Voices Against Racism
Projection with the image of Tereza de Benguela at the Church of the Rosary of Black Men in Penha, on the International Day of Black Latin American and Caribbean Women. Photo: Helio Menezes.

Between July 24th and August 24th, the Municipal Secretary of Culture of São Paulo (SMC), in partnership with the Municipal Secretary of Human Rights and Citizenship, and the Coordination for the Promotion of Racial Equality, launches the Voices Against Racism. The project curated by Amarilis Costa, Helio Menezes, Ligia Rocha and Thamires Cordeiro, and features a series of artistic interventions – from graffiti and lambes to projections and even a webinar – aimed at valuing the work of black and indigenous artists.

The project emerged from the concern of these four curators who introduced it to SMC. The Secretariat embraced the initiative and – in articulation with the other entities – it was giving substance to the idea. Vozes left the paper within a month of his election. “The fact that we are mostly working remotely has its limitations, but it also has its potential, and one of them is to speed up this time, the processes of conversation with the artists, the elaboration of the projects, the mapping of the places, the technical visits ”, says curator Helio Menezes.

At first, what would have been an exhibition spread across the city also gained the dimension of an online seminar, the Present Culture Dialogues, which can broaden the topics covered by the exhibition by bringing in intellectuals, artists, thinkers, activists. The series of debates takes place live, ending on July 31, for those who are unable to attend at the time, the conversations will be made available on the Youtube channel from SMC.


Voices Against Racism starts with a projection of Denilson Baniwa (cover of issue #50 da arte!brasileiros) which brings an unpublished work called Brazil Indigenous Land. The work will be carried out for a week (until July 30), at night, in the Monument to the Flags with the lights off, precisely to make room for the projection made by the Collective Collectors.

The video begins with a Portuguese caravel that is shipwrecked by the action of the winds, rain, fire, the sea and therefore never reaches the port. From this sinking, animals, plants, spiritual beings from the Baniwa cosmology emerge, painted in neon amid phrases such as “Brasil Terra Indígena” and “SP Terra Indígena”. “The artist is as if re-demarcating, reminding us that the place where that Brecheret monument is installed, the city of São Paulo and Brazil are indigenous lands. It greatly changes the landscape that we are used to, and invites us to reflect: what would it be if we imagined the city of São Paulo without that monument?”, Pondera Menezes.

Not only this one, but the other projections of the action are in charge of Coletores. the collective was formed in 2008 on the outskirts of the East Zone of the city of São Paulo by artists Toni William and Flávio Camargo. Its production is carried out “in transit”, passing through public spaces ranging from areas in communities, occupations, schools, universities, as well as institutional spaces focused on art and culture. His actions think about the city, the people and the relationships between art, cities, technology and the public. The collective's proposal is to work with the city as a medium and support for their actions, which is in line with what the curators of the Vozes they had in mind.

An unannounced intervention

“The formats we are working with, graffiti, videoprojection, videomapping and lambes, have a very public dimension, they take place outside the planned museum spaces, outside the specialized galleries, and with that they have a very great potential to reach new audiences” comments Menezes, adding to the Coletores decentralization proposal. The curator also points out thatThese formats allow such works to be seen with different looks and other postures. “Often it is the time of the passage, the time you are in the car, on public transport, a daily commute home, that you see the work of art and it maybe invites you to return to that street”, he adds.

The transitory and dispersed aspect of the exhibition was not by chance. To the team behind the Voices Against Racism a point of great importance was to make a show that did not generate crowds, an “unannounced intervention” that was careful not to invite people to be physically present in groups to see it. Menezes notes that these supports allow the works to be seen from a distance, in passing, and with this it becomes possible to take due care to put into practice an exhibition curatorial process in times of a pandemic.

to hear louder

Although Vozes aims to be a major cultural action to raise awareness and combat racism, this does not mean that the works presented must be explicitly political

“I think that art has several roles and can perform several functions, based on the paths and research that artists develop and materialize in their work, one of these possibilities is for a more deliberately politicized art that calls, that invites reflection, posture change. Although the artistic production of black and/or indigenous authorship does not necessarily always deal with more evidently political themes.”, explains Menezes

In the show, the debate is also created through the artistic work that uses a poetics focused on affection, focused on the normalization of black life represented outside the sphere of violence, hypersexualization or trauma and reenactments of slavery. “Fighting racism is also disputing another visual imagery of the representation of black bodies, offering another visual, historical and political repertoire about the lives of black people”.








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