Contra o estado das coisas – anos 70
Contra o estado das coisas – anos 70
During the 1970s, Lydia Okumura (1948), Genilson Soares (1940) and Francisco Iñarra (1947-2009) shared individual efforts in collective actions. Between 1970 and 1974, they worked under the name Equipe3 (Group 3), and later – when Okumura moved to New York –,Soares and Iñarra formed a partnership called Arte/Ação (Art/Action), and worked together until 1977.
In “Contra o estado das coisas – anos 70” one can find a small selection of the photographs and documentation produced by the three artists during the 1970s. To exhibit this material, which is historic and to a large extent has never been seen before, provides an opportunity to evaluate the political nuances over artistic production during the dictatorship. From alienation, passing through engagement, to militancy, what seems reoccurring to that generation is the readiness to provide answers against the obviousness of the established processes – be them artistic, social and political.
The documents presented go right from the Lanchonarte, project enrolled in the Salão de Verão of the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (1970) up to the last gathering of the three artists as Equipe3, in 1979, in the exhibition Three Brazilian Artists, at the Cranbrook Academy of ArtMuseum, in Michigan (USA). Estudio Actual Gallery (Caracas, 1975), SESC Dr. Vila Nova (1971), Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Campinas (1972), amongst others, were cultural spaces which received environmental/site-specific interventions of the Equipe3 andArte/Ação, but without any doubt, the place where the dialogue is greater and more profound is the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo (MAC-USP), perhaps, more precisely the Oscar Niemeyer building, in the Ibirapuera Park.
A relationship that began with the participation of the Equipe3 in the V Jovem Arte Contemporânea – JAC in 1971, resumed in 1972, with Incluir os Excluídos. At the 6th JAC – the historic JAC of the ‘allotted spaces’ – Equipe3 forfeited the individual exercise to interpret and present projects sent by other artists who were unable to be contemplated in the Museum’s allotment of spaces: Jannis Kounellis, Jacques Castex, Daniel Buren, Érika Steinberg, Sérvulo Esmeraldo and Arthur Luiz Piza.
The participation of Equipe3 in the JACs led to the invitation to take part in the 12th Bienal de São Paulo (1973), with the work Pontos de Vista (Points of View), a site-specific installation which proposed corrections to the perspective. In Pontos de Vista, the use of the photographic camera to record the process contributes to the establishment of a logic which asks the visitor for specific positioning in the site so that the playful dynamic can take place. The resulting images expand the understanding of the installation as they present the process and the performance carried out by the artists in the installation.
With Lydia Okumura’s move to NewYork (1974), Soares and Iñarra begin to develop Arte/Ação, which, in the same year, proposes Num Espaço Apertado (In a Tight Space) for the Bienal Nacional of 1974. Photography is once again present as the base for the hyper-realistic effect and also for the performatic unfolding of the artists with regards to the installation, in a continuous process of superposition of meanings for the work. The institutional critique is the generator of this action, in an ironic response to the inadequately designated space for the initial project that they presented.
Arte/Ação deepens its partnership with the MAC-USP, demonstrating a high level of intimacy with the institution in appropriative actions of artists from the collection, above all with works by Shihiro Shimotani, Giorgiode Chirico and Marino Marini. Inconceivable in 2014, Evento com a Pedra Event (Event with the Event Stone), Encontro da Pedra Event (Rendezvous with the Event Stone) and lastly, Presente de Natal (Christmas Present) and Ênfase à Escultura (Emphasis to theSculpture) compose a series of works connected amongst themselves which demonstrate both the institutional fragility and its opening to new forms of artistic action. Opening which is emblemized above all in the figure of the director Walter Zanini (1925-2013), when he established, or accepted, the dialogued audacity as proposed by Soares and Iñarra.
One of the high points of Arte/Ação is the process of constitution of Ways/Caminhos, the experience of the artists during the three months which preceded the Bienal inSão Paulo, in 1977. As well as intervening in the work of Japanese artist Kiyoshi Awasu (Obrigado, sr. Awasu, or Thank You, Mr Awasu,), Arte/Ação carries out an operation of displacement in and around the building by Niemeyer, solely documented in photographs. The subtle displacement of objects and waste material left in the empty building can be understood as commentaries –epigraphs or footnotes – reflective on modern architecture, and in the same manner, on the Bienal institution.
From this intense experience what remains are photographic records used as a base for new projects (Projeto para Bienal, or Project for the Bienal) or to create these narratives of processes presented in panels, such as in the opening of the Bienal in 1977. From the present perspective, what can be seen in these artists – Equipe3 and Arte/Ação – is a state of restlessness and readiness to occupy the available spaces during the hard – and still obscure – 1970s. They responded to the open calls and to invitations to exhibit in museums, or in the traditional salões, with counter proposals, which conjecture about institutions and market impositions. Responses which were also invitations for the spectators to participate in a game of discoveries and ironies, which also required the deconstruction of established perceptions. They collaborated, like all those involved in the JACs, in rethinking the role of the museum, at a time when the concept of a work itself was denied and the establishment is challenged.
These counterproposals, on the other hand, reach the limits of ambiguity: at the same time in which – in Equipe3 – they advance against the transformation of art into merchandise and propose their democratization – in its spiritual aspects – via consumption itself (1970), Soares and Iñarra do not fear the affirmation of confirming the documentation – that which remained what was left of the experience – as an object of the artistic market, valuable due to the information which it contains (1977).
Their intense activity was practically ignored in the 1980s, due to the motto of “the return to painting” imposed by a circuit whose values pointed to the de-politicization, and which now turned to a younger, active market, of producers and consumers, which overlooked productions of conceptual character.
The opportunity to re-evaluate the trajectory of Okumura, Soares and Iñarra also carries the possibility of locating the contradictions in the artistic circuit of the present days, and scrutinize the ambiguous notion of a document and its forms of exhibition.