(this page was last updated in April 2023)
Brasília, Brazil, 1980.
Lives and works in Recife, Brazil
Represented by Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel .
PIPA 2010 and 2017 nominee.
PIPA 2017 winner.
Nominating Committee Member PIPA 2019.
Works in the PIPA Institute Collection
Her photographic practice is centered on the ‘popular body’ and its strategies of visibility and subversion between the fields of pop culture and tradition. Being published in book formats since 2007, her works have been exhibited in solo and group shows nationally and internationally and are part of the MASP and MAM collections in Sao Paulo. A monograph with an extensive selection of her photographs is published in “That which is beautiful must be seen”(Het Domein 2009). Since 2011, she works in collaboration with artist Benjamin de Burca (Munich, 1975) with whom she participated in: 58th Biennale di Venezia (Venice, Italy), Front International – Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art (Cleveland, USA), 33rd and 35th Panorama de Arte Brasileira (MAM, Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo), 4th Biennale des Arts Actuéls (La Réunion, France), 36th EVA International (Limerick, Ireland ), 5th Marcantonio Vilaça Prize, 32nd São Paulo Biennial, 5th Skulptur Projekte Münster and the 20th Festival de Arte Contemporânea Sesc Videobrasil. In 2011 she completed a MFA at the Dutch Art Institute.
Video produced by Do Rio Filmes exclusively for PIPA 2017:
Bárbara Wagner developed until 2006, the photography project, “Brasília Teimosa”, published in 2007 and showcased in solo exhibitions in the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro e Brasília.
In 2008 the artist held solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, and at the Extraspazio, in Rome. In the same year, Wagner was invited by the Fundação Made in Mirrors, to participate in residency programmes in Vitamin Creative Space (China) and the Museu Het Domein (Netherlands), where she published a book titled “O que é bonito é pra se ver”.
In 2009, her works were acquired by the collection of Pirelli/Masp de Fotografia, and was selected by the programme Rumos Visuais, of Instituto Itaú Cultural.
In 2010, her works were acquired by the Museum of Modern Art SP and was exhibited in group shows at Luisa Strina Gallery, A Gentil Carioca, Instituto Wyspa (Polando), FotoTrier (Germany), Fesman (Senegal) e Bulegoa (Spain). In the same year, Wagner was nominated for the first edition of PIPA Prize and had a solo exhibition at Marcantonio Vilaça Gallery (Real/Santander) and published a book in the city of Recife titled “Ensaio”.
In 2011, the artist was nominated by the São Paulo Biennale to participate in the Art Biennale (Switzerland), in the same year she participated in the group exhibition “Geraçao 00″ at Sesc Belenzinho in São Paulo. Bárbara Wagner has a Masters Degree in Visual Art by the Dutch Art Institute, Holland, where she published her most recent work “Era uma vez no Oeste.”
BÁRBARA WAGNER IN CONVERSATION WITH LUIZ CAMILLO OSORIO
Bárbara, tell me about the beginning of your career. Did you begin yours with Photography? Dealing with documental photography?
My first contact with photography was through Journalism. It was in the newsroom that I realised how the technical image is just another dimension of the text in terms of ideology. As a photojournalist, I developed a taste for reading critically stereotypes and clichés, constructions so synthetic that sometimes they can seem like previously stated realities. Refusing to adequate myself to both mass media and the art world, I experimented making photography in between those two circuits, not only constructing “images of reality” but above all paying attention to the “reality of the images”. My quest was really to stand between documentary and art because I believed I didn’t have to stop doing the first to do the second. In “Brasília Teimosa” (2005-2007) the challenge was exactly this: to pinpoint the dynamics of the cliché so hard to the point it was taken down. In technical terms, there isn’t anything new there: the engagement with the photographic object – as well as the engagement with the spectator – happens through a very conventional aesthetic, triggered by the flash. But it was a pre-selfie era, and photographic registers of the Brazilian ‘people’ were rare in terms of an alternative to the aesthetic of misery. I remember showing this work to Hito Steyerl in 2010; she told me it looked like Brazil in 2050.
