Social Fabric: Art and Activism in Contemporary Brazil at Visual Arts Center at The University of Texas at Austin
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September 23, 2022–March 10, 2023
Ten artists’ works are collected in Social Fabric: Art and Activism in Contemporary Brazil to examine the lengthy histories of repressive power structures in the region that is now known as Brazil. These artists blur the distinction between art and activism by adding to national and international dialogues on nation-state aggression, racial injustice, and the state of democracy. They encourage us to think about how the agendas and policies of people in authority are represented aesthetically in public space and etched into official narratives by doing this. Their ideas offer reflections on the role of art as a forum for engaging critically with a location’s specific historical, political, and cultural configurations. Tecido Social (2010) by Rosana Paulino, from which the exhibition derives its name, offers a relevant framework for approaching these concepts while challenging us to envision a more equal future anew, thread by stitch.
The exhibition unfolds over five galleries in the Visual Arts Center and includes installation, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, and video. Aline Motta questions how memories are created, lost, and revived at the crossroads of time, and Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro and Sallisa Rosa investigate how collective efforts, particularly in the Black, LGBTQIA+, and Indigenous communities to which they belong, may lead to healing and justice. Both historical and modern imagery are subverted in Guerreiro do Divino Amor and Lais Myrrha, reminding us that Brazil’s colonial history and present are intertwined. Jaime Lauriano, Maré de Matos, and Rosana Paulino analyze the continuous legacies of dispossession and demonstrate how these histories are connected to Black and Brown genocide and land exploitation using both practical methods and emotive objects, such as maps, family portraits, and typography. Denilson Baniwa and Antonio Obá focus on additional Indigenous and Afro-descendant ways of knowing through the body, non-human things, and space while taking into account the tensions and collisions of many worldviews. These artists build spaces of dynamic and energetic community and self-construction, where experimentation and joy thrive, by refusing to remain neutral and bringing awareness to a variety of manifestations of gendered and racially violence.
Adele Nelson, assistant professor of art history at UT Austin, and MacKenzie Stevens, director of the Visual Arts Center, along with curatorial assistant Mara Emilia Fernández, are in charge of organizing Social Fabric: Art and Activism in Contemporary Brazil.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is a major sponsor of this exhibition. The Jedel Family Foundation and Mark and Shannon Hart are the principal sponsors. The Irvin-Loughlin Family Fund, the VAC Circle, and the Center for Latin American Visual Studies (CLAVIS) have also contributed.