Brazil, Knife in the flesh

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Jonathas de Andrade, Educação para adultos, 2010, detail; coleção moraes–barbosa, San Paolo

With the exhibition Brazil. Knife in the flesh, PAC in Milan continues to explore continents by means of contemporary art, introducing a selection of 30 Brazilian artists spanning several generations, active from the Seventies onwards.

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Brazil. Knife in the flesh, PAC in Milan

‘Knife in the Flesh’ (Navalha na Carne) is the title of a play by Brazilian writer Plínio Marcos, particularly active during the years of the Brazilian military regime. Thus, from its very title, the exhibition declares itself to be in conflict. By means of installations, photographs, videos and performances, several of the artists invited to the PAC make reference to this conflict – which has no beginning, much less an end, is hard to sum up in words and rarely translates into physical fights or battles. A social – and above all symbolic, conflict, then, rather than a military one.

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André Komatsu, Base Hierarquica (Italia), Courtesy private collection

Gathering together a series of works created in Brazil over the past forty years, the exhibition shatters conventions and stereotypes without, however, setting out to draw a portrait of the country or its artistic scene, reflecting instead on their inherent conflict: the fights and violence, the political, social, racial, ecological and cultural abuse. A direct language that appears naïve, whilst actually pregnant with meaning as it tells of broken dreams and disappointed hopes, but also of a people capable of keeping their incredible optimism and trust in the future.

Promoted by Comune di Milano – Cultura and produced by PAC in collaboration with Silvana Editoriale, with the patronage of the Consolate General of Brazil in Milan, the exhibition is curated by Jacopo Crivelli Visconti and Diego Sileo, with the support of TOD’s, sponsor of PAC’s exhibition activity, with the contribution of Alcantara and Cairo Editore and the support of Vulcano.

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Iole De Freitas, Introvert / Penetrate – Extrovert / Penetrate, Courtesy Coleçao Moraes-Barbosa, Sao Paulo

Artists: Maria Thereza Alves; Sofia Borges; Bosquê Paloma; Jonathas de Andrade; Iole de Freitas; Daniel de Paula; Deyson Gilbert; Fernanda Gomes; Ivan Grilo; Carmela Gross; Tamar Guimarães; Maurício Ianês; Clara Ianni; Francesco João; André Komatsu; Runo Lagomarsino; José Leonilson; Ícaro Lira; Cinthia Marcelle; Ana Mazzei; Letícia Parente; Regina Parra; Vijai Patchineelam; Berna Reale; Celso Renato; Mauro Restiffe; Luiz Roque; Daniel Steegmann Mangrané; Tunga; Carlos Zilio.

Regina Parra

CAPITÃO DO MATO from reginaparra on Vimeo.

Regina Parra (1981) uses paintings, photography, and video to address issues like segregation and violence in social relations. Capitão do Mato was filmed in the Amazon Rainforest and has as a starting point a Lipaugus vociferans, a bird whose scientific name means “dark screamer” and is popularly known as “captain of the forest.” This bird inhabits mostly in Latin American forests and was considered a whistleblower, since they would start to sing in sharp shrill notes and identify runaway slaves or, as a matter of fact, the presence of any strangers. The same nickname was given to the men who were paid by farm owners and, guided by the bird’s song, walked through the woods looking for the slaves who had run away.

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In the video, we see a man going into the forest. The sound of footsteps and heavy breathing creates tension and gives us the feeling that something is about to happen. Little by little, the noise made by the “captain of the forest” becomes increasingly higher and sharper. When we finally meet the man is standing in front of a tree. Instead of fleeing or putting himself in a position of submission, as African slaves did for so many centuries, this man asserts his presence and makes the same bird sounds. The artist seeks to subvert the role of servitude and drags back into the light those relationships that are abusive and submissive, which seem to be forgotten and erased in the day to day.

Berna Reale

Berna Reale

Berna Reale (1965) lives and works in Belém do Pará, Brazil. Her work ranges between installa- tions and performances. In recent years, the artist has concentrated her research on the theme of power relations and their ability to unleash violence.

With Camouflage, Berna Reale has removed sheets or other fabrics used to cover the body of victims of violent deaths at a crime scene until the police arrived. In her performance, these sheets are paraded throughout the streets of Milan, placed on a cart pushed by the artist herself, while she wears a military uniform. Instead of featuring the classic military camouflage, the uniform uses as a pattern made of the Sarcophagidae fly, which feeds off dead animals.


Performance, Brazil. Knife in the flesh, PAC in Milan

Even though the starting point for this work is Brazil, the fact that she wears a uniform and uses crime-scene sheets —most of which come from cases related to domestic violence and places of heavy conflict— makes the debate broader and more universal. Arms dealing lobbyists, who moves billions and are able to disappear behind a smoke-screen is the true subject of Camouflage. However, Berna Reale’s work does not point a finger to the elite; it’s meant to pay tribute to thousands of decent, courageous people who have been silent and covered by a white sheet.