Fabio Cypriano, Solange Farkas, Eduardo de Jesus
Solange Farkas, Eduardo de Jesus, Fabio Cypriano
Fabio Cypriano, Solange Farkas
In discussion, the Videobrasil Collection’s formation and activation
Since 1983, when the first Videobrasil Festival was held, a one-of-a-kind collection has been in the making. Its importance can be measured not only by the significant number of items it contains – roughly 1,300 videos, video installations and recorded performances –, but also by the fact that it features the most prominent artists ever to work with these media in Brazil and the global South, from whence Associação Cultural Videobrasil selects the participants in the Festival’s competitive exhibitions. Furthermore, the collection is one of the most relevant registers of the history of video as an artistic expression, since its beginnings, when it struggled to define its own identity, until our days, when it is recognized as a language to be reckoned with in contemporary art.
The formation, preservation and activation of this collection were the topic of a conversation between Videobrasil’s founder and director Solange Farkas, journalist Fabio Cypriano and researcher Eduardo de Jesus, on October 21, 2014, at 8pm, in the second Public Programs meeting of the exhibition Unerasable Memories – a historic look at the videobrasil collection. The subject is also addressed in Unerasable Memories, a publication launched during the meeting and comprising essays from 18 researchers and curators about the artworks featured in the exhibition showing at Sesc Pompeia’s Galpão until November 30.
To Farkas, this first exhibition to feature Videobrasil Collection artworks exclusively and the publication discussing the exhibition in depth are two examples of Associação Cultural Videobrasil’s strategies to activate its collection. As the director put it, “in addition to safeguarding the collection, Associação’s mission involves spreading the word about the work of these artists from the global South and broadening access to contemporary art. To this end, both the exhibition, with curating from Agustín Pérez Rubio, and the book, featuring essays by guest writers, reframe, update and add new values to the collection’s artworks, enabling various interpretations and reviewing the artists’ propositions in depth.”
Eduardo de Jesus, a professor at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) in Minas Gerais, remarks that the Unerasable Memories show marks the first time Videobrasil looks at its own collection and proposes new connections, an initiative that will possibly become more frequent in the organization’s actions. “The curator Agustín Pérez Rubio’s selection is razor sharp. This exhibition acts as a ‘fold.’ The featured artworks focus on memory, but are also allusive to the collection itself, revisiting pieces created over the last thirty years and providing a sample of the Festival’s three decades,” says de Jesus.
For his part, Fabio Cypriano, the meeting’s mediator, emphasized the exhibition and the collection’s strong political slant and the respect shown by Videobrasil towards the artists it invites to become part of the collection. Videobrasil’s director remarked that "the political perspective has always been there," and in the beginning, the medium itself characterized it – in the 1980s, video was a new, defiant vehicle. "I believe there is a political DNA that harks back to the genesis of video – it comments on the here and the now,” says Farkas, stressing that roughly 98% of the artists shortlisted for the Festival agree to donate their works to Associação, both because this guarantees the preservation of their art – a very delicate issue considering the progress of technology and the changing media – and because of Videobrasil’s continuous efforts to make said works public.
Associação Cultural Videobrasil is constantly inviting researchers, critics and curators to work on its collection. To this end, it has created online tools such as PLATFORM: VB, a collaborative environment for research on the collection’s artworks, and FF>>Dossier, a series of online curated programs composed of 52 publications about artists featured in Videobrasil’s collection.
Between 1983 and 1990, the Videobrasil Festival took place at the Museum of Image and Sound (MIS), sponsored by Fotoptica. As of the 9th Festival, in 1992, the event went international and started being held at various Sesc units, in partnership with Sesc São Paulo. The collection features artworks dating from those early festivals until current ones, with the artists’ endorsement (98% of them have donated their works to the collection). Last year, the Festival had its 18th edition, celebrating 30th anniversary with a major effort in artwork digitalization, retrieval and acquisition. Out of the artworks shown at the MIS that were VHS copies, about 80% were recovered directly from artists.
Even though it incorporates international video art classics, the biggest strength of this collection resides in the fact that it brings together the memory of audiovisual production from the global South, the area targeted by the Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil’s Southern Panoramas exhibition, comprising countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South and Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Due to the recurrent participation of some artists in the Festival, the Collection includes small collections by artists such as Lebanon’s Akram Zaatari. The collection also contains numerous pieces by the likes of Lenora de Barros, Cao Guimarães, Carlos Nader, Kiko Goiffman, Lucas Bambozzi, Shawn Gladwell, Gregg Smith, Bouchra Khalili, Gillermo Cifuentes and Fernando Meirelles.
Recently, a few historical international video art pieces have been acquired from artists such as Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, Gary Hill, Vito Acconci, Bill Viola, Dan Graham, Joan Jonas, John Baldessari and Paul McCarthy. Despite being featured in the Festival, these items were not a part of the Collection yet. Videobrasil’s collection is also composed of donations, such as the works of Rafael França (1957-1991) and Marina Abs (1962-2002).
Book Unerasable Memories – a historic look at the videobrasil collection
Coedited by Associação Cultural Videobrasil and Edições Sesc São Paulo, the book was organized by Agustín Pérez Rubio, the curator of Unerasable memories – a historic look at the videobrasil collection and currently the art director of Museu de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba). Rubio invited authors (art critics, anthropologists, linguists and researchers on cinema and semiotics) from nine countries to write essays about the exhibition and the artworks of 18 artists from different nationalities that address historical conflict episodes. Featuring editorial coordination from Teté Martinho and graphic design by Celso Longo + Daniel Trench, the book compiles images of the artworks on display and of the Sesc Pompeia venue, featuring contents in Portuguese in English.
Following the launch, the publication will be available for sale at Sesc São Paulo units (capital and countryside), at major bookstores and online at www.sescsp.org.br/livraria
Unerasable memories: a historic look at the Videobrasil Collection
Organized by Agustín Pérez Rubio
Associação Cultural Videobrasil; Social Service of Trade in São Paulo
São Paulo : Edições Sesc São Paulo : Videobrasil, 2014
320 pages, bilingual (Portuguese/English)