Luiz Camillo Osorio, curator of MAM-Rio and member of PIPA’s Board, talks about the importance of memory, archive, registration of facts, and how the PIPA videos have these goals.
Hunger for files
You watch the documentary that Scorcese made about Dylan and is astonished to see how Americans documented every interview given by the then promising folk singer. We can stop right here and say that Dylan and the United States deserve each other. Nothing in the history of Brazil has made us to have an attitude of high expectations on ourselves that lead us to register what emerges.
– Caetano Veloso
Reading this passage written in his column at O Globo newspaper on October 7th, 2012, I couldn’t not agree more with Caetano. In fact, there is a enormous negligence regarding to memory, to file, the record of events. Our passion for the ephemeral, our continuous promise of a future, ends to disregard the register of facts and the need to give them some posterity.
A recent example for opening the discussion. Marta Mestre, a Portuguese curator and assistant curator of MAM-Rio, wanted to make an exhibition with the history of Espaço Sergio Porto, in Rio. Between the late 1980’s and the middle of the next decade, that small gallery in Humaitá launched a whole generation of artists that today is internationally acclaimed. Despite the relevance of that space for the city, there was no file or record of the facts available. The solution was to go to what was saved by the artists to move the project forward. The disregard for the public access to memory is a dangerous pathology that strengthens privileges and reinforces asymmetries.
On the other hand, with the recent development of new technologies and the ease of photographing or filming every and any happening with a small cellphone, there is a real hunger for playback. Before the experience, the existential bond, the affection, already comes the record. The equation is inverted, but if there isn’t a way to select and keep the registering, the problem stays the same.
We must combine matter and memory and build archives that bring a bet on the differentiated recordings of the present. Fortunately, some initiatives begin to appear in Brazil – better late than never – in the sense of creating, retrieving and working with archives. The Prêmio Investidor Profissional de Arte – PIPA – bets in that direction by conducting small interviews via Skype with all the Prize’s nominees. These interviews seek to hear them briefly talking about their works, their creative processes, work environment, questions and demands. These videos are available at PIPA website alongside the page of every nominated artist. The idea is that they can be updated from new nominations of artists to the Prize, but always having as a priority the first time nominees.
Setting the view on the present, they might seem as a mere occasional and superficial record. However, our effort is to go beyond the concentrated and focused look of the art market that repeats names to inflate values. The open and decentralized record widens the angle of attention recording the diversity of the local scene. Between the closed market and the indifference of non-criterion, interviews and pages of PIPA nominees are a panoramic portrait of Brazilian contemporary art.
In these three years, 195 interviews have been done with 159 different artists, living in cities as distinct as Riachão do Jacuípe in Bahia, Belém and Piraquara in Pará, Berlin, Stockholm, and, of course, Rio, São Paulo and in major Brazilian capitals. The many micro-scenes that compose the Brazilian contemporary scene can be viewed and evaluated, revealing differences and convergences. To what extent are all these artists contemporary? Which Brazil – plural – speaks through its creative questions? How do they share common poetic horizons?
When PIPA invited Matrioska film production to make these videos, its goal was to build a small database on Brazilian contemporary art. If the prize aims to recognize and distinguish, the building of a contemporary memory looked for an amplified analysis of the circuit.
Naturally, the artists that live on the outskirts are the most interested in making the videos. If they don’t have a computer with a camera, they figure out some way to have the possibility of presenting themselves for the bigger circuit.
We are sure that the continuity of these records and their combination with the renewal of the artists’ pages – that has to be made in partnership with the artists and their respective galleries – will maximize the relevance of this database. A growing number of interested people, from researchers to collectors, have begun using the PIPA website for the benefit of all. It is common for us to get emails by researchers, national and international (the site is bilingual, Portuguese/English), who used the website and are thanking us for making everything available on the web.
It will be with the construction of archives and a critical Brazilian art memory that our circuit will be able to answer, without running over itself, by the growing euphoria of the international markets, whose interests, its most legitimate interests, are myopic and don’t value the intensive time necessary for the construction of poetics with the density proper to them. Archives, all of them, need filters, criteria, conflicts and, above all, heterogeneous temporality, non-synchronic and non-immediate. PIPA tries to do its part.
Luiz Camillo Osorio – Curator of MAM-Rio and PIPA Advisor