Interview with Cristiana Tejo – “When you are open to the world and you hear other voices, the hegemonic narratives no longer stand alone.”

“Cristiana Tejo graces us with a generous talk on her wide experience in the field of curatorship in Brazil. Her panoramic point of view and sociological stance are a result of her work in different institutions, from academic research to her work in curatorial projects. As a co-founder of independent space Fonte, she ponders all the challenges involved in her efforts as a curator, artist and teacher. Her testimony showcases her critical approach towards the demands for productivity as well as sexism, and her goals of living of and for art.” –  Lilian Maus

ISABEL WAQUIL – At Panorama do Pensamento Emergente (Emerging Thinking Panorama) you seek to map the curatorship field, strengthening relationships and contributing to the creation of networks and partnerships. Last year was the second installment of this project – what have you learned so far about this field? What are the main challenges?

CRISTIANA TEJO – We didn’t have much when we started out. Internet was a new thing and people didn’t know one another. Being in Recife also weighed us down, geographically speaking. It’s very far away. I couldn’t find the people from my own generation and I really missed being able to exchange ideas with those who were also just getting started. I wanted to know where they fit in the scene, what were their motivations, their crisis. The idea came up in 2004, but the first Panorama happened four years later, in 2008. It took me a long time to get funding for it. At the time we really did not have a way to meet our peers. And I really mean peers, not artist and curator, curator and critic. We wanted to create a place that encouraged discussion amongst peers. Due to personal reasons, I couldn’t make the second installment happen two years after the first one like we intended to. It only happened 5 years later, which was very interesting contextually. Five years can be very interesting for a field that is so new. We can recognize the changes in curatorship, thinking, organizing. The interesting thing was that, with this time difference, everything became very clear. I invited two people that were on the first installment of Panorama – Luiza Duarte and Marisa Florido – and right away we noticed a big difference in how the curators that started working in the past five years organize themselves. They are very young, but have a lot of knowledge on curatorship history, a kind of “epistemology of curatorship.” We see that the curatorial thinking of young people that begin their careers in a more sharp and critical way is rather solidified, which is typical of a generation born into an environment of informational overload. My generation, on the other hand, was much more empirical, as well as much less prepared in terms of this intellectual approach to curatorship. We analyzed art and sought to structure an art system in Brazil that was outside of the Rio-São Paulo axis. It should be noted that professionalization now happens very quickly and there’s an interaction with the curator’s jargon. We also realized that throughout the last decade a kind of “curatorship language” has been established, that refers not only to the linguistic aspect but also to a comprehension of the history of curatorships, the history of exhibits. It’s a field that has been developing greatly with publications, seminars, grants and new job opportunities. There’s a difference between this empirical generation and a generation that already starts out with plenty of information.

Do you think the curatorial theses that make up this field of history of curatorship could be a new way to write art’s history?

Definitely. If you look at the history of exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) from the beginning of the twentieth century, you’ll see that they defined what Modern Art history would be, with their chronological and linear approach. It’s very interesting to observe that a narrative was already forming through the exhibits. Because art becomes palpable through exhibitions, that’s how the discourses and perceptions of art formalize themselves. What’s happening today, one hundred years later, represents a big change from that notion of narrative that’s in crisis. We don’t expect an absolute and definitive narrative. MOMA, with their exhibits, was creating a narrative that for a very long time was the only one accepted. Nowadays nobody is naïve enough to believe that a single narrative is enough to encompass an infinity of approaches. Apart from that, we also have the effects of globalization, different ways of thinking and making art. That represents a big confrontation for the Western World: recognizing these other forms of articulating meaning. These require the art world to only take baby steps in that arena. If you look at the pieces, they are absolutely open and its the curators who articulate a temporary understanding of those works. There’s no final, absolute interpretations. We could talk about the hermeneutics of art, and how the interpreting of art is as important as the making of art. The work is done once it reaches the other, the audience. Although there’s a crisis in terms of narrative, there’s no crisis when it comes to articulating meaning.

