, which begins like this: “My land does not have palm trees, nor thrush songs. In this open field, there is no weeds and so few stray dogs with crossroads”. Baniwa presents a small modernist counter-manifesto, also entitled re-anthropophagy, in which he asks that “(…) Makünaimî and the original anthropology that belong to us indigenous be reborn”. 

According to Select magazine, Sara and Tiago started their dialogue in 2018, when, due to Tarsila do Amaral's retrospective at MoMA-NY, Sara was amazed by the painting the black (1923). For her, the exhibition demonstrated a reductionist view of modernism in Brazil, with racist and idealistic aspects. By the way, Tarsila’s work was the starting point for the “reappropriation” of artist Renata Felinto in the work Axexê da Negra or The rest of women who deserved to be loved (2017), a performance that, based on references in the rituals of candomblé nagô, proposes among its actions the burial of a reproduction of the work as a metaphor for the burial of the collective spirituality of black women who were wet nurses in Brazil (such as the model of the work, Tarsila's anonymous nanny). It is, therefore, the burial of the “infinite cult of modernist models that carry within themselves the racist genesis of the slave-owning elites”, as Felinto affirmed..

Digital collage by Tadeu Kaingang, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.
Digital collage by Tadeu Kaingang, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

The collective Kókir, formed by the artists Sheilla Souza and Tadeu Kaingang, works with the premise of an “anthropophagy of the revolt” to criticize Eurocentric modernity. The collective signals the refusal of the subalternity imposed by coloniality on indigenous people, through collective and shared actions that articulate artists, non-artists, indigenous people of different ethnicities, non-indigenous people; strategies for the occupation of urban and indigenous territories to debate the law, ethnography and politics of spaces; highly conceptual propositions, but which embrace the understanding and pleasure of form and contemplation; uses of technologies and new media to talk about ancestry; transits between objects and prosaic practices, such as Kaingang basketwork, which reveal the aesthetic generosity of everyday life. It is a process of aesthetic-political swallowing that reverses the “anthropophagy” of the colonizers as a sign of submission and extermination. The “anthropophagy of the re-volt” would indicate the way back to the affirmation of the identity of the native peoples, which can be seen in his works exhibited this year in three exhibitions: Ẽpry Nẽn Mág – Paths to the Forest, at Casa de Eva, in Campinas; Krecity, at the Consulate of Brazil, in the Netherlands: in Amsterdam; and in the show Anthropophagy of the Re-volta, within the collective ARTS to DISCOVER INDIGENOUS CULTURES, curated by Sebastián Gerlic (a realization shared between Helder Camara Jr. and the NGO Thydêwá), which was shown at the Memorial of Indigenous Peoples, in Brasília (online version: www.AEI.art.Br/artes/). Another interesting “reappropriation for reparation” is also present in this collective exhibition. It's about the work Tapuya Abaporu (2022), by indigenous artist Kadu Tapuya, who pays homage to 100 years of Modernism in Brazil, remixing “Abapuru” with a digital collage in which he expresses his poetics based on the idea of ​​an “indigenous futurism”.

Tapuya Abaporu, Kadu Tapuya, digital collage. Courtesy of the artist.
Tapuya Abaporu, Kadu Tapuya, digital collage. Courtesy of the artist.

In chorus of decolonial revisionism, Itaú Cultural chose to launch a series of interviews on its website based on questions such as: What would this week of opposition to conservatism in art be if it took place today? Would it be more plural, less centralized, more inclusive? Who would be in these people's “class” if the Modern Art Week took place today? The Mekukradjá – a circle of knowledge, a cycle of debates, held annually by the institution – started this year from the poem Portuguese error, by Oswald de Andrade, to ask one more question: What do we learn if the indigenous undress Brazil? Curated by educators Daniel Munduruku and Naine Terena and anthropologist Júnia Torres, Mekukradjá was also based on Denilson Baniwa’s notion of re-anthropophagy, who stated on the institution’s website: “Re-anthropophagy is to review – to see again – what has not been seen. Perhaps to reveal – to remove the veil – of what was hidden from us when ancestral voices had no echo in a Brazilian society that rehearsed getting to know itself by knowing the unknown, purposely left hidden. Wanting to re-anthropophagy is to stop being just food and also be the one who feeds on what they made of us.” The Pinacoteca de São Paulo also launched a series of debates entitled 1922: modernisms in debate with the aim of gathering a wide diversity of opinions on the framework.

