February 1–April 20, 2014, the Wexner Center for the Arts will present the major exhibition Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil, among the most ambitious exhibitions in the center’s 25-year history. Occupying the entirety of the center’s four galleries, as well as a site-specific installation created especially for this show by Lucia Koch in the center’s lobby, Cruzamentos is the result of more than three years of curatorial research and travel by Wexner Center staff to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Recife, Belo Horizonte, as well as less traveled urban centers in Brazil. With 80 artworks by 35 artists (many of whom have never widely exhibited in the US), working across virtually all genres and a full range of artistic practices, Cruzamentos represents the largest exhibition of contemporary Brazilian art ever to be presented in North America.
The exhibition is made possible by a generous grant to the Wexner Center from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2011, which allowed the Wex to embark on an in-depth look at contemporary visual and media arts culture of Brazil, concentrating on the almost 30 years of artistic production in Brazil since the fall of the dictatorship in 1985. The ongoing initiative—called Via Brasil—also includes a major film series, a website (www.wexarts.org/viabrasil), a translation of writing by film critic Paulo Emílio Sales Gomes, an academic symposium, a graduate-level seminar at Ohio State, and performing arts events, among other projects.
Cocurated by the Wexner Center’s Jennifer Lange, curator of the center’s Film/Video Studio Program, and Bill Horrigan, the center’s curator at large, along with the distinguished contemporary art historian and independent curator Paulo Venâncio Filho (a professor at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro), Cruzamentos features artwork by artists who are relatively young, well-known, and highly respected in Brazil, if not yet globally. Cruzamentos includes a full range of artistic practices—painting, site-specific installations, photography, sculpture, and moving image works—a number of which are being produced specifically for the exhibition. Visual artists in Brazil commonly move freely and urgently among various mediums, and Cruzamentos reflects that improvisatory impulse, as it does the equally distinctive repurposing of nontraditional materials—often domestic objects put to unexpected but striking use.
Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin says, “So much of what the world has come to know of Brazilian culture is rooted in the ‘neo-concretism’ or ‘tropicalia’ movements of the 50s and 60s—both of which remain incredibly influential today. In conceiving Cruzamentos, Wexner Center curators chose to focus on visual and media art created over the last 30 years—during a time of significant political, economic, and social transition. And while international art fairs, biennales, and the like have brought world attention to a select handful of Brazilian artists working today, this exhibition is meant to shed light on a wider array of artists and on broader cultural impulses coursing through this exceedingly complex and diverse nation.”
Notes Lange, “The word ‘cruzamentos’ translates literally as ‘crossings’ or ‘intersections,’ but in Brazil, it also refers metaphorically to the mixing of cultures and ethnicities that renders the country so distinctive. Cruzamentos aims to extend that metaphor to contemporary art, focusing on artists whose practices and influences are as varied as the social, racial, and geographical landscapes of the country itself.”
Artists featured in Cruzamentos include Márcio Almeida, Jonathas de Andrade (in residence), Claudia Andujar, Luiza Baldan, Brígida Baltar, Laura Belém, Tatiana Blass, Rodrigo Braga, Gisele Camargo, Leda Catunda, Cia de Foto (a collective), Marcelo Cidade, Theo Craveiro, Alexandre da Cunha, José Damasceno, Marcius Galan, Alair Gomes, Fernanda Gomes, Cao Guimarãres, Lucia Koch (in residence), Detanico and Lain, Jac Leirner, Cristiano Lenhardt, Cinthia Marcelle, , Vânia Mignone, Beatriz Milhazes, Odires Mlászho, Maria Nepomuceno, Caio Reisewitz, Rosângela Rennó, Dias & Riedweg, Regina Silveira, Adriana Varejäo, Erika Verzutti, and Marcia Xavier.
Cruzamentos-related events include artist talks, free exhibition tours from Wexner Center docents and others, family-friendly programs, an Ohio State University Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day supported by Fidelity Investments, performing arts programming, and more. A major symposium on contemporary Brazilian visual art is also slated for March 26 and 27, 2014, and one surrounding Paulo Emílio Sales Gomes’ work is planned for fall 2014.
Chris Stults, associate curator of film/video, has organized Cruzamentos: Contemporary Brazilian Documentary Film, a major documentary film series in conjunction with the exhibition. With nearly two dozen feature films and nine short films, many of which have received little to no exposure in the US, the series will run February through April, 2014 at the Wexner Center before touring elsewhere.
A fully illustrated catalogue, portions of which will appear in Portuguese as well as in English, will accompany Cruzamentos, with essays by Venâncio Filho, Lange, Horrigan, and Stults as well as by Cristiana Tejo, independent Brazilian curator and former director of Museu de Arte Moderna Aloíso Magalhães in Recife. The catalogue will also include entries on the individual artists (many by Brazilian art historian and Mellon postdoctoral fellow for Via Brasil, Denise Carvalho) and document three creative residencies for Brazilian filmmakers and video artists central to the Via Brasil initiative: two by artists represented in Cruzamentos (Jonathas de Andrade and Lucia Koch), and Gabriel Mascaro, selected as the result of an institutional collaboration between the Wexner Center and the São Paulo-based video art festival Videobrasil (the first partnership ever undertaken by Videobrasil with a North American institution). Because of the premium Cruzamentos places on new and site-specific projects, its 200-page catalogue is scheduled to appear midway during the exhibition’s run, so as to allow for photographic documentation of those works in the center’s galleries.