Having spent the last 5 months in Brazil as a outsider peering in, I’ve tried to pull back the curtain to discover what is essentially Brazilian about artistic modes of production. It eludes me. The constant state of flux it impossible to pause and properly articulate. Much like the boom of the Brazilian economy, the art fervor here can be hard to grasp. From this touristic snapshot view, it appears that the infamous notion of antropofagia, or cannibalism – Brazil’s successful incorporation and reinvention of external influences (a notion popularized by the Tropicália movement in the late 1960s) – has been corroded from the inside out. Artistic practices in Brazil seem to be more concerned with a dissection and alteration of systems that involve the relationships between Brazil and other countries (specifically Latin American) and a reciprocation of influence. What I can see from this viewpoint is a particularly strong process of working through.
The shape-shifting, nomadic quality of Brazilian artistic research is exemplified in projects like Recibo, a free artist-run publication focusing on the circulation of visual art actions and theoretical/political discourse. The idea-heavy publication is decidedly un-slick and has an interventionist function in the art world, with an emphasis on articles that give the reader a glimpse into critical research that provides the skeleton for artistic production (which doesn’t often share space with the end-result art).
Originally conceived by artist Traplev (Roberto Moreira Junior), Recibo takes on a curatorial function and is always a collaboration between the artist and a co-editor, often looking beyond Brazil’s borders. Editions have explored the relationships between Brazil and Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Colombia in Portuguese, Spanish, and a smattering of English.
The 3rd edition, Recibo010, edited with Nara Milioli, Paisagem portátil (Portable Landscapes), looked at the geography of urbanism and mobility. The focus on portability conceptually doubles-over the circulation of theoretical exploration and artistic practices that experimental publications like Recibo provide within the artistic landscape.
Recibo057, Malambo, is the 5th edition created as the result of a residency in Cali, Colombia and co-edited with Yolanda Chois. Through critical reflection, points of contact and overlap between the two countries are highlighted. As a consequence of the bilingual text, readers of both languages are implored to read it’s latin counterpart, opening up possibilities of new interpretations by way of imperfect translation.
The upcoming Recibo88, Sobre a noção de despesa (On the notion of expenditure), is co-edited with Teresa Riccardi. 10,000 copies will be released in February with the support of Brazil’s Ministry of Culture. A challenging undertaking to probe and poke the economic matrix, this edition takes it’s name and concept from a segment of French writer Georges Bataille’s The Accursed Share. Bataille presents an economic theory that looks at excessive and constantly outputting solar energy; the sun never receives energy in return and the end result of this surplus is in fact loss. Value, time, material, the art market, are all in a constant state of discursive questioning. Articles like Cuauhtémoc Medina and Mariana Botey’s In Defense of the Fetish (which examines the narrative of fetish worship from primitivist fetishes to sexual fetish to Western commodity fetishism) are juxtaposed with artistic projects like Cadu’s Doze meses. Over the course of a year, Cadu diligently and dramatically adjusted his energy consumption in his home, the end result of this consuming project is a simple, small arching design on his utility bill visually graphing his efforts.
If antropofagia came to prominence with Tropicália, perhaps the process now can be described as metabolizing or working through, an exercise of addressing the social, political, economic, and artistic foodstuffs that we consume everyday. Recibo takes the task of working through seriously, contributing to the dispersion of critical ideas while, importantly, acknowledging their inherent mutability.