Why did you decide to connect you doctorate thesis, which is about the beginning of curatorship in Brazil, with sociology?

Well, first of all, I decided to stay in Recife despite the collapse of local institutions. That also means having to deal with the city’s contingencies. Since I wanted to get into a doctorate program, I went searching for where in this city I could establish a dialogue between my own interests in what the academia was offering. The Sociology Department at UFPE has a sub–department for Sociology of Art, and since my initial background was in media I was already familiar with some basic sociology. Studying curatorship could also have been done through a philosophical approach, or an art history approach, but sociology allows me to align all those different approaches and I was very interested in understanding the dynamics of curatorship in Brazil. My approach was already sociological even if I didn’t know that. I can’t see art as just art. I always saw art inserted in systems of power, relations, meanings and contexts. We are social beings, and that says a lot. We create meaning and we create it from a certain sociability. I’m halfway through the doctorate program and I already know it was the right choice, because I can also bring in more philosophical readings. My thesis also has a historiographical approach. It’s working out well, and I have found authors I never knew existed. I can articulate a more well-integrated perspective. That’s another things: I am an insider in the art world. I share in the beliefs, the values of this world, so through sociology I was able to understand the constitution of those values, observing my own world through an external perspective. It has been very interesting and very enriching. At the same time, I am very open to things; my doctorate is just one passage and then there will be other readings. This research will continue. The research doesn’t end when you present your thesis.

What did you learn about the international setting with the project Made in Mirrors?

Made in Mirrors is a project that started out from a wish to fight globalization, from a point of view more connected to local specificities, and also seeking long term and more intense connections with few projects being carried out at a time. Long term but also with long distances, and intense collisions between very different contexts. It’s a project that integrates South Holland, Southern China, Egypt (Cairo, specifically) and Brazil (especially Pernambuco).

Very specific regions.

Exactly. What was called “periphery.” It’s a very relative term, because sometimes we are the periphery and sometimes we are the center. It’s either periphery or center in relation to something else. The idea was to organize those places that are so singular and think about how those exchanges could happen. I got to know those places and their art scenes. Europe, in this sense, is very exotic. The Netherlands are very organized and controlled. Too much, actually. On the other hand, we understand there’s no such thing as the “universal.” There are only individual places. If you go to New York, you’ll see how small town it feels like over there. It’s actually a few entities and persons who are able to move around and establish more open dialogues with other places. In the end we are all locals. That’s very important because we were able to send artists from Recife for residences in China, the Netherlands, and Egypt; those exchanges have had very important repercussions to their work. That’s the most interesting point: how the local community benefited from this project. Personally, it reaffirmed what I already thought was the case: the world is too big for us to talk about the same three or four places. I’m much more interested in those things than seeing something in London that we already know about, for example. I’m from Recife but I was raised in Brasília, and then lived abroad for a while. Staying in Recife is a political attitude! I think it’s important to make things happen locally and bring visibility to interesting places that still don’t have a strong art economy. I am very drawn to places where things exist but are not seen, because life still exists despite the lack of visibility. Of course, I’m talking about a privileged stance, because I live in Recife but I’m always traveling. Actually, nowadays I work more outside of the city where I live. I know that’s not the case for most people. Many artists circulate, but what we are going through in Recife is a powerful and irresponsible lack of funding when it comes to public institutions. We don’t have an art market or a tradition of the elite funding cultural initiatives, so we are very reliant on the public system.

You said during a talk that you were disappointed with the situation of those institutions, how they are falling apart, and that’s why you distanced yourself from them. How’s their situation nowadays, from your point of view?

