Venice Biennale 2024: indigenous art stands out in the Brazilian pavilion

2023-11-16 10:26:28

Between April 20th and November 24th, 2024, Italy will host the 60th edition of one of the most important events in the art world: the Venice Biennale, with the theme Foreigners Everywhere, curated by Brazilian Adriano Pedrosa. Recently, the São Paulo Biennial Foundation announced that the Brazilian pavilion, renamed Pavilhão Hãhãwpuá – a name in the Patxohã language and used by the Pataxós to refer to the territory now understood as Brazil – will be occupied by the exhibition Ka’a Pûera: we are birds that walkby Glicéria Tupinambá and guests, curated by Arissana Pataxó, Denilson Baniwa and Gustavo Caboco Wapichana.

VEHICLES

Just as the Tupinambá saw the power of rebirth in the forest, when they cleared its interior for agricultural purposes, and, after the cycle, it regenerated, so they themselves were reborn in a symbolic way before the gaze of the State. The Brazilian State, which declared the Tupinambá people as extinct, in 2001 began to recognize them as a people fighting to maintain their territory, as if they emerged, resurrected, from the jungle itself. A car is a powerful word in ancient Tupi that denotes this resilient area of ​​farmland cultivation, it also evokes the image of a small bird that skillfully camouflages itself in the forest, symbolizing the duality, the similarity between the birds and the natives who, like them, know how to walk in tune with the earth and its secrets.

THE ARTIST

Glicéria Tupinambá. Image: Robson Dias.

Glicéria Tupinambá (1982) is an artist, teacher and researcher, originally from the Serra do Padeiro village, located in the Tupinambá lands in southern Bahia. Glicéria’s public recognition began to gain prominence with the production of the documentary Voice of Indigenous Women (2015), a work that brings together testimonies from indigenous women not only in Bahia, but also in Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte and Alagoas. The documentary gave voice to the experiences and perspectives of indigenous women, shedding light on their stories and challenges.

In 2010, Glicéria’s courage was highlighted when she denounced violent actions by the Federal Police against her people at a hearing in Brasília. This act of resistance cost her her freedom, and she was arrested along with her baby in arms. This incident aroused criticism and outrage from entities not only in Brazil, but also internationally, solidifying her position as a tireless defender of indigenous rights.

It is also noteworthy that Glicéria Tupinambá contributed to the redefinition of sacred indigenous cloaks, recreating pieces that include up to 4000 bird feathers. Her actions highlight the rise of contemporary indigenous artists and their crucial role in revisiting history, demanding the restitution of historical artifacts, such as the 17th century Tupinambá cloak that was under the custody of the Nationalmuseet, in Denmark.

Assojaba Tupinambá, 2021, by Glicéria Tupinambá, work by the artist invited to the Brazilian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Image: Premio Pipa

Glicéria Tupinambá is, without a doubt, a central figure in the contemporary art scene and in the movement to value indigenous culture in Brazil and the world, contributing to the construction of cultural bridges and the reclaiming of long-neglected rights. She was awarded the 10th edition of ZUM/IMS Photography with the project We are birds that walk in 2022 and is one of the winners of the 2023 PIPA Prize, which reinforces its growing influence and recognition in the artistic scene.

THE CURATORS

In addition to the works of Glicéria Tupinambá, there will be guest artists that have not yet been announced, and the selection of works will be in charge of indigenous artists:

Arissana Pataxó (1983) visual artist, researcher and teacher of Pataxó origin from the Porto Seguro region in Bahia. Graduated in fine arts from UFBA, her training merges with her experience as a Pataxó, resulting in complex and experienced works, from painting to photography, going through different techniques, which highlight cultural, social and political encounters.

Denilson Baniwa (1984) originally from the Darí village, Amazonas, he is a visual artist and curator who mixes Western influences and traditions of his Baniwa people in his work, addressing contemporary indigenous issues. His career includes founding Rádio Yandê, the first indigenous radio in Brazil, and impactful performances at events such as the São Paulo Biennial. In addition to his artistic work, he acts as a curator and promoter of indigenous culture, using art as a means of resistance and awareness of indigenous issues in Brazil and beyond.

Denilson Baniwa. Imagem: Adrian Ikematsu

Gustavo Caboco Waterfall (1989) born in Curitiba is a renowned visual artist from the Wapichana indigenous people. His works cover various techniques, such as embroidery, drawings, murals, poetry, videos, performances and objects, and reflect his reunion with his family from the Canauamin Indigenous Land, in Roraima. His artistic journey is marked by the exploration of indigenous roots, the appreciation of Wapichana culture and a critique of attempts to erase these roots in Brazil. Throughout his career, he has participated in exhibitions and projects that expand the understanding of contemporary indigenous art and its importance in the construction of counter-hegemonic narratives about the original peoples of Brazil.

Gustavo Caboco. Image: Caboco.tv
Wapichana childhood threads, from the series Di-fuso Encounters (2022), Gustavo Caboco. Image: Premio Pipa

A 60th Venice Biennale promises to mark the history of art in Brazil. In addition to the Brazilian curator, the indigenous representation in the national pavilion, there will also be the awarding of the Brazilian artist Anna Maria Maiolino with the Golden Lion, an award recognizing her lifetime of work, and the Turkish artist Nil Yalter will also be awarded. Born in 1942, Maiolino stood out for her diverse artistic production, including drawings, sculptures, performances and videos. Her work frequently addresses issues of identity, gender and politics, and represents an invaluable influence on the contemporary art scene.

Anna Maria Maiolino. Image: Cobogó.
Interviews, from the series Fotopoemação (1981), Anna Maria Maiolino. Image: Henri Virgil Stahl.

In the edition that will discuss territories in their infinite dimensions, Brazil discusses the topic from the perspective of indigenous territory, historically symbolically placed as foreign and often living clandestinely in its own home. Glicéria Tupinambá, with her art and activism, is a brilliant choice to bring to light not only ancestral traditions, but also the fight for territory and the life that this territory represents.

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