• Doméstica (2012) by Gabriel Mascaro
    Doméstica (2012) by Gabriel Mascaro

When the Southern Cross speaks — curatorial statement

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posted on 10/18/2015
At the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA), video programs curated by Solange Farkas and Diego Matos reinstate art from the perspective of the artist’s place of speech

When the Southern Cross speaks
Solange Farkas and Diego Matos 
(Videobrasil’s director; Videobrasil's archive, research and collection coordinator)
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"I would indeed like to discuss a region that is not on official maps and which is called, for instance, Southern Cross. Its early residents never did divide it. But then others came and split it up with a purpose. The division remains until this day” (Meireles, Cildo. 1969). This is how Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles, back in the long-gone year of 1969, manifested the need to shed light on marginalized places that were invisible to Occidentalism, rendering the notion of place complex, and fabulating the possibility of regaining a material and immaterial wealth that had been swept asunder for centuries. It was in fact about the primordial issue of origin, i.e., ultimately, the building of another perspective and place of speech – in this case, the place of the native. The exceptions, however, are many, and they destitute a given tradition. History as science proposes us a method of inquiry that legitimates tradition.

Southern Cross is a Southern Celestial Hemisphere constellation seen only from these parts, and non-existent to European culture. While it became recognized by the field of cosmology as modern science was under construction, for indigenous cosmogonies it was a fundamental resource for existence, the origin of things, and localization, way before the ships arrived in the unknown lands of America.

Not randomly, the text, nearly a manifesto, was chosen by the artist to represent him in MoMA’s catalog for the now-historic Information exhibition (1970). At times poetic, at others manifesto-like, the text is part of the poetical and political repertoire of Meireles, who would soon produce Instalação Cruzeiro do Sul (the Southern Cross Installation, 1969). This piece is indirectly connected with the text. Curiously, it wasn’t until afterwards, in the mid-1970, that experimental video began to emerge in the Brazilian art scene, and eventually rose to prominence for its portability, reproducibility, and accessibility.

Thus, at the onset of a new decade – the 1980s, and with it the demise of a military regime of exception – we witnessed the flourishing of a second generation of video makers who set their crosshairs on television culture and mass media. A bevy of materials, languages and modes of operation and experimentation set the stage for a Festival with the characteristics of Videobrasil’s. If, at first, the interest lay in local productions, as the years passed, the stance adopted was one of collaborating to build an international network that strove to make known other speeches, from distant cultural realities; all of them fed into by the relentlessness of their memories and experiences.

In fringe situations or even in alternatives to the mass culture norm, other narratives and life stories that don’t conform to social order receive special attention in contemporary art practices. Using devices from the various fields of knowledge, the figure of the artist, a public intellectual, finds diverse characters and social behaviors that are invisible to history. Through recourse to the power of memory as an individual or collective entity, other histories are retrieved that move from the private to the public. Associação Cultural Videobrasil thus reinstates art from the perspective of the artist’s place of speech – another reporter of facts free from the premises of fiction and document. Two essentially interchangeable video programs are thus defined.

Program 01 Intimacy is the fact (69'59'')
The spotlight is on emotional, intimate narratives, imparting importance to extra-official issues, to dissents unbound by economic and/or sociocultural interpretations that seek to objectivize reality. The program features at least two works by Brazilian artists, integrated with the remaining contexts (the Arab World, Africa and Latin America) that share local conditions which depart from Western norm. Such narratives strive to settle issues that have been concealed by the methods of history.

Les Feuilles d'un temps (2010), by Baraky Diallo
Crazy of You (1997), by Akram Zaatari
The Apocalyptic Man (2002), by Sebastian Diaz Morales
A Pessoa é para o que nasce (1998), by Roberto Berliner
Sergio e Simone (2010), by Virginia de Medeiros

Program 02 – The exception is the rule (64'09'')
In this second program, narrative construction takes place from a different prism, which complements the former one. Image is captured from a distinct gaze, whose sensibility is expressed through the social experiences of the artist or those he interacts with. Documental language is deconstructed, and new narrative modes are proposed for the cinematic and journalistic languages. Like in the selection above, moments from Brazilian experimental documentary filmmaking take charge towards the end of the program, in a complementary projection.

Bosphorus: A Trilogy (2012), by Bita Razavi
H2 (2010), by Nurit Sharrett
Brisas (2008), by Enrique Ramirez
O Espírito da TV (1990), by Vincent Carelli
Cows (2002), by Gabriela Golder

Complementary projection
There will be a complementary but no less important showing of the documentary feature film Doméstica (Maids, 2012) – a no-holds-barred portrayal of Brazilian intimate and family life, the engine to our society, though always swept under the rug.