It got worse. For fifteen years we had a very interesting time in terms of experimentations and creations. We experienced institutional experimentalism. We were creating things and we were very close to the artists. In Recife we have this bubbling community, critical and emotional, with powerful collisions and we, curators, had many opportunities that I am sure a lot of people from the same generation living in other cities didn’t have. It’s very sad that it won’t happen as easily for the future generations and, especially, for the audience. There’s a big gap between what we create and what the audience sees. My lament is for those coming after me. My generation has a sense of gratitude, of giving back to a place that has helped us so much. In my case, since I had already done everything I could for the city’s cultural scene – everything I could do in Recife I did – and not being able to leave because of emotional reasons, I decided to create a place for residence with seven other women, Espaço Fonte. It’s a way of keeping a connection, a way to keep the city open to people from abroad. I’m a firm believer in exchange programs. People come and create a bond with the city, with the locals. Networks for cooperation are created. For me, creating a place for people to be together is a way to contribute to the local scene.

Espaço Fonte was created in 2011 and its subtitle is “Center for Investigations in Art.” What are those investigations?

Espaço Fonte is an open space. It changes according to its residents. We think of investigation as a wider concept – from someone who comes here with a project that will become an exhibition to someone who comes as a curator wanting to see the local scene – understanding, of course, that we have our own peculiarities. The investigation is open and we don’t have one final format – “The investigator must do this or that.” What we are trying to do is have an open dialogue. We‘ve had artists that held exhibitions here, artists that created a cinema club, artists that stayed for six months developing what would become a movie, curators that came here for a specific research, curators that came here to rethink their own ideas. It all depends. It’s also a way for us to position ourselves critically while facing a product oriented system, where everything must turn into something that can be consumed. We always have to react almost automatically to a frantic demand. I believe that investigation and art can happen at a different pace, because we need time to elaborate things. The artist won’t necessarily instantly turn into art what he is living at the time. It could take some time, it could take years. It’s about trusting the becoming, trusting whatever may happen. That’s why we are open to all formats. We trust the desire, the lust. In that sense, Espaço Fonte could also be a place to do nothing, it could just be a pause in the insanity, the pressure of daily life – both in contemporary life and in the art system that’s increasingly insatiable. It’s a place that is simply a pause to exist, to stay, to think.

Is it in that sense that it is “an art space with dynamics not necessarily connected to financial matters,” as you put it?

In the sense that we believe the economy of art is different from a traditional economy. It’s an investment that won’t give you anything back for a while. You have to trust the desire, the being, the lust to make and investigate instead of thinking about making money. Everything nowadays is based on financial gain. That’s also part of it, but we are all creating connected ecologies. You don’t always have to be part of an ecology of consuming excessively, investment, money – you can be somewhere where things work differently. We don’t deny money, everybody needs to eat and pay taxes. Still, Espaço Fonte is a place where we go back to the source, to what brought you to art, to what makes you want to stay in it. Of course money is important, it’s a capitalist system after all, but perhaps we can be a little utopic and think about something that can survive on a simpler economy. Nothing too big and ambitious. It’s something that’s being built little by little and creates a sustainability for the space. What we are interested in, our currency, is the symbolic bit, the exchange, that idea which may someday end up becoming valuable in terms of money. For now, we prefer not to think about that side.

Espaço Fonte is managed by six women, right?

Now there are eight of us!

And how’s the dialogue between everyone? Is it working well?

