Rafael França

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Porto Alegre, Brazil, 1957

Chicago, USA, 1991


Rafael França’s work is recognized as one of the most coherent and systematic works among Brazilian artists who work with moving images. Leaving aside the use of video as a simple recording device, his work continued (and took even further) the experiments carried out by the video art pioneers of the 1960s. The narrative of his videos, elliptical and discontinuous, explored elements such as the absence of sync between sound and image, alternation between fast and slow cuts and images that are purposely blurry and out of focus. By making his friends, as well as himself, characters in his videos, Rafael França also expanded the limits of a fictional/documental narrative.


After studying drawing, painting and lithography as a teenager, Rafael moved to São Paulo in the late 1970s to study at the School of Communications and Arts at the University of São Paulo, where, encouraged by artist and teacher Regina Silveira, he developed an intense research on engraving. By 1979, he began to explore xerography and, together with Hudinilson Jr and Mário Ramiro, he formed the group 3Nós3, focused on urban interventions. Due to his interest in art and technology, and influenced by artists such as Nam June Paik and Buky Schwartz, Rafael began to work with video installations. In 1982, the artist enrolled in a master’s program at the Chicago Art Institute (USA), where he dedicated his research entirely to video and began the series of works that would become his main legacy. A continuous and radical research that questions and explores the technical and conceptual elements that constitute video making.


His work was abruptly interrupted in 1991, when he died due to AIDS complications. Today, his work belongs to collection such as Reina Sofia Museum (Madrid, Spain), Museum of Contemporary Art-USP (São Paulo), Museum of Modern Art (São Paulo), and Associação Videobrasil (São Paulo). His work was recently presented in important retrospective exhibitions such as: United by AIDS (Migros Museum, Zürich, 2019), Histories of Sexuality (MASP São Paulo, 2018), ExpoProjeção (SESC Pinheiros, São Paulo, 2014) and Speaking Out (MoMA New York, 1992).

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