Members of the Frente 3 de Fevereiro collective, who opened the 15th Videobrasil with their Futebol performance, convened at the Artist Meeting to discuss the piece with the audience. During the conversation, the artists listed racist episodes that took place in São Paulo, like the Argentinean footballer Leandro Desábato’s insults to Grafite, a player from São Paulo Futebol Clube, and the unjustified murder of a young black man by police on February 3 – the date that gave the group its name. These events were addressed in Futebol, illustrating the heritage of slavery revealed by everyday behavior in Brazilian society. The collective creates using multiple strategies, political and aesthetical actions designed to arouse reflection, and an active stance towards injustice situations. The group chose the theme ‘football’ for the performance because it is a field where the ideal of racial democracy becomes blatant. The group set out to debunk this myth using the case of football player Grafite. Racism, football, music, music video, denunciation, controversy, and collage are some of the characteristics of the work by this collective, formed by artists from various fields.
The Reflection Zone bolsters the Festival’s programme with a set of actions designed to broaden and bring greater density to the discussions on contemporary art generated by the event. In this edition of the Festival, the Zone spreads out in more than one direction, unfolding not only in debates, but also in actions and processes of an even more practical nature. These include a performance workshop that brings together artists and university students, a new publication devoted to reflection on themes pertinent to the Festival, a laboratory to introduce video-makers to the processes for updating and publishing content on the recently-launched Videobrasil On-Line database, and the VJ Nights, live-image sessions whose departure point is the interaction fostered by the Festival between artists from diverse nationalities, cultures, attitudes and aesthetics.
The workshops, laboratories, debates and creation processes that comprise this axis stretch over the three weeks of the Festival, interweaving, punctuating and commenting on the exhibitions and performances. As a counterweight to the ephemerality inherent to the Festival’s condition as an event, the objective of these forums is to engage artists, curators, thinkers and researchers in actions that produce not only meaning, but also concrete residual content, whether in the form of new works, or simply through lessons learned. By enabling and proposing the means by which members of its community can exchange experiences, the Zone lays the foundations for the production of real results capable of conferring longevity upon the development of ideas that the Festival affords.
The reflections woven from the perspective of the countries from the southern circuit of the geopolitical globe are central to the activities of the Reflection Zone. This year, these reflections find expression, above all, in the choice of performance as a theme. It is no accident that the Festival opted for a language of expression founded upon the act and upon the understanding of art as an exercise that is, first and foremost, political. Questions raised by the practice of this genre, such as the presence of risk in the protected field of art, the relations between art and politics and the modes in which performance is incorporated within the exhibition circuit are some of the themes to be examined by Brazilian and foreign artists, gallery managers, curators, critics and intellectuals at the Festival’s six round table discussions.
Performance is also at the heart of the essays in “Caderno Videobrasil”. In a country where the debate on art is frequently restricted to the occasional news item in the press and sporadic publications from academia, museums and galleries, the priority of the annual Associação Cultural Videobrasil magazine is to disseminate specialized theoretical research and recent artistic production. The maiden issue proposes an alternative to the official history of performance, covering a time span that stretches from Brazilian modernism up to projects representative of current art from Latin America and the Middle East. The magazine features critical essays by art critics Guy Brett and Luiz Camillo Osório, Lebanese curator Rasha Salti, artist Ricardo Basbaum and psychoanalyst Suely Rolnik, the script from an audiovisual performance by Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña and an exclusive interview with Marina Abramovic.
Conversely, the practical aspect of performance engages graduate students in the visual arts, digital mediums, dance and the corporal arts selected for the performance workshop held at the Festival. The activity is coordinated by Marcos Hill, from the Fine Arts School of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, and by artist Marco Paulo Rolla, who will also be presenting at the Festival. They are two of the country’s most renowned researchers in the field and share the coordination and curatorship of Ceia - Centro de Experimentação e Informação de Arte, in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. The workshop is divided into three blocks devoted to the study of bibliographical references and historic examples of performance, the development and experimentation of actions proposed by the participants and, finally, the presentation of the end results during the Festival.
Videobrasil On-Line, a sophisticated database structuring the knowledge of the southern circuit the Association has amassed over the last 23 years, is allotted its own space at the Festival. In laboratories, researchers and editors responsible for Videobrasil On-Line content will help video-makers experiment with the database, by teaching them how to input new data and update older entries, and by discussing indexing modes and key-concepts. More than simply facilitating extraordinary proximity between the user and the instrument, the objective of this activity is to share Videobrasil On-Line with the community it was designed to serve, thus dividing the responsibility for the update and precision of its content amongst artists, curators and researchers. The idea behind the laboratories is to establish a model of participation that can become a norm for all those interested in strengthening the southern circuit.
All throughout the Festival, at the playful extreme of the Reflection Zone, three heterogeneous groups of creators will team up to produce on-spec music and live-image happenings through the manipulation of various image banks. Supplied by the event with the necessary structure, artists from different countries and mind- sets will work together until they arrive at a product that translates their similarities and differences – whether of language, behavior or genre – into nights of pure entertainment.
ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL VIDEOBRASIL. "15º Festival Internacional de Arte Eletrônica Videobrasil - 'Performance.'": de 6 a 25 de setembro de 2005, p. 226-227, São Paulo-SP, 2005.