It is! Of course there’s dialogue and there’s a lot of clashing too. All human beings will argue when living in society. It’s a learning process for all of us. It’s me and seven of my ex-students at the BA program in Visual Arts at Barros Melo College. Because of that, we spent some time recreating our relationship to break away from what we used to be, teacher and students, and be able to become a community with a new dynamic. Almost all of them started studying art recently or did things related to art in a more therapeutical way, but only started studying it recently. Most of them are over 45 years old. What I see is that they managed to study what they wanted when they could. When they already had a career, when their kids had grown up, when life allowed them to study what they really wanted but couldn’t do when they were young. Meeting them made me reanalyze our art world, which is actually not a single world. That’s why I talk about the connected ecologies, which is a concept developed by a sociologist I have been researching called Andrew Abbott. It’s as if we were co–existing in worlds, dynamics and economies that are very diverse but that relate to one another through certain nodes in a long chain of action and reaction. They taught me that there are many ways of wanting to be around art. Before I met them, I was only involved with the professional art world. I was surrounded by young artists that were already a part of the art world and I thought that was the only valid way to insert yourself into this world. There’s obviously a screening process in the path towards professionalization, and that occurs in every field. If we compared it to soccer you might say that until then I was working with the national team and then started working with the base of the pyramid as well. When you work with the national team, all you see is the top of the pyramid, leaving behind a lot people that don’t necessarily have any less value or talent just because they are not at the top. All that just to say that our group is changing certain expectations because everyone comes from a different background. One is an engineer, another is a housewife, another is a journalist. They all bring something in and we use what everyone adds to the space. Of course, it is challenging.

How do you see the participation of women in the curatorial field, not only in terms of quantity, but quality as well?

I have no doubts the art world today has a lot of women in lead roles. For the second installment of Pensamento Emergente, for example, we invited ten people, and out of those ten, eight were women. Although it’s just a small sampling, it shows how things are going. There is indeed a large feminine presence. There are, however, many things to consider. Particularly the issue of being a mother or being a woman without children. During my last trip to Europe in February 2014, I talked to a couple of friends who are only now having their first kids, in their forties – one in Mexico and the other in Switzerland. We talked about their fears of their careers ending or losing opportunities. During those talks it was very clear that there are obstacles when trying to get a place at a Biennial or an institution, and those obstacles are not placed there only by men but also by women without children. There’s another dimension to it – none of our colleagues at Pensamento Emergente have any kids. There’s a difference between being a young woman with no kids and being a woman who has children. There’s a separation there. If we look at the past generations, we realize that was normal. Aracy Amaral and Lisette Lagnado, for example, had children. Nowadays, however, with an increasingly globalized art world, you have to travel all the time, you’re constantly moving around.

And you also have to do many things at once.

Exactly. I think about Aracy Amaral having kids in the 1950’s, 1960’s. She traveled across Latin America, but I am sure not as much as people do nowadays. The world was not as connected. Today, you have to cross the Atlantic five or six times a year, at the very least. That creates a big gap between those who have kids and those who don’t. Of course, that’s also a matter of reanalyzing what it is to be a woman. A woman who replicates a masculine logic or way of working is a woman? Of course there’s no such thing as a feminine essence. Historically speaking, work has been a predominantly masculine activity for centuries. Back to my conversation with those two friends, we were talking about their fear of missing out on work opportunities because of their children, and one of them said she been on many different committees to choose curators for museums or Biennials where she would often hear things like “Oh, but she has a child. She can’t do this.” That means: she’s out! Can’t handle it. Now she’s on the other side of the story and she’s afraid, because she knows how those decisions are made. This is something that weighs a lot. Coming up with a feminine way of handling work is not about a “feminine essence,” but about finding a different way to go about things, combining, dividing time in a smarter way. Thinking in terms of quality instead of quantity. What would it be like to think about the curatorship world in a different sense? Could it be more organic? More generous? Could that work out in our extremely competitive world, to have people working in a more gregarious manner? Of course I’m talking about a Latin American country, where the expectations are very different for men and women. In Brazil, if a man helps a woman at home, everyone thinks he’s amazing! Caring for children is still a feminine activity, so if the man tries to help, that’s “incredible.”

It’s “extraordinary.”

