Desmedida [Unmeasured], thus materialized, is an expository prelude to the most diverse ruminations and lucubrations; travels and prospections; documents and images; re-significations and artistic strategies for an exorbitant and contemporary imaginary of Brazil - still open, fissured and in permanent construction. Latent is the desire to uncover an excessively complex landscape and territory; congenitally incomplete and diverse, but effectively transformed beyond that unified project of Brazilian civilization in the XX century.
In these landscapes, one discovers a Brazil made today, approached from the unhealed wounds of the past to the complexity of realities unknown to the city’s gaze. Or rather, realities that are not experienced and considered by the political proselytizing of a deep crisis that pervades us in the urban spaces of visibility, to which we are exposed and for which we act. Yes, we are an eminently urban country, but little reconciled with the immensity of its land, its people, and its historical and cultural strengths. The focus here lies, unmeasured, through art, precisely upon that which is invisible to us.
Desmedida [Unmeasured] is fundamentally an appropriate title, from the book Desmedida, by the writer and filmmaker Ruy Duarte de Carvalho (1941-2010). He – an Angolan-Portuguese who ventured across Brazil through a gaze that has become foreign – establishes a poetic and critical perspective of a symbolically infinite journey that joins together a route between Luanda, Angola; São Paulo Brazil; San Francisco (the river and the border areas) and then returns to its point of origin. If indeed there is an origin and an end, or if one is dealing with a permanent sinuous and circular shifting to which we are conditioned, remains open.
If literature was the starting point for a chronicle and poetic account of a foreigner – incidentally, a fact already recurrent in our history since the first travellers, scientists and artists –; from the visual, poetic and documentary we have the temporal and aesthetic landmark fiction film Viajo porque preciso, volto porque te amo [I travel because I need, I return because I love you] (2009), by Karim Aïnouz and Marcelo Gomes. If one is the chronic and history of a permanent displacement of discovery of the geographic place that is the São Francisco River, and surrounding areas, the other is a film that reconfigures the Brazilian plastic landscape, having as a guideline the narrative of a character in motion against himself in the territory of today’s hinterlands. However, the two also act with their roles reversed. This duality, coupled with the permanent confrontation between the intimate and the universal, the micro and the macro, abundance and scarcity, sunlight and darkness, development and abandonment, construction and ruin, seems to be the power of these apprehensions of the sensible reality, going against the grain of official, heroic and positivist history.
Desmedida [Unmeasured], in fact, is a common symptom of several initiatives of contemporary art in Brazil that, since the late 2000s, overflow with this continuously confronted dual condition. The most notable are the productions by André Penteado (São Paulo, 1970), Daniel Frota (Rio de Janeiro, 1988), Haroldo Saboia (Fortaleza, 1985), João Castilho (Belo Horizonte, 1978), Karim Aïnouz 1966), Marcelo Gomes (Recife, 1963), Regina Parra (São Paulo, 1981), Romy Pocztaruk (Porto Alegre, 1983) and Tuca Vieira (São Paulo, 1974); all of which start with an initial push from what symbolically lies west for us, sometimes invisible, sometimes concealed, but in continuous circular flow.
These are works that illustrate and problematize realities and fictions in the light of an imaginary constructed during the last two decades of the XXI century. Each artist, in his/her own way, causes a type of movement or transience: from the exuberant and extinct Atlantic forest to the cosmos of the hinterlands and its multiplicity; from the current migrations in search of survival and work to the transient adventures of rediscovery, experience and enchantment; from the transamazonian ruin to the transposition of the São Francisco river; from the French civilizational, cultural and scientific mission to the developmental and cultural globalization.
For now, urged by the imbalance and deconstruction of historical certainties, the visitor is summoned to this prelude, an essay on the vastness and abyss of all that is unknown, keeping in mind the idea that “time hides the best, far away, but right in here.”2
1 CARVALHO, Ruy Duarte de. Desmedida: Luanda, São Paulo, São Francisco e Volta. Rio de Janeiro: Língua Geral, 2010. p. 67.
2 Initial verses of the song Trilhos Urbanos by Caetano Veloso.