It is necessary to have knowledge to enter the forest. Respect and caution. It is necessary to ask permission, even in a colonized and burning country, we must have respect! Everything seems so far away and, at the same time, so close. Quantum physics has already explained. And we move through space-time crossing territories, always on the verge of the final impact. From the first travelers to the megafires of 2020, the Amazon went through several cycles of “modernities,” which decisively transformed the places where they occurred. Capitalism’s strategies have their refinement of seduction and sedation. Both follow allied to colonialist practices. Sometimes it is necessary to sleep, sleep, sleep to wake up from this long sleep ready to transform, to struggle to change and build other practices; try to establish new forms of existence, permanence, resistance. Construction paths being together, all together.
It is in this scenario of successive colonial cycles that the Amazoniana Art Collection of the Federal University of Pará is born and takes roots. The result from academic research and experiences established in daily practice, based on dialogues and exchanges forged in collective and dialogical processes, Amazoniana finds its genesis in paths undertaken by different artists and researchers, who join forces to potentiate their desires and make their projects viable. Perhaps that joint practice is the embryo of this collection: the desire to create together.
The fruit of a desire to keep in the region works that are born from significant exercises in the making of artists, the collection is the result of processes of reflection and observation of art production, established in academy and subsidized by development agencies. It intends to consolidate knowledge and conserve works in this territory, using public resources for the public good. And, of course, its name is instigating if we think of Brazilianas in foreign lands, and triggers different questions about power agencies and the construction of discourses.
There is no romanticism here
What operates in the constitution of this collection is the understanding that artists exist-resist in this environment of historical complexity, because in the past we were many, we were something else. We were not Brazil, but the State of Greater-Pará and Maranhão (1751). Impossible not to think what it would have been like if…
All this historical and social complexity, located at the foot of the equator, on the outskirts of Brazil, between heat and water, with these artists who undertake their practices through their experience in the region. There is no romanticism here, but the daily struggle with life, in the friction with the world, with the latent intention of exercising this protagonism, the right to speak. Through the exercise of constant dialogue, we designed a collection that is in movement, expanding, bringing together powerful works that activate discussions and reflections on this territory, built by protagonists in the midst of the crossing. Understanding, listening and sharing with artists and their research made and are the basis of this collection. Always aware of the drives that swarm like fireflies to light up the dense and humid forest, aware of what makes sense of existence in a world in which everything is a commodity.
We must sharpen our senses, open our eyes, tear the veil that prevents us from seeing beyond. Piercing the apple of the eye as in Hagakure, by Miguel Chikaoka, the work that opened the first Amazoniana exhibition: “Amazon, Place of Experience” (2011). In the work, a light box with three photo negatives pierced by tucuman palm thorns, which cross the images of the photographer’s eyes in an invitation to review models and practices, focusing on ethical conduct, starting from the surrender of the one who serves.
At its foundation, the Amazoniana Collection was constituted with the participation of 31 artists, divided into two exhibitions, two urban interventions, such as Lucas Gouvêa and Éder Oliveira. In addition to the works in the museum, they occupied parts of the city. Oliveira would perform mural paintings and one of them shows Quintino, a famous gunman in the 1980s, who ended up joining the excluded people, being slaughtered. A mix of bandit and hero, he is a symbol of the complexity that involves the agrarian issue in the region. Also with a strong tone of social criticism, Lúcia Gomes will take part with performances and scathing urban interventions on social issues. In Nem Que L. Faça 100 Anos (Even if L. Celebrates 100 Years), a tuft of hair rests on a spoon, alluding to the young woman imprisoned in a cell with men in Pará; in another work, the artist moves a typical boat of the region to the landfill in Belém and there she develops actions with the community of collectors and guests. Armando Queiroz, integrating this first moment, makes a clipping of his project about the Serra Pelada gold diggers and appears in his videoperformance Midas, full of metaphors. Devouring and devoured, like the toothless mouths in the molds of miners’ dental arches presented in Ouro de Tolo (Fool’s Gold), gilded with fake gold.
Multiple counter-hegemonic narratives appear in these and other works present in Amazoniana, such as Coleta do Orvalho (Dew Gathering) and other performances by Grupo Urucum, from Macapá; and also in the works of Thiago Martins de Melo, Dirceu Maués, Patrick Pardini, Raquel Stolf, Victor de La Rocque, Rubens Mano and Roberto Evangelista, the latter with his ecological filmic manifesto Mater Dolorosa – In Memoriam II, will address ancestry and violence – which never stopped happening in this equatorial zone. Alexandre Sequeira, Maria Christina, Jorane Castro, Cláudia Leão, Luciana Magno, Patrick Pardini, Rubens Mano, Danielle Fonseca and Oriana Duarte depart from events in specific places to build their narratives in the immersion of experience. Duarte will set up his Barco (Boat) installation in the middle of the Ver-o-Peso market and drink his stone soup. Watching the video of the performance at the Souvenirs Cabinet, Sopa de Pedra (Stone Soup) gives us the dimension of a ululating Belém from the # 1998s.