What kind of experience is there in the Brazilian Northeast, the “sertão”, in the building of your poetics and your artistic perception? Although your images carry a certain baroque excess, mainly due to the light, I can also perceive attention towards an existential dryness, a wish to deal with people who took on a very honest commitment with what they chose. Lives which sew together freedom and need. Tell me a bit about what are you interested in revealing in the researches that make the basis for your work.
Brazilian Northeastern popular traditions are a major art school for me. Not much in the sense of folklore or Carnaval, but above all because, in essence, they deal with a kind of knowledge brought about by the body. I’m very interested in observing the ways this knowledge occupies spaces and production modes, the ways this bodies transit through ritual and spectacle, and most of all, I’m interested in revealing the ‘work’ invested in this operation. When I watch a traditional festival on the streets or an MC performing on stage, what I really want to understand is its dynamics during rehearsals or backstage. ‘Estrela Brilhante’ (2008-2010), ‘The Cortege’ (2012-2013) e ‘Mestres de Cerimônias’ (2015-2016) are pursuits in that area. In a region in Brazil where rural modes of production coexist with unstoppable developmentalism, these traditions, this knowledge and these bodies carry on a constant battle between resistance and adaptation.
I know that your projects always implicate in extensive, devoted research projects. How is this process of building a work?
As Adirley Queirós says, if there was a formula, there was no need for us to be artists – Globo [one of the largest Brazilian media companies] would have already invented machines to make art. Every researcher knows the feeling of not knowing where the research will lead to, and for me that is the only possible path. But I do acknowledge that throughout the years I’ve developed a methodology based both in Journalism (and the feeling of urgency in observing and communicating a fact) and in rehearsal (in the sense of the need for repeat and test that same fact). As if in a fictional ethnography, I approach the Other and build together with him an approach method. This way, the result is never predictable, the process becomes the centre of the work and, ethically speaking, I find a possible place on the topic of the apparent hybridism between documentary and fiction.
On another note, tell me about your transition to moving images. Did this come about thanks to your partnership with artist Benjamin de Burca (Munich, 1975)?
My collaboration with Benjamin started in 2013 when he came to Brazil for the first time and estranged everything that was familiar to me – the hundreds of sculptures in the rich neighbourhood buildings of Recife (which were established by law in 1961), for example. Determined to photograph them, Benjamin needed someone to help him get inside the buildings. While he photographed the sculptures, I chit-chatted with the building’s doormen, who gave their opinions on the quality of the artworks as if they were true curators (“Edifício Recife”, 2013). Our moving image work, on another note, started to take shape when Pedro Sotero began collaborating with us. Cinematographer in films such as Neighboring Sounds (2012) and Aquarius (2016), Pedro is interested in a camera capable of being engaged with the subject it seeks to portray, actively participating in each project’s research. He was DP in the four films we did until now. If I’m the journalist who perceives the urgency of a certain matter or problem, Benjamin (whose artistic practice comes from the collage of the most surrealist kind) makes us experiment with fiction, while Pedro takes to another level the outreach and circulation of the images we’re interested in building and observing.
Talk about this trilogy you’re finishing right now, which puts frevo, brega and gospel music side by side. Is it a quest for the most genuine and rural parts of Brazil?
Since the 2013 protests, there have been significant changes in the way we understand class, work and community in Brazil. The idea of social mobility as a synonym for purchasing power and access to media and technology has transformed for good the ways distinct classes interact with each other. This triangular relationship between terreiro [where Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies take place], stage and altar seemed to us a sufficiently clear way to analyze how a whole generation learned to transit through ritual and spectacle while working with their own bodies, building their own image. In “Set to go” (2015), Frevo as a form of urban resistance occupies the bidimensional space of the touristic postcard, while in “You are seeing things” the brega culture is entirely built to circulate as a video clip. In “Terremoto Santo” (2017), Gospel moves the altar to anywhere where it can go, challenging the notions of institution and power. In all three movies, the people who are portrayed are well aware of how to build their own image and voice, and because of that we are far away from the idea of “putting a spotlight on” or “giving voice”. If this is a new Brazil, and if it’s not even that genuine and rural, what we want to discuss is exactly its performance to the camera.