The critical review of the narratives established from the Semana de 22 onwards was also the starting point for the curatorial proposal of the exhibition nakoada, curated by Denilson Baniwa and Beatriz Lemos, which will be on display at MAM in Rio de Janeiro, between July 2022 and January 2023. With commissioned projects by contemporary artists and a selection of the main modernist works present in the collections of MAM Rio, the Nakoada show brings in its title the set of Baniwa war ethics. In its vast field of meanings, Nakoada would be the study and deep understanding of another culture to exercise the ability to capture non-indigenous knowledge and build narratives that are radical in the continuity of indigenous life and knowledge. “In other words, a counter-anthropophagy or re-anthropophagy”, stated Beatriz Lemos, confirming the curatorial purpose of criticizing the discourses of legitimation and centrality of a modernist ideal in the country, whose construction insists on the invisibility of people, creations and narratives located outside the great centers and originating from other perceptions of the world.

Despite not declaring a specific policy to commemorate the 22nd Week, Masp has been holding exhibitions that are part of the museum's biennium dedicated to Brazilian Histories, in 2021-22, which includes exhibitions by Alfredo Volpi (1896-1988), Luiz Zerbini, Dalton Paula, Joseca Yanomami, Madalena dos Santos Reinbolt (1919-1977), Judith Lauand and Cinthia Marcelle, in addition to a large collective, Brazilian stories. Sample Abdias Nascimento: a Panamanian artist, curated by Amanda Carneiro, assistant curator, and Tomás Toledo, chief curator, is the largest exhibition dedicated to the visual work of the artist, activist, writer, playwright, actor, theater director, poet, journalist and university professor, a key figure in recent Brazilian political and cultural life. The show features 61 paintings made over three decades, from 1968 to 1998, the artist's most fruitful period. The exhibition's book-catalog shows a great overview of the artist's visual work, in which characters, iconographies, insignia and themes of Afro-Brazilian religiosities appear, elaborated in dialogue with the tradition of geometric abstraction and in the representation of symbols. Africans, like the adinkras. Organized by Adriano Pedrosa and Amanda Carneiro, the volume contains unpublished essays by Amanda Carneiro, Glaucea Helena de Britto, Kimberly Cleveland, Raphael Fonseca and Tulio Custódio and a historic interview with Elisa Larkin Nascimento conducted by Tomás Toledo, as well as reprinted texts by Lélia Gonzalez. and Abdias Nascimento.

even the exposure Luiz Zerbini: the same story is never the same, curated by Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director, Masp, and Guilherme Giufrida, assistant curator, can be interpreted within the bias of the rereading of the Semana de 22. The idea that “the same story is never the same” points to the repetition of stories over the centuries, as well as the need to create other narratives for these episodes, giving rise to new readings, protagonists and images. With around 50 works, most of them unpublished, the exhibition includes five large-scale paintings with a strong aesthetic impact, four of them produced especially for the show, in which the artist critically revisits historical painting. Used to depict landmark events in a nation, such as wars, battles, independence and abolition, this “pre-week of 22” painting genre often idealized or romanticized landmarks and characters in the service of dominant ideologies. In 2014, Zerbini recreated one of the most classic images of Brazilian historical painting, in his iconic First Mass, formulating a new representation for this scene that took place in 1500, which is an emblem of Portuguese colonization in Brazil. These works are also presented in an extensive book-catalog. The exhibition also includes 29 paper monotypes from the series Macunaima (2017), conceived for an edition of the book of the same name by Mário de Andrade (1893-1945), a landmark in Brazilian modernist literature.