Numerous experiments in which the image still triggers affections, memories and stories. Melissa Barbery builds a garden of luminous objects to discuss nature’s consumption and disposal; Roberta Carvalho will project the faces of riverine dwellers into the landscape; he landscape is crossed and also re-signified in images such as those drawn by Acácio Sobral on photographs and in a mini-installation by Val Sampaio, O Jogo (The Game), or Para Que Servem os Amigos? (What Are Friends For?) Perhaps a hint is in the object, an ordinary drinking glass by Armando Queiroz, which invites the visitor with its title: Aparelho para Escutar Sentimentos (Device to Listen to Feelings); those erupt in the images of Elza Lima, Octávio Cardoso and Luiz Braga, revealing different facets of the local peoples which imply respect and complicity. The sessions of Invisíveis Prazeres Cotidianos (Invisible Daily Pleasures), by Jorane Castro, at Cinema Olympia – the oldest in operation in the country –, ended this set of shows. The film brought together bloggers in order to try to recompose, through their eyes, a city of memory through fragments and pieces of other people’s visions.
Afinal, Somos Todos Invisíveis (After all, We Are All Invisible), claims Keyla Sobral’s red led – aren’t we? Now we no longer depend on eyes to take the lead, we do our own uprising, our visibility. Silent, the phrase echoes and reverberates in its bouncing red light on other screaming images, such as the works of Milton Guran, Anna Kahan, Sávio Stoco, Paula Sampaio, Éder Oliveira and Nayara Jinknss, which find others by Victor de La Rocque, Nina Matos and Luciana Magno, who revisit the images of travelers; Danielle Fonseca, who surfs a piano, and Paulo Meira, who crosses islands and stitches memories into fish heads. We can see how Marise Maués looks impressive in the middle of a stream, where she remains motionless for about seven hours, testing the limits of her own body, following the rhythm of the flood and ebb, her body-river, her body-forest, her body-time; or how Juliana Notari also presents this limit-body in a performance on Marajó Island, where she is tied to a buffalo and is dragged by it on a beach and, the next day, in a more poignant moment, she eats the raw testicle of the animal that was castrated. Also in situations that strain limits, we have Rafael Matheus Moreira, with his transvestite portraits, and Giuseppe Campuzano and Carlos Pereyra, with performance oriented towards the photo Dolorosa (Painful), beyond the normalized body, the re-body.
There is also the participation of very significant works for narrative construction, such as those by Oswaldo Goeldi, Kurt Klagsbrunn, Aloísio Carvão, Osmar Dilon and Jair Júnior, arriving at Zero Cruzeiro, by Cildo Meireles, and O NÃO PAÍS – Adita-Adura (The non-country – dictate-orship), by Cristovão Coutinho, which affects us because it is strong and current: a Brazilian flag where the absence of the blue circle that represents the states and of the slogan “Order and Progress”, seems to announce dark, full of tension, irreversible times. It is a wakening call for a reaction, a trace of a future uprising in a piece conceived in 1985. In those works, we have various facets of views on the region, in images that imply respect, complicity, taking a stand.
The body and its performative distensions also appear in the works of Cia. Moderna de Dança, in those by Emerson Munduruku, with his Uýra Sodoma, an ecological drag entity, and in Rafael Bqueer’s Sereias Superzentai (Superzentai Mermaids). Allyster Fagundes, Bianca Levy and Edivânia Câmara Ilundê perform and transcend mythical creatures. Guy Veloso brings with his insurgent images faith and fantasy, just like the fantastic story of the bird by Walda Marques, with her characters from a surreal Amazon. In Deslendário Amazônico (Amazonian Unlegendary), multiple perspectives add up in reviews and criticism and we come across our own portrait, as in Elieni Tenório’s bust, Eu, Índia (Me, Indian), in which the artist subverts the importance of this type of sculptural object to, in her self-portrait, elevate the identity of so many indigenous and mestizos who inhabit this environment.
Amazoniana encompasses crossovers, perspectives and heterogeneous visions of a region that is multiple. This pluralism that affirms the existence-resistance of an