Exactly, it’s extraordinary. Nearly every aspect of domestic life is delegated to women. In other countries you might find more gender equality, but in Latin America there’s still a big gap there. Sometimes we are judged by our own friends or our fellow curators. I heard that after I had my kid, in two different situations people said “Oh no, Cris had a kid,” as in “Don’t invite her.” Ever since that happened to me, I always ask all of my co-workers who are mothers “Can you do this, do you want to?” And she will be the one to determine if she can do it or not. It’s not up to me to decide if she can handle something or not. I was raised in a very feminist way. My mother always taught me to take care of myself, have my own money, my own job, to not rely on anyone. That’s very important. It erases some of the inequality, even though there’s still a lot of it. Of course, we are talking about privileged people, from classes that are more comfortable financially. I came back from this trip very saddened to realize that there is indeed a lot of gender inequality in the art world. Everywhere! Having your kid with you while setting up and exhibition is often seen as something “unprofessional,” for example.

Francisca Caporalli, from JA.CA, mentioned something along the lines of what you just said about having her kid in New York, where, unlike here in Brazil, people seem to understand that your life is not over because you had a kid, so it’s normal to take your children to a meeting, for example.

Here that’s “unprofessional,” it’s weird. If men and women are raised in an open and multifunctional manner, we could face that. A lot changes when you have a kid, but that doesn’t mean you can’t handle things! You know what happens? A lot of the times priorities just change. For example, I became more picky! To get me out of the house, it has to be for something really nice, because my house is great, it’s full of affection. I didn’t recognize myself after I had my kid, because before I would go out, work a lot, traveled, I was a workaholic. But when I saw my son, I thought: “This is much more interesting and challenging than any exhibition I could ever put together in my life.” Your parameters, your priorities change. You end up much more picky when it comes to art. It has to be exciting, it has to be good, it has to have quality in terms of relations. That was always important for me. When I started working as a curator, I thought about my staff a lot – was everyone doing well, working together, were they on the same page as me. I always saw myself as part of a community. Now that I travel more, I am surprised by how competitive things are. Here in Recife I was part of a welcoming community, despite our disagreements, so it was a big shock.

It was almost a family environment.

Exactly. We didn’t have an art market, a well-established system, so we were all on the same boat trying to build this market. Everyone here was starting to really understand what contemporary art is, what curatorship is and so on. I didn’t see myself as an individual professional growing in my profession, but instead as someone who was feeding these exchanges as well as feeding off of them. I noticed that this more gregarious approach is more common amongst women. I think this caring aspect is more present in women than in men, who seem a little more individualistic. But I don’t think that’s innate or a matter of genetics, I think it’s nurturing. It’s because of how we’re raised. Women are raised learning how to care for things, for people. As a child you already have a baby doll to take care of. Taking care of others is part of our role in this society. The same does not happen to men and the result is that professionally men are more individualistic while women are more collectivist. It’s something I’ve been noticing, and it only became clear to me after I got involved with sociology. Before I used to think it was all the same, there was no distinction. Then I started to read more about current feminism and southern epistemologies, and I realized it’s the same thing as saying that there’s no racism in Brazil, that we are egalitarian. The thing is, this selection happens so far back that we don’t think there’s gender inequality. That has to do with a lack of opportunities way back: when I look at my co–workers at Fonte, I see people that doubted they could do anything in the art world a long time ago. They were tutored or brought to different professional fields to make ends meet. That’s still very common, so I can’t say there’s equality when there isn’t! I think things are changing, of course. Those girls at the second installment of Pensamento Emergente, for example, who are about thirty years old, one day might have children, and when they do, I hope the art world will be already effectively open for them.

It seems to be a matter of feeling like you are in an egalitarian country but then observing all the inequality. Sometimes women themselves replicate this logic that they must choose between children or a career.

