Miguel Chikaoka Salvaterra, PA – 1994

In Belém to teach a course on curatorship, I visited the solemn Museum of the State of Pará (MEP) which, together with the Museum of Art of the Federal University (MUFPA), in 2019 house the 10th edition of the Diário Contemporâneo Award Project.[1]. The Project, under the coordination of Mariano Klautau Filho, each year transforms Belém into one of the main points of Brazil for those who want to see, reflect and discuss the country's contemporary art, with photography and photographic image as its privileged axis.

In this edition, the artists who responded to the public notice for the show were selected by the jury formed by Octavio Cardoso, Heldilene Reale and Isabel Gouvêa, who chose a powerful group of works by artists from the most diverse regions of the country. Along with some works by guest artists, they formed the exhibition on display at the MEP.

don't take flowers, by Rodrigo Pinheiro and Ton Zaranza, was the piece that perhaps most impressed me. Composed of a series of photographic portraits in 40 x 40 cm format, they record the most diverse people. Next to each portrait - as if it were the caption -, a printed statement of the person portrayed, reporting what their feelings and actions were during October 28, 2018, for those who don't remember, the day on which the victory of the current president of the company was confirmed. Republic. don't take flowers managed to link to the already hypercoded dimension of the portrait a delicacy in the pose, in the lighting and in the colored background of the images that reinforce the coupled testimonies, reports of the apprehensions that gravitated during that fateful day. What also aroused my interest was the fact that the work, although configured as a gallery of portraits/depositions of part of the LGBT+ community in Rio de Janeiro, is not restricted to that community, as it expresses the fears of a significant part of Brazilian society. facing the becoming in which we entered that day.

But this was not the only work that caught my attention at the MEP (whose architecture, in itself, is worth a visit). Still there, a closer look at the exhibited production revealed the work of other instigating artists: Julia Milward, from São Paulo, and her series, “Renomes”, was one of them. The artist works on appropriate photos from social columns from the 1950s and 1950s, in which the names of the women portrayed were replaced by indications of professional activities and the names of their respective husbands. Reinforcing the erasure of these women as individuals, Milward transplants the images to a support that emulates the draping of the sumptuous robes of most of those portrayed and, in this process, at the same time reinforcing the association of each work with the draping of the dresses of evening, makes this arrangement disappear with the face of the portrayed. Below each photograph, in chromed metal, an indication of the owner of each of the women: “Mrs. Ambassador So-and-so”, “Mrs. Beltrano Counselor” etc.

Aside from this more explicit activist bias (but that never loses its delicacy), the exhibition presents other expressions of interest: the series “Angelus”, by Maria Baigur, from Bahia, for example, resignifies the documentation of the urban landscape – almost all, nowadays, subservient to a taste derived from the German school of photography – registering in each of the urban images that exhibits elements that humanize them, removing them from the common pit of current “art” photography, cold and distant. In addition to this essay by Baigur, it is impossible to remain immune to such diverse and powerful productions, such as those by Mateus Sá, from Pernambuco, José Diniz, Rio and by Renan Teles, São Paulo, among many others, productions that shake the certainties rooted in that building some centenary times.


If in the segment of the exhibition presented at MEP, in addition to the production of some guests, artists who signed up for this year's public notice, at the Museum of Art of the Federal University of Pará, due to the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Award, are presented works by artists already present in the Contemporary Diary Collection and some guests.

This exhibition is unique in that it presents practically only works belonging to the Collection, giving the public contact with the production of some of the most significant artists in the contemporary Brazilian scene and who, due to the most diverse circumstances, reside or have lived in Belém. The show, as it were, produces a delicate anthology of works by Miguel Chikaoka, for example, an artist whose importance cannot be reduced to the fact (grandiose in itself, by the way) of having been responsible for the formation of generations of artists in Belém. Chikaoka there is presented as an artist whose sensitivity, in the way he operates the photographic camera, demonstrates that documentary photography can indeed go far beyond the mere recording of the real, when operated by someone who knows how to see in them something that transcends facts and the circumstances.


The show is also lavish in presenting the production of one of the best-known artists from Pará beyond the borders of the state: Luiz Braga. There we find the artist with works that decidedly remove him from the commitment that was granted to him as a representative of the “Amazonian visuality”. Outside of this bias, Braga reveals himself to be the greatest artist who has already shown himself to be, since the black and white photos, produced in the 1970s, exhibited at MUFPA. Braga's participation in the show gains even greater prominence with the presentation of some of his photographs in color, produced in residential interiors and without any more evident regionalist appeal. Finally, the exhibition also brings a surprise to the public for those interested in Luiz Braga’s production: a video – a very rare piece (perhaps unique) within his work – in which the anthropological record is expanded in its meaning by the images produced by the artist.

Artists of the significance of Claudia Leão, Dirceu Maués, Flavya Mutran, Geraldo Ramos, Janduari Simões, Jorane Castro and Walda Marques, complete the team of artists who constitute, at MUPFA, perhaps the most consistent core of photography produced a few decades ago in Pará.


A fact that can already be seen in the paragraphs above, makes the Diário Contemporâneo program unique in the Brazilian scene: the fact that, in addition to annually putting Belém in touch with part of what is most stimulating in Brazil in terms of contemporary art, the Prize – based on agreements signed with the Museu da Casa das Onze Janelas and the Museum of the Federal University of Pará – take the works awarded by the Project to their respective collections. Acting in this way, the Prize is no longer just one of the events linked to contemporary art in Belém, to become an important promoter of the collections of the two aforementioned museums, both public (the first state, the second, federal) . This agreement between the entity promoting the event – ​​Diário do Pará – and the two museums, demonstrates how it is possible to produce projects of excellence by uniting the private sector and Brazilian public museums, always lacking funds to expand their respective collections.

With each edition of the Award, it should be noted that the panel of judges is changed, thus ensuring the presence of a diverse range of points of view from respected professionals from all regions of the country. In this type of shared responsibility, the Diário do Pará wins, which associates its brand with two reputable public institutions, the two museums win and the Pará public wins, which will be able to continue living with the award-winning works in each edition.

After completing the first ten years of the Award, possibilities arise that it will gain even greater penetration and prominence, not only in the Pará and Brazilian scene, but also internationally. These are new times that are approaching in this second decade that begins. That the three institutions involved have the wisdom to continue maintaining and expanding the scope of the Project, without neglecting the need to choose well, from now on, who can and deserves to continue offering it the due support.




[1] – In all its editions, the Diário Contemporâneo exhibition takes place in two institutions: the Casa das Onze Janelas Museum and the Art Museum of the Federal University of Pará. Exceptionally this year, one of the exhibitions of the Award takes place at the Museum of the State of Pará which, like the Casa das Onze Janelas, also belongs to the state of Pará.

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  1. Excellent text!
    Thank you very much! Without your column I would never have known about the Daily Prize Project.

    Congratulations to Belém do Pará and to the museums of the State of Pará (MEP) and the Federal University Art Museum (MUFPA), for the 10th edition of the Diário Prize Project.
    Long live art in Brazil!

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