Waterfalls of Iguaçu. Photo: Disclosure

As part of the internationalization plan promoted by the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris to form partnerships in other countries, its first platform in Latin America can now be created, more precisely in the city of Foz do Iguaçu, in the western region of the state of Paraná, taking advantage of the immense tourist flow to the natural beauties of the Iguaçu Falls. Since the 1980s, museums in some countries have become art and cultural spearheads to reaffirm themselves in different parts of the world, socialize their collections and, at the same time, balance their income. Not coincidentally, in 1981, Jack Lang, French President François Mitterrand's Minister of Culture, declared: “Culture is France's oil”.

The initiative to seek cooperation with Pompidou came from the government of Paraná due to the characteristics of the french institution, founded in 1977. The signing of the protocol of intentions took place at the Executive Center of Itaipu Binacional. The company is a partner in the initiative. The event was attended by the governor of Paraná, Ratinho Júnior, and by the Brazilian director general of Itaipu, Anatalício Risden Junior.

Talks started two years ago. Architect Luciana Casagrande Pereira, Culture Superintendent of the State of Paraná, recalls that many virtual meetings were held due to the pandemic, being the only one in person when she traveled to Paris. “Pompidou was chosen for its multidisciplinary character focused on the visual arts, but also on cinema, theater, dance and music”.

The international museum will be built in Foz do Iguaçu, 17 kilometers from the Falls, in the same region where five of the 15 largest food cooperatives in the world are located. “Foz do Iguaçu receives around two million tourists a year. If half of this contingent stays one more day to do cultural tourism, the estimate is that more than R$ 400 million a year will be injected into the local economy. Culture and development go hand in hand”, says the governor of Paraná.

Centre Pompidou
Center Georges Pompidou. Photo: Steven Zucker / Creative Commons

Foz do Iguaçu emerged as a natural destination for the museum because it is in the region of the Brazil-Paraguay-Argentina triple border and because it has the Iguaçu Falls, an attraction that has long motivated the development of considerable tourist infrastructure in the place. “The hotel chain has been operating for decades, and the region still has three international airports: Foz do Iguaçu, Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) and Puerto Iguazu (Argentina), through which most European tourists arrive. ”, says Luciana.

There are similarities between the cultural decentralization programs in Paraná and the Pompidou Center. "O Oscar Niemeyer museum, which turns 20 years old, has an extended platform in the city of Cascavel, in addition to promoting traveling exhibitions throughout the state. O Paranaense Museum, from 1876, one of the oldest in Brazil, will have an extension in all regions of the state by the end of this year”. Art and management are Luciana's beach, which has always been dedicated to the visual arts. She presided over the Curitiba International Art Biennial for ten years, and as a result she was able to closely follow the evolution of contemporary art. “Art is in my DNA, and for me this project is a lovely idea. The Pompidou partnership in Foz do Iguaçu will certainly be different from that formed with other cities, due to cultural peculiarities and local and temporal circumstances.” Pompidou has some antennas around the world: Shanghai (China), Malaga (Spain), Brussels (Belgium) and Metz (France). With this, it can circulate its expressive collection of more than 120 thousand works, of which only 10% are exposed on the walls of its headquarters in Paris. For some time now, the French museum has been studying the installation of a platform in Latin America. And, apparently, that moment has arrived.
The Foz de Iguaçu museum does not yet have a name and the initial idea is that the building will have 10 thousand square meters, but as Luciana says, everything can change. “When we start to define the concept, the space may have to be expanded. We are starting the process of choosing the place, which will only take place, and by mutual agreement, when our partners know these places”.

Meetings should continue between the Paraná and French teams for the next ten months. After the execution of the first conceptualization and planning phase, an architectural competition will be launched to choose the project for the international museum, in the first half of 2023. “What interests us is that the project is related to the place”, emphasizes Luciana. “We have not yet defined the criteria for the competition that will choose the project, but Brazil is at the forefront of world architecture and we are sure that we will be able to choose a project that is worthy of this initiative. All this we will define in agreement with our partner”.

The expectation in Paraná is that the presence of Pompidou in Foz do Iguaçu is not limited to an isolated initiative. Superintendent Luciana says that it will enhance its surroundings, encouraging the entire cultural production chain. In the future, the creation of an open-air museum is also planned, involving the municipalities bordering the lake of Itaipu.

FROM THE BUILDING TO THE COLLECTION, POMPIDOU ATTRACTS

Like the Eiffel Tower, at the end of the 19th century, the Georges Pompidou Center building provoked intense controversy among the French when it was inaugurated in the historic Marrais district, in 1977, very close to Rivoli Street. The design by Italian architects Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini and British architect Richard Rogers – a rectangular box, with a steel and glass structure, pipes and apparent escalators – contrasts in everything with the Haussmannian surroundings of central Paris.

It took time to absorb so much boldness and even elevate it: today, the Pompidou Center is considered one of the icons of high-tech architecture, a trend in the 1970s, inspired by industrial architecture. It is an effervescent place, where artists, researchers and tourists from all continents circulate.

Time has also shown that the Pompidou Center is more than just a museum. Its multidisciplinary concept hosts the National Museum of Modern Art, the Public Information Library and Ircam (Center for Music and Acoustic Research), the latter founded by renowned French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez (1925-2016). The main collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe is in the Pompidou Center, today with more than 120 thousand works. Among important names, stand out those of Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, Marc Chagall, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Frida Kahlo, Wassily Kandinsky, Yves Klein, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro and Piet Mondrian.

Chaired by Laurent Le Bon, the institution has seen its collections grow over its 45 years, both through new acquisitions and donations. The collection of monographs on art and the temporary exhibitions it holds also make the Pompidou Center a destination in the art world, with more than three million visits a year. For all these reasons, lately the museum has expanded beyond the borders of France, taking this immense repertoire of art and culture to other peoples.

PARTNERSHIP MUST EMPOWER CURITIBA BIENNIAL

For the general director of the Curitiba International Art Biennial, Luiz Ernesto Meyer Pereira, the partnership for the implementation of an international art museum in Foz do Iguaçu will strengthen and enhance the decentralization actions that the Bienal and the Government of Paraná are already undertaking. realizing. “The Bienal, in addition to taking place in the capital of Paraná, also takes exhibitions on an itinerant basis to other cities in the state, decentralizing access to art and contributing to the formation of the public.”

The Curitiba Biennial has been taking place since 1993 in Paraná and in other states and countries, such as Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, France, Italy, China and Belgium. With each edition, it brings together hundreds of artists in diverse spaces, which are not restricted to museums, cultural centers and galleries, but also invade open-air spaces with urban interventions and performances. Iconic names such as Marina Abramovic, Bruce Nauman, Dan Flavin, Louise Bourgeois, Julio Le Parc, Ai Weiwei, Richard Serra, among others, have already passed through the show, as well as emerging artists.

For Meyer Pereira, this unprecedented undertaking with
the Georges Pompidou Center, an institution also
to the training of artists and the education of the public,
will dynamize a practice that the Bienal already develops.
“We have an important educational project within each edition, which ranges from measures of inclusive action,
teacher training courses, monitored visits to exhibition spaces and publications aimed at teachers and monitors. All this should be leveraged by this partnership.”

 

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