How was it for you – Bárbara and Benjamin – the experience of Münster this year? This has been a very productive year – Berlinale, Münster, Instituto Moreira Salles, PIPA, Panorama and Videobrasil. How to handle such a busy calendar? Do the two of you split tasks?
We don’t have a studio or assistants. We split up the work and it’s indeed hard when research periods coincide with those in which the works become public. Since we do documentaries, our production is necessarily slower, and that makes us, for example, to showcase, in 2017, works produced years earlier which hadn’t been presented to an audience yet (the case of the works showcased at Instituto Moreira Salles and Panorama). At Berlinale, PIPA and Videobrasil, we showcased works exhibited beforehand, but this time in the form of installations, and to another audience. Participating in the Skulptur Projekte in Münster was a huge challenge – in a show historically addressed to the discussion of the role of sculpture in public space, we did a film about traditional German music and installed it inside a nightclub (‘Bye Bye Germany! A life Melody’, 2017). In a year in which art was stroke just as hard as the Democratic State (e.g., amongst so many other cases, the destruction of a sculpture in Münster and at Panorama), working as an artist reveals itself to be, more than ever, an exercise in resistance and citizenship.
– “You Are Seeing Things” – Three Films by Barbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
-“You Are Seeing Things”, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico
-“You Are Seeing Things”, Templebar Gallery and Studios (TBG+S), Dublin, Ireland
-“You Are Seeing Things”, VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland
-“You Are Seeing Things”, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami, USA
– “RISE”, Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel | Galeria, São Paulo, Brazil
– “RISE”- Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, Canada
– “Terremoto Santo”, The Box, Wexner Centre for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, USA
– “Estás Vendo Coisas”, EAV Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
-“Aspirations”, MoCAD – Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, USA
– “Faz que vai / Set to go”, Bruch und Dallas, Cologne, Germany
– “Faz que vai / Set to go”, Solo-Shows, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Faz que vai / Set to go”, Capibaribe Centro da Imagem, CCI, Recife, Brazil
– “Como se fosse verdade”, Estúdio Madalena, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Cinema Casino”, Centro Cultural São Paulo, CCSP, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Edifício Recife”, Sala Nordeste, Recife, Brazil
– “É como se fosse verdade”, Estudio Madalena, São Paulo, Brazil
–“Estrela Brilhante”, Instituto Cultural Banco Real/ Santander, São Paulo, Brazil
-“DSM Hoofdkantoor”, Heerlen, The Netherlands
-“Brasília Teimosa”, e x t r a s p a z i o, Rome, Italy
-“Brasília Teimosa”, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, UK
-“Woonwagenbewoners” – A work in progress, Museum Het Domein Sittard, Netherlands
-“Brasília Teimosa”, Caixa Cultural, Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Brasília Teimosa”, Malakoff Tower, Recife, Brazil
– 58ª International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy
– “Because the Night”, Fotomuseum Winthertur, Winthertur, Switzerland
– “Lost and Found”, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, Singapore
– “Renovação Carismática”, Caixa Preta, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Baile da Aurora Sincera!”, Solar dos Abacaxis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “À Nordeste”, SESC 24 de Maio, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Corpo a Corpo”, SESC Araraquara, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Corpo a Corpo”, IMS – Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Vadios e Beatos”, Galeria da Gávea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises”, Front International – Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art,Cleveland, USA
– “Arte Democracia Utopia – Quem não luta tá morto”, MAR – Museu do Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– Front International Triennial, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
– “Birds”, Oldenburger Kunstverein, Oldenburg, Germany
– “Nuit Blanche Scarborough”, Toronto, Canada
– CCA Derry~Londonderry , Londonderry, UK
– 35º Panorama da Arte Brasilera, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil
– Prêmio PIPA 2017, MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– 5º Skulptur Projekte, Münster, Germany
– 20º Festival de Arte Contemporânea, SESC VideoBrasil, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Incerteza Viva”, 32nd São Paulo Biennial (travelling), SESC Campinas, Campinas; Palácio das
Artes, Belo Horizonte; Palácio da Instrução, Cuiabá; SESC Rio Preto, São José do Rio Preto; SESC Santos;
SESC Garanhuns; SESC Palmas; SESC Itajaí, Brazil; Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto,
Portugal; MAMBO – Museu de Arte Moderna de Bogotá, Colombia.
