Unerasable Memories > Curatorship

Currently the director of MALBA (Latin American Art Museum in Buenos Aires), Spain’s Agustín Pérez Rubio, formerly the director of MUSAC (Contemporary Art Museum of Castilla y León), in his native country, is the guest curator for the exhibition Unerasable Memories – a historic look at the videobrasil collection. Known for his research into various collections, Pérez Rubio, also a historian, has delved into Associação Cultural Videobrasil’s collection of 1,300-plus videos, selecting artworks that highlight historical and political facts often interpreted from the official, dominating, colonizing perspective, through the sensitive gazes of artists from Brazil and the world over.

"The construction of our memory is selective and therefore cultural. Thus being, memory is like a vast collection of memories of events of inestimable value — individual or collective — that have occurred over the course of history. The wealthiest one is not he who has more memories, but he who can treasure them, make them alive, and live them infinitely.

The same idea applies to a collection. It consists not only of the device that brings together, maintains, and exhibits artifacts or objects; it consists also of the experiences that they refer to. The more an art collection can place us in touch with the unique experiences lived and felt by the artists or cause us to recall other possible worlds, the more relevant it will be.

The Videobrasil Collection is rooted in a moment when video was first and foremost a political tool, and retained this character as the Festival ceased to speak of one South to speak of many, broadening our views of the political realities of Latin America, Africa, Australia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, China, Southeast Asia. This project strongly considers that origin. This is why history, memory, and recollection are so important here; they are a big part of the experience I have lived through for over a year and a half, while sailing the waters of the collection under a political and social perspective.

As I outlined the idea that is the backbone to this exhibition, sets of opposing mirrors came to mind: one fact projects onto another, and the other, in turn, projects back the contents of the image it contains. The Videobrasil Collection projects, onto the exhibition and its artwork, issues of historical interest, shedding light on actual events and the fictions based upon them. Projecting here has to do with reproducing, bringing to light, retrieving from obscurity and oblivion.

Unerasable Memories sets out to evidence the compromises that derive from postcolonial studies in contemporary creation. Its initial inquiry concerns the conflicts, in Brazil and elsewhere, that arise from the notion of “conquest” as an action whereby man imposes himself with violence to dominate, rule, and enslave others. The metaphor applies to the globalized world of the 20th and early 21st centuries, in the erasing of indigenous cultures, slavery, racism, forced migration flows; and it applies to the micro-histories of how these issues affect the lives of those who experience them.

Eleven works comprise the exhibition’s core, ordered chronologically according to the events they refer to and complemented by recordings, actions, and documentaries that echo the facts they address. The artworks interrelate in their themes, chronologies, and territories. What these artists and artworks intend to do is keep alive the memory of facts which the winning narrator, he who writes history, wants us to believe no longer belong to us.

One cannot go forth in an amnesiac, aseptic world. The important thing here is to reflect about how we read history, how we keep it and evoke it in order to learn from it. We must discuss historical memory and the various ways to create it, so that we will not continue to open the newspaper and remain unmoved in the face of facts that have also happened to us and to our ancestors. So that we may forge ahead without erasing what has passed."

Agustín Pérez Rubio