Brazilian artists and curators have clearly been politicized by the situation. Over the course of the Art Week, the artists and curators from a younger generation (mostly in their twenties and thirties) described the recent political shakeup as “the coup” and openly declared themselves part of the #FreeLula movement. An exhibition by
at Sesc Pompéia, a government-funded cultural center, is representative of the new strategies artists are implementing, Brenner said. Artists are starting to shift from pamphleteering and “fuck you” posters to more nuanced and poetic reflections, but it has taken several years. For her exhibition, Koch placed a violet filter over the space’s glass ceiling, and filled the spaces with hundreds of wooden rods painted red (the color of the Worker’s Party). She also invited visitors to wear red when they come to see the work.
The omnipresent turmoil taking place in Brazil today also motivated the exhibition at Video Brasil, which organizes an internationally renowned biennial of video art. Curated by Júlia Rebouças, this year’s edition is titled “MitoMotim,” a neologism that combines the words “myth” and “insurrection.” The show features practices that exemplify tactics of resistance from its formidable collection, such as the collective Frente 3 de Fevereiro, who had a pirate TV channel providing their own reinterpretation of the news and hacked major TV stations between 1987 and 1990. The show also included newly commissioned works that emphasize the political vision and desires of the new generation of artists, who seek to explore the interests of marginalized sectors of the Brazilian population.
The discrepancy between the politically oriented art on view around the city and that for sale at the fair gave SP-Arte an escapist quality; it served as a refuge from the instability and uncertainty. Fortunately, the art spaces of São Paolo provided a place for more overt engagement with the urgent political situation that touches all Brazilians. One thing is certain, the arrest of Lula is not yet the end of the political saga, but only a new chapter, and artists are still working through how best to respond to the massively complex situation.