Hours before the opening of the exhibition of the artists selected for the 1969 Paris Biennale, military personnel arrived at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro. It was a Friday, May 30th. It didn't take them long to close the show, which included works by Antônio Manuel, Humberto Espíndola, Carlos Vergara and Evandro Teixeira.
The reason: they considered it a “provocation” to select for Paris the act recorded by Evandro Teixeira of the fall of a Brazilian Air Force motorcyclist. “The Cultural Department (of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) has not taken any other steps to explain how the issue of Brazilian representation at the Bienal will look like, which will open in September, with the participation of artists from all over the world”, he recorded the following day. the Correio da Manhã newspaper. The works were supposed to be sent to France by July 1st, but that never happened. After all, AI-5 was in effect, which ended individual rights and made prior censorship official.
It happened 50 years ago, censorship and the siege of freedom of expression were established for decades, but the selected artists did not let themselves be destroyed by the heavy hand of the regime. That year, however, Brazil participated in the 1969 Paris Biennale with only two models (by architects Abrão Assad, Roberto Gandolfi, Jaime Lerner, Luiz Forte Netto and José Sanchotene) and three musical compositions (by Almeida Prado,
Cardoso Lidembergue and Marlos Nobre).
On the other hand, the X Bienal de São Paulo, also in 1969, was attended by last-minute guests. Artists from different countries signed the manifesto Non à La Biennale, which had circulated in Europe and the United States, and gave up exhibiting their works in Brazil. Among them was Pierre Restany, who would organize a special room on Art and Technology, together with Pol Bury. Empty spaces in the halls reflected the movement's impact on the show that came to be known as the Boycott Biennial. Sad times. Even sadder at a time when the ghost of censorship is once again hovering over the country.