Yes, we can be compliant. Of course having children has an impact, but on the other hand, the question is: is it really worth it to give up on that? My friend from Switzerland said she was already forty-six years old and that was her last chance to have a child, so she thought “What else could I have? More power? More money? More exhibitions?” She already had all that, or knew how to do all that. Then she thought “What I don’t know how to do is raise a human being.” That’s the spirit. Each woman finds her own way of weaving the fabric of her personal and professional lives. It’s a monumental challenge, to be honest. But I know a lot of amazing women who have a family and are still traveling around the world, working and curating wonderful exhibitions. I think such examples need more visibility so they can foster a feeling that it is, indeed, possible to do this. It’s not the end of the world or of your career. Perhaps it’s necessary to question how far we want to go and what it is to be professional. What is having a career? Is it worth it nowadays? This questioning starts to happen as you get older, because you stop accepting everything and you start questioning if that is quality, if that is what you want. You become more selective. At first, it’s all about quantity, how many exhibitions you’ve done, how many people you know. That’s normal when you’re young. As time goes by, you get tired of that and you start selecting what really matters to you. What’s the meaning of things for you?

Do you find it easier to conciliate being a mother and being a freelance professional, as it allows you more freedom, or is it actually more complicated, when you take into account the lack of stability?

I’ve had a partner for seventeen years. My occasional financial instability is secured by my partner’s stability, and we share everything. I enjoy being a freelancer a lot more than working for an institution, at least compared to my work in institutions over the past few years. First of all, it allows for  quality in terms of interpretation and reflection, as I have a lot more time to organize my things, to read and write, and that used to be very complicated because I had to squeeze it all into the time I had off work. This change happened together with me starting the doctoral program, forcing me to make more time to study. When you have a child, you become a much more practical person. Before being a mother, I had all the time just for myself. My partner and I often accidently say “Oh, when we were single.” We weren’t single, we were already married, we just didn’t have a child. Time was flexible and never ending. We would decide on something and do it. Having a child, it can’t be like that anymore. You have to be organized and efficient. Now my son is almost six years old and he’s self-sufficient! I just have to check his homework and when he showers, but for everything else he’s independent. I would like to have another child and I often think about what would be the right time for that. As now I have this quality time when I can sit down and read, I think I’d like to wait a bit longer to be a mother again, perhaps when I’m forty, after I’m done with the doctoral program. I will take him everywhere like I did with my first child: Biennials, openings, setting up the exhibitions. For two years, I took my kid with me everywhere. It’s also good because you teach the child to travel, to understand that you have to do to work. The baby doesn’t know anything and you have to show them how the family works. My son has grown and now he loves to travel. He’s behaves very well on the plane and with other languages, in other cultures. First time he went abroad was when he was ten months old and we went to Cuba. Now, because of school, he can’t travel as much, but whenever I could take him with me, I did. It will be the same with the next.

Back to the issue of women and curatorship in 2012, Itaú Cultural updated their poll that listed the ten most influential curators in the country, and it contained only three women. The poll listed, in the following order: Fernando Cocchiarale, Tadeu Chiarelli, Paulo Herkenhoff, Agnaldo Farias, Ricardo Resende, Ligia Canongia, Luiz Camillo Osorio, Maria Alice Milliet, Carlos von Shmidt, Danise Mattar, Diógenes Moura, Emanoel Araújo, Moacir dos Anjos, Lauro Cavalcanti. Of course the notion of “influential” is very relative, but how do you interpret this statistics?

First of all, the poll was based on the amount of exhibitions curated by each curator. When the results came out, I was with Fernando Cocchiarale and we laughed and talked about it. Perhaps this takes us back to the issue of quantity and quality. Single men with no children, or men with children but with a partner that takes care of everything, are much more able to do more. Obviously it’s not just that, but there’s something about quantity, about wanting to do a lot, wanting to be productive. Maybe that’s connected to a masculine issue with power, but on the other side, if you look at that generation (the one before mine) there was a lot more men than women working. Over the past few years, that’s started to change. At Pensamento Emergente it was the opposite, eight women and two men. With this poll from 2006, those are the people that worked the most in the past ten years, so the newer generation won’t be on the list because we only started out recently. I also think a lot about people like Lisette Lagnado. How many exhibitions does she curate in a year, one? But they are huge! The same with Aracy Amaral. How many a year, two? How long does it take to get together an exhibition like the ones she works on? We also need to look into the people heading the institutions, because then you have to curate exhibitions like a machine!

