Accepted Paper:

Modernity and tradition in the representations of Brazil at Magiciens de La Terre  

Author:

Amelia Correa (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation will look upon the Brazilian delegation selected by the curators of the legendary exhibition Magicien de la Terre that took place in Paris in 1989 and reflect upon the representations and meanings of their ethnographic and contemporary works that were on display.

Paper long abstract:

Much has been written about the legendary exhibition Magicien de la Terre that took place in Paris in 1989, blowing the boundaries between art and artifacts and bringing together artists from all over the world. It has received a lot of criticism for exoticising non-western artists, but was also referenced as marking the beginning of a 'global art' era. This presentation will look at the Brazilian delegation selected by the curators and reflect upon the representations and meanings of their works that were on display. The exhibition was composed by artworks classified by the curator as being either magic or contemporary, division that in most cases corresponded respectively to non-westerns and westerns producers. Two of the three Brazilians selected were showing "ethnographic" works: Mestre Didi, from Salvador, presented elements associated with the orishas and candomblé. Besides being an artist, he was also a religious authority. Ronaldo Pereira Rego also showed works representing the Afro-Brazilian religion. The third was the conceptual artist Cildo Meireles, with an installation that thematized the extermination of indigenous populations by European missionaries. This presentation will explore how the selection of the Brazilians combined an exoticized view of the country with a contradictory critique of colonialism, made possible by the selection of ethnographic and contemporary artworks. In that way, Brazil was depicted as combining tradition and modernity, under the thematic umbrella of religion.

Panel P048
The Future of Anthropological Representation: Contemporary Art and/in the Ethnographic Museum