The Artsy Vanguard 2019: Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca

Artsy Editorial
Sep 16, 2019 6:18PM

Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca by Chico Barros. Courtesy of Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel.

Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca
Swinguerra, 2019
Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel

The creative duo that is Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca got their start only six years ago, when the two collaborated on a photographic series exploring the new middle class in Brazil. They have since developed some 10 comprehensive projects for biennials, exhibitions, and festivals around the world. Their signature works investigate youth culture and marginalized communities through a multidisciplinary practice that integrates filmmaking, anthropology, performance, music, and dance. The artists meld documentary and fiction by working in collaboration with their protagonists: rappers in Toronto; Swingueira dancers in Brazil; schlager singers in Germany.

Wagner & de Burca had recent solo shows at Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel in São Paulo and the Pérez Art Museum Miami that were dedicated to the subculture of brega music, a genre that combines hip-hop, techno, and reggaeton. But their most powerful project to date is the film and photography series “Swinguerra” (2019), with which they are representing Brazil at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The work celebrates the underrecognized Swingueira dance groups of Recife, Brazil; the film captures the social struggles of the young dancers, many of whom are black and identify as non-binary, as they rehearse and perform elaborate dances that reflect their everyday realities.


Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, who curated the Brazilian pavilion, said the duo’s work is “remarkable in its ability to hone in on some of the major issues facing the world today, but to do so without being didactic or pedantic, and with a joyful spirit.” He added, “Their methodology is fundamentally respectful of their collaborators, and this process allows multiple views and perspectives to emerge naturally.”

Artsy Editorial