– “Corpo a Corpo”, IMS – Instituto Moreira Salles, São Paulo, Brazil
– 25th Curtas Vila do Conde IFF, Vila do Conde, Portugal
– “Etnopoéticas da Imagem”, Casarão 34, João Pessoa, Brazil
– “Entre Nós” – A figura humana no acervo do MASP, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro; Centro
Cultural Banco do Brasil, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
– “Uma Canção para o Rio (parte 2)”, Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel | Carpintaria, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Point Triple de la Matière”, Foundation Fiminco, Romainville, France
– “Evoé”, Galeria Amparo 60, Recife, Brazil
– “Voragem”, Galeria Amparo 60, Recife, Brazil
– “Travessias 5: Emergência” – Arte Contemporânea na Maré, Galpão Bela Maré, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Frucht und Faulheit”, Lothringer13, Munich, Germany
– “O terceiro mundo pede a bênção e vai dormir”, Despina – Largo das Artes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Incerteza Viva”, 32a Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, Pavilhão da Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Uma Canção para o Rio (parte 1)”, Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel | Carpintaria, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Histórias da Infância”, MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
– Prêmio Brasil Fotografia, Espaço Cultural Porto Seguro, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Rumos: Singularidades e Anotações”, Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Transborda”, Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil
– Arte Pará, Museu Histórico do Estado do Pará, Belém, Brazil
– Prêmio CNI SESI Marcantônio Vilaça, MAC-USP – Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
– Kleine Humboldt Galerie, Berlin, Germany
– “Offside Brazil”, Magnum Photos, Turin, Italy
– “Utopian city”, Latvian Museum for Contemporary Art, LCCA, Riga, Lithuania
– “Rumos: Singularidades e Anotações”, Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Do Valongo à Favela”, MAR – Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
-“Dois pra lá, dois pra cá”, Galería Metropolitana, Santiago, Chile
– 2º Berlin Art Prize, Berlin, Germany
– 36a EVA International, Limerick, Ireland
– “Esboço para uma coreografia”, Central Galeria, São Paulo, Brazil
– “7×1”, Blockbuster Exhibitions, Berlin, Germany
– “Frestas”, Trienal de Artes. SESC Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil
– 33º Panorama de Arte Brasileira, MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil
– “Mitologias”, MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil
– 4eme Biennale des Arts Actuéls, La Réunion, France
– “Neither here nor there”, Grimmuseum, Berlin, Germany; Galway Art Center, Galway, Ireland
– “More to Tell”, Recent acquisitions for the collection, Museum Het Domein, Sittard, Netherlands
– Lulea Art Biennal LAB 11, Lulea, Sweden
– LEBEN elementar, FotoTageTrier 2010, Trier, Germany
– “Made in Mirrors”, Museum Het Domein, Sittard, Netherlands
– “Rumos”, Instituto Itau Cultural, São Paulo | Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– Photography Collection Pirelli-Masp, Masp – Museum of Art of São Paulo, Brazil
– “Brazilian Summer – Art & the City”, Museum Het Domein, Sittard, Netherlands
– “Trilhas do Desejo”, Rumos Artes Visuais, São Paulo, Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– Book release “Brasília Teimosa”, Forte das Cinco Pontas, Recife, Brazil
– “Estética da Periferia” at Museum of Modern Art Aloísio Magalhães, Mamam, in Recife, Brazil
– “Linguagens”, Torre Malakoff, Recife, Brazil
– “FotoGarça”, Maceió, Brazil
– “JF em foco”, Juiz de Fora, Brazil
– “Brasília Teimosa” at CAIXA Cultural- São Paulo, and Caixa Cultural- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– She receives a scholarship from Fundação do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico de Pernambuco (Fundarpe) to develop the project “Brasília Teimosa”, inside the program of the 46th Salão de Artes Plásticas de Pernambuco.
