The exhibition Somos Muit+s: experiments on collectivity takes up the thinking of two essential artists in the second half of the 20th century, Joseph Beuys (1921 – 1986) and Hélio Oiticica (1937 – 1980) to think about artistic practice today.
In a way, that’s what the 27th São Paulo Biennial, How to Live Together, did in 2006, which started from Oiticica’s proposals to map productions that questioned representation through the antiart proposal and sought to create collective experiences.
After thirteen years, does it make sense to keep looking for reference in Beuys and Oiticica? YEA. During this period, the art market in Brazil expanded considerably, the city’s art institutions strengthened, and the country entered a war against culture. Thus, the radical proposals of art are still more necessary, but are still exercised in a few spaces. However, they are the oxygen of the system and as such essential to understanding what art can mean today.
While visiting the show, I heard a gaucho–accented lady comment with her friend as she read about the Cuban artist Tania Bruguera’s Useful Art project: “No wonder there is so much persecution of art in recent times, because what she [a artist] wants is change, ”she said emphatically, as if seeking approval. Impossible not to have empathy. It is even a relief to realize that even just in a state of power, since Bruguera’s work was not being activated, she made it clear that the business there is not just entertainment.
It makes perfect sense to resume Beuys because after all it is one of the most important artistic proposals, defended since 1977, as read in the text Entry into a living being, reproduced in the catalog of the exhibition, which states: “Every human being is an artist, because he experience the creative essence itself, the formative essence that relates to all the problem fields of life, all the fields in which this human being moves”.
This is the key to a still unexplored thought, which is the understanding that art is a broad field and can unfold into several other fields. This is not absolutely groundbreaking, since Marcel Duchamp had long argued that playing chess was art, but Beuys obviously went much further.
Founder of the Green Party in Germany in 1980, an advocate of direct democracy, an ecologist, his activism has always been an important facet of his artistic activity. In the field of art, Beuys defended the idea of “social sculpture”, a strategy to reconcile artistic practice with social intervention, as occurred in Seven Thousand Oaks. In 1979, on the occasion of the Kassel Documenta, Beuys and locals planted 7,000 oaks to transform the arid German city, one of the most destroyed in World War II. Today, Kassel is an example of “social sculpture.
Beuys was also a critic of exclusion systems. He was expelled from the University of Düsseldorf in 1972 for arguing that his classes should be attended by anyone and not just those enrolled in his classes. He created Frei Internationale Universität with other colleagues in 1983 in his own studio in Düsseldorf.
As it turns out, the political and educational dimensions are essential in his thinking, but not only: he also had a view of the symbolic importance of art, and the first rooms of Somos mu + s prove this concern. In addition to drawings that accompany important issues in his work, the Sculpture Honey Bomb at Work, a machine that pumped honey through the Fridericianum Museum over the 100 days of Documenta 6 in 1977, deals precisely with the infiltration of a natural substance, fertilizer, source of life and immortality. Honey and fat are common elements of Beuys poetics. With honey he brings life and sweetens the institutions of art and, in this sense, it is to be regretted that the work is seen only as an inanimate sculpture, without actually going through the Pinacoteca.
However, the show provides other possible experiences of collectivity, such as Mauricio Ianês performance Ágora, which will be present during its three months of duration. In it, he creates a living space where he serves tea and coffee and allows visitors to manifest through the walls painted in deep red.
Already Monica Nador and the Jardim Miriam Arte Club (Jamac) are seen in a partnership with the Pinacoteca Educational Action Center with the project Extramuros, which has existed since 2008. For the show were held drawing and woodcut workshops, with the results part seen on the exhibit itself or outside the museum.
Another experience is Tania Bruguera’s School of Useful Art, which occupies a show room with intense programming throughout its 11 weeks, including a three–day workshop with the artist herself, from 9–11 October. .
Useful Art is a concept developed by Bruguera in recent years that argues that art should be able to serve as a tool for social change, capable of being implemented through long term projects, the subject matter of the last edition of ARTE! Brasileiros. Everything to do with Beuys’s proposals.
From Oiticica, the show presents the immersive Appropriation Environment (Pool Table, d’après “Van Gogh’s Night Café”), first seen in the Opinion 66 show at the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Modern Art in 1966. In it, a royal pool table is available to visitors in a space with red walls similar to Van Gogh’s painting. Thus, in addition to having coffee with Iane, visitors can also play pool at the show. There, Oiticica includes an important element in his work which is the pleasure of the game as an element for creating bonds, a transforming concept, especially in opposition to Beuys’s Germanic proposals.
In fact, Vivian Caccuri’s work in the show, Ode ao Triangulo, uses the musical instrument to create an installation about the possible elements linked to its form and function, which reverberates in dialogue with works from the collection and activations. throughout the show.
Finally, the Pinacoteca octagon is occupied by a demonstration platform, created by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija in 2000, which has been having different versions since then. It is a free space to be occupied by various activations throughout the show, from yoga classes to graduation parties. There the Collective Self Defense and Aliadxs, formed with the intention of working a poetic of the image of blackness and its social and historical developments, presents Negrx Re–existence, a poetic–political immersion and two other performances.
With all this, we are many, curated by Amanda Arantes, Fernanda Pitta and Jochen Volz puts the Pinacoteca with a living space that rethinks art and its context, as did Beuys and Oiticica in their time.