Monday, September 2, 2013

Update of the project for Sao Paulo: Curatorial framework

Disappearance (We Are What We’ve Lost)

Within the research context of “Catastrophe and Heritage,” the OuUnPo session in Brazil will explore disappearance, a state where end is another word for transformation and where the absence is another form of being. In close collaboration with numerous Brazilian partners, a 7-day event will be created to experiment with the impalpable as a metaphor, research question and methodology.
The unique Brazilian context will allow us to look at how loss reverberates and affects the shaping of our being in the present as well as our dialogue with the past. OuUnPo members and local artists, curators, institutions and researchers will be engaged in both a theoretical and practice-based research with the aim of understanding how we perceive history in the present and how the past is constantly reactivated in the shaping of cultures. The group will approach local collections, archives in an interrogative manner, highlighting the invisible tension between absence and presence.
How do we integrate voids and vestiges to generate sense and formulate memory? How can ruptures and unending amalgamations help us to get a deeper understanding of time and temporality? To approach these questions the group will build on four central concepts. These will serve as platforms between the visiting group and the local creators and institutions and will allow for learning and creation that embraces differences and similarities among all the participants in the project.

*The residual
Sociologist Raymond Williams explains that the concept of residual is something that "has been effectively formed in the past, but is still active in the cultural process, not only and often not at all, as an element of the past, but as an effective element of the present"1. When we look at the world today we find innumerable examples. We can see how it is shaped by the fall of the South American dictatorships or the end of the Cold War as much as any current political event or movement.

*Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and the Amerindian Perspectivism
The agency of the absence and its echo in the construction of cultural identities is essential in the work of the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. Marrying the disappeared Amerindian Cosmology to post-Deleuzian philosophy, he has formulated “Perspectivism,” a concept that refers to the reciprocity of points of view between humans, animals and spirits in the Amerindian culture. Through this concept De Castro shatters the opposition between “culture” and “nature,” which is the core of Western modernity. The neutralization of this dichotomy, fundamental for the birth of anthropology as a discipline, also prompted him to reinvent anthropology as such. His theory is therefore essential for any discussion on disappearance in the Brazilian context.
The European colonization of Brazil marked a fracture of the space-time continuum, an apocalypse that caused the end of the Indigenous world. Nevertheless spores of lost indigenous cosmologies slowly re-emerged in new hybrid forms in traditions, beliefs and practices that hold great potential for rediscovery and creation. These amalgamations deepen and transform our comprehension of finitude and we are pushed to reflect on what residuals can perform on a more unconscious level.

*Brazilian modernism
Brazilian modernism and avant-garde offer another field of investigation where it is possible to perceive a reactivation of the repressed. Particularly in movements such as Anthropofagia and Tropicalismo the reinterpretation of indigenous wisdom and philosophy is essential for the creation of a new self-awareness and vision of the world. These artistic movements rehabilitated forms of knowledge that can be seen as deviant and tangential to the European modernist canon. Viveiros de Castro shows that they operate differently from the Western system of knowledge, whose aim is objectivity and universality. The Amerindian knowledge on the other hand is always subjective and rooted in the coexistence of different and multiple perspectives. The idea of appropriation and transformation, which characterizes the cannibal rituals of Brazilian indigenous population have been rethought in both Anthropofagia and Tropicalismo and discloses the potential of becoming both as a philosophical and historical notion. Following this line of thought further questions arise: What has become of (Brazilian) modernism today? How does it shape our lives today and what can be learned from the experiences of the modern?

*Architecture without Archeology
Against the backdrop of these reflections, we can see how the residual unravels hidden agencies. It allows us to rebuild memories and identities as architectures without archeology. Orphans of master narratives, the ruins of neglected histories exist and resist outside the archives. OuUnPo, together with their Brazilian partners will untangle their potential in minor and non-linear narratives through a curated series of events that bring a rich variety of disciplines and perspectives into the arena of contemporary art. OuUnPo will therefore rediscover forgetting and remembering as parts of a dynamic dialogue, or formulated differently:
Are We What We've Lost?

Sara Giannini
Amsterdam, 30.07.2013

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