The issue of productivity in art.

It’s the product. You have to have exhibitions. We need to look carefully into those polls, because that’s the kind of statistics that simply everything. I think it’s important to look at the focus of the poll, what they analyzed and what they didn’t analyze. When we look at what they weren’t analyzing, we understand the poll better. I believe things are changing and if we do the same poll in ten years, the names will be different and we’ll have more women. Personally, after working in an institution, I got tired of being an  “exhibition machine.” I am no longer interested in that format. I feel content with working on one or two exhibitions a year and doing a lot of research, having a lot of dialogue, making a lot of exchanges. I prefer that instead of just churning out exhibitions. I’m not comfortable with that model anymore.

It’s a field ruled by other production and time relations. It’s hard to function following that logic that’s different from art’s logic, with such limited time and a high productivity demand.

The thing is understanding who you are, your rhythm, your flow. Fernando Cocchiarale is someone I admire greatly – he has a sense of humor, a sharp intelligence. He’s very natural when working on exhibitions because he has things he’s been working on for a long time. For how long has he been working with art? It’s very different. People need to understand their own nature. I makes me very happy to see people expressing themselves in a more meaningful way, through what really touches them. I think it’s beautiful! You can curate fifty exhibitions because you have so much to say and to get out there in the world, or you can curate one exhibition every two years, or you can work with Biennials only. What I find beautiful is seeing someone fully committed to something. I find it very interesting when people break the rules and take charge of things instead of simply reproducing a certain logic, creating their own logic. I have been doing that for a few years, creating my own dynamics. I was basically sucked into curating and I had no time to think. I was just doing, doing, doing. It was a time of learning and testing what interested me, but today working with what really interests me is very important.

We see many attempts to reflect upon the issue of women in the art world, with many initiatives having been taken already. How do you think it is possible to deal with a curatorship, for example, about women’s issues, without ending up being discriminatory  and sexist in a way?

That’s a very complex issue, because we have to draw attention to this segregating dynamic without mimicking it. That’s the main point. What interests me is observing how we can deconstruct interpretations that favor men exclusively, with art as a starting point. You then realize it’s easier to find ruptures in the careers of women rather than men. A quiet period and then a return. When I see that process happen to women, I’m also interested in looking at men from that point of view. I’m interested in changing the criteria used to evaluate things. More than just curating an exhibition with female artists, we need to understand the mechanisms that make it so that most women are not able to be a part of the international art scene. That applies to other groups – Latin Americans, Japanese, Africans. We don’t fit the criteria created by the white, male and Western world. The artwork of the periphery, of the menial workers, became less important because it did not fit certain ideas of quality and excellence. What we need is to discuss those parameters. We need to look at what’s being introduced as hegemonic and suspect that it might not be universal. It is local and favored according to the power networks of the time. “Suspecting” doesn’t mean that, for example, Matisse was not a good artist. It means we need to rebuild those ecologies and observe where things stand. Latin American art won’t be a mere version of European Art, as it is being seen as something of its own kind. Nowadays, I’m more interested in discussing what those epistemologies would be than simply mimicking an excluding logic. When we talk about “Latin American art,” there’s obviously a certain specificity, but the important thing is to create a pluralistic art world and not just discourse, a place where you won’t need labels. I still don’t know how exactly that would happen, and the world of referential art is still a very selective world. Perhaps with the new generations we can create those new art worlds. I’ve already started to see people interested in visiting not only New York but also places like Hong Kong for example, to experience different ways of thinking and doing things. Maybe we are in the right path towards change – I feel like we are. Right now it might not be so obvious. That’s what the crisis of narrative is, like we talked about before. When you are open to the world and you hear other voices, the hegemonic narratives no longer stand alone.


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