– First solo exhibition of the photographs for the “Brasilia Teimosa” project at Torre Malakoff, PE, inside the exhibition for the scholars of the 46th Fine Arts Salon of Pernambuco.
– She works in Agência Lumiar de Fotografia in the areas of advertising, institutional and journalism. Publishes several magazines and national newspapers. During this period, she participated in two group shows in exhibition venues in Recife.
– Graduated in journalism, developed monograph on photography as “urban representation” by analyzing images of the Jornal do Commercio, Recife, where she works as a professional photographer.
– 69th Berlin International Film Festival (Audi Short Film Award), Germany
– 67th Berlin International Film Festival (Short film nominee), Germany
– Paulo Cunha e Silva Prêmio de Arte, organized by City Council, Porto, Portugal(nominee)
– Acquisition Prize, 20º Festival de Arte Contemporânea SESC_Videobrasil, Brazil
– PIPA Prize, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– Prêmio Brasil Fotografia
– IX Videoarte, Fundaj, Brazil
– IV Bolsa ZUM/IMS de Fotografia, Brazil
– V CNI Sesi Marcantônio Vilaça, Brazil
– 2nd Berlin Art Prize (nominee), Germany
– Programa de Exposições, Centro Cultural São Paulo, Brazil
– Prêmio Artes Visuais, Prefeitura da Cidade do Recife, Brazil
– XII Marc Ferrez, Funarte, Brazil
– 46º Salão de Arte de Pernambuco, Brazil
– Acervo SESC de Arte Brasileira, São Paulo, Brazil
– CIFO – The Ella Fontanals Cisneros Collection, Miami, USA
– DSM, Heerlen, Netherlands
– FUNDAJ – Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife, Brazil
– IMS – Instituto Moreira Salles, São Paulo, Brazil
– MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Coleção Pirelli-Masp de Fotografia. São Paulo, Brazil
– MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
– MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– MAR – Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– Museum Het Domein, Sittard, Netherlands
– Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
– Coleção Instituto PIPA, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– PAMM | Pérez Art Museum, Miami, USA
– Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, France
– Made in Mirrors Foundation / Vitamin Creative Space
– Guangzhou, China (October 2008)
– Made in Mirrors / Museum Het Domein
– Sittard, Netherlands (November 2008)
– Brasília Teimosa, Fotografias. Bárbara Wagner
– Text: Helder Aragão and Julia Rebouças
– Edition: 1000
– O que é bonito é pra se ver / That which is beautiful must be seen.
– Bárbara Wagner. Museum Het Domein
– Texts: Cristiana Tejo and Roel Arkesteijn
– Edition: 1000
– ENSAIO. Bárbara Wagner
– Text: Giuliano Sergio
– Edition: 1000
– “A Dança que Desafia o Retrato”, by Ana Maria Maia – Revista Select 2016
– “Somos Isso e Aquilo, Violentos e Cordiais, Modernos e Antigos, Populares e Contemporâneos, Misturados e Separados”, by Lilia Schwarcz – Baazar Arte, 2016
– Bárbara Wagner – 32ª Bienal de São Paulo, by Bruno Mendonça
Video produced by Matrioska Filmes exclusively for PIPA 2010:
- Last weeks to see "Five Times Brazil" by Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca
- Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca’s film installation is presented for the first time in Paris
- PIPA Prize and PIPA Institute's exhibitions are on display at Paço Imperial (Rio de Janeiro)
- Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca release a new film
- "Cities in dust" ilustrates the utopic future
- 'Touch' showcases 'Faz que vai', by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca
- "Estás vendo coisas", by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, is screened in Portugal
- "SWINGUERRA" ARRIVES TO BIENNIAL PAVILION
- Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca present three videos about Brazilian culture abroad
- International Women's Day: meet the five PIPA Prize female winners
- Watch the PIPA Prize 2017 Finalists' Exhibition making-of video
- Bárbara Wagner | Nominated Artist 2010