The ecological debate, also an important aspect of the decolonial, was expressed through the review of the Semana de 22 in the exhibition Mundane Art Week, at the Kogan Amaro Gallery. Mud from the criminal tragedy of Brumadinho, ash from fires in the cerrado, in the Amazon, in the Atlantic Forest and in the Pantanal and oil that reached the beaches of the northeast are elements that the artist Mundano had already used for his works. Now, specifically in relation to the Week, the artist has appropriated the aesthetics of the iconic poster of the Modern Art Week, by Di Cavalcanti, proposing a questioning about the current moment and its dizzying acceleration towards the destruction of Brazilian environmental heritage. The work won an NFT version, with a stop motion animation in which the change of the original statement for Semana de Arte Mundana and the image of the sprout that grew and ended up being cut like many trees appears, giving the idea of ​​rupture.

One of the biggest exhibitions referring to the centenary of 22 is the exhibition Post-Modernism Brazilianity, at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (initially in Rio de Janeiro), curated by Tereza de Arruda, who also focused on the present to rethink the history, bringing together works by 51 artists, produced from the 1960s to the present, some of which were unpublished, that is, already with a maturity and with a historical distance from the beginnings of Brazilian modernity. Painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, installation, new media, among other languages, seek to show a version of the discussions brought about by the Week in a diversified and mixed-race, regional and cosmopolitan, popular and erudite, folkloric and urban way. The feeling is that this is a great outline of the Week, whose apex is contemporaneity, with the participation of artists such as Adriana Varejão, Alex Flemming, André Azevedo, Anna Bella Geiger, Armarinhos Teixeira, Arnaldo Antunes, Augusto de Campos, Barrão , Berna Reale, Beatriz Milhazes, Camila Soato, Caetano Dias, Cildo Meireles, Daiara Tukano, Daniel Lie, Delson Uchôa, Ernesto Neto, Emmanuel Nassar, Fábio Baroli, Farnese de Andrade, Flávio Cerqueira, Floriano Romano, Francisco de Almeida, Gê Viana , Glauco Rodrigues, Gisele Camargo, Jaider Esbell, Joaquim Paiva, Jorge Bodansky, José De Quadros, José Rufino, Judith Lauand, Júlio Plaza, Lenora de Barros, Lina Bo Bardi, Lúcio Costa, Luiz Hermano, Luzia Simons, Márcia Xavier, Marlene Almeida, Maxwell Alexandre, Mira Schendel, Nelson Leirner, Oscar Niemeyer, Paulo Nazareth, Rejane Cantoni, Rodrigo Braga, Rosana Paulino, Rosilene Luduvico, Shirley Paes Leme and Tunga. The plurality of voices also appears in the exhibition catalog with texts by Bel Santos Mayer, Ernani Chaves, Idjahure Kadiwel and Leonor Amarante.

Among the books released on the occasion of the Semana de 22, two stand out for their revisionist proposal with a decolonial nature. The work Modernism in black and white: art and image, race and identity in Brazil, 1890-1945 (Cia das Letras), by Rafael Cardoso, questions the association of modernism with a select group from São Paulo and claims the modernity of manifestations of mass culture, such as the illustrated press, advertising, popular music and even Carnival, especially the from the panorama of the capital of Rio de Janeiro. The book presents an extremely consistent research with a very innovative approach, illuminating unusual points about Brazilian modernism, including mainly the racial issue. already the book Modernisms: 1922-2022, organized by Gênese Andrade, brings 29 unpublished essays, with the participation of intellectuals such as José Miguel Wisnik, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Renata Felinto and Walnice Nogueira Galvão, who contribute with a wide panorama of reflections on the Week of 22 and its consequences, revisiting his memories and critical fortune.

The centenary of the Semana de 22 seems to evoke and confirm a new moment for the Brazilian art system, which has been finding many interesting biases for the discussion of decoloniality. In such a cloudy political moment, in which the policies of oppression of culture show even more the mechanisms of cultural stratification in the country, the possibility of debating and reviewing this historical landmark with realistic data and without banal idealizations points to a maturing of the decolonial discussion. , which shows how much it is possible to recognize the limitations of the past, without falling into generalizing and empty discussions. The actions that took place this year have shown that it is necessary to recognize the innovative character of 22, when artists proposed to overcome European paradigms and welcome new parameters for national art. However, they point out that these changes were mostly restricted to an elite permeated by the slave and racist culture, consolidated even more by the centrality of São Paulo. 

As Bel Santos Mayer (2022) stated, we can also celebrate the fact that, with the advent of modernism, literature is no longer the exclusive subject of academics about “immortals and their majestic libraries”. The author also points out that Mário de Andrade's proposal for the Brazilianization of language and literature as a form of freedom and independence from Portuguese norms was strange until it was seen as a contribution to national linguistics. “Her steps paved the way for, in the 1970s, the intellectual and activist Lélia Gonzales (1935-1994) to point to Africanization in the Portuguese spoken mainly by black women: 'Pretuguês'. In the 1990s, another black intellectual, Conceição Evaristo, coined the term 'writings' to talk about written life and the life that is written in a society marked by racism”. Thus, the Semana de 22 consecrates itself as a legitimate moment of freedom for artistic production, with expressive value for its provocations on the notions of nation and national identity. Currently, the decolonial movement, which affirms the existence of other experiments and creations, signals that the inventory of this modern landmark will always be changing. After all, art reconfigures itself as the world changes, being at the same time a transforming agent of the world. It is in this paradox that the richness of the decolonial debate about the Week of 22 resides.

References

ANDRADE, Genesis (org.). Modernisms: 1922-2022. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2022.

BANIWA, Denilson. “The human being as the poison of the world”. Interview granted to Julie Dorrico and Ricardo Machado. IHU Online, São Leopoldo, n. 527, 2018. Available at http://www.ihuonline.unisinos.br/artigo/7397-o-ser-humano-como-veneno-do-mundo Accessed on: 16 May 2019.

CARDOSO, Raphael. Modernism in black and white: art and image, race and identity in Brazil, 1890-1945. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2022.

DINATO, D. ReAntropofagia: the territorial resumption of art. MODES Art History Magazine. Campinas, v. 3, no. 3, p.276-284, Sept. 2019. Available at: ˂https://www.publionline.iar.unicamp.br/index.php/mod/article/view/4224˃. IT HURTS: https://doi.org/10.24978/mod.v3i3.4224.

ESBEL, Jaider. Macunaima: my grandfather in me! In Image and Decolonization: plural imaginaries in motion. Illuminations Magazine, v. 19 no. 46, 2018. Available at https://seer.ufrgs.br/iluminuras/article/view/85241. Accessed on 09/04/2022

GUALBERTO, Tiago; ROFFINO, Sarah. Only anthropophagy unites us? Available in:; https://brooklynrail.org/2021/02/criticspage/Cartas-aos-Leitorxs. Accessed on May 07, 2022.

MARQUEZ, Renata. The language of jaguars and otters. Art and Essays, Rio de Janeiro, PPGAV-UFRJ, vol. 26, no. 40, p. 361-373, Jul./Dec. 2020. ISSN-2448-3338. IT HURTS: https://doi.org/10.37235/ae.n40.25. Available: http://revistas. ufrj.br/index.php/ae. Accessed on May 04, 2022.

MAYER, Bel Santos. Literary daring with Brazilian accents. In Brasilidade postmodernismo (Curator Tereza de Arruda). São Paulo: Base7 Projetos Culturais, 2021. Available: https://ccbb.com.br/programacao-digital/tour-virtual-360-brasilidade-pos-modernismo/ Accessed on May 01, 2022.

TAUREPANG,… [et al.]. “Makunaimã: the myth through the ages”. São Paulo: Editora Elefante (2019).

Leave a comment

Please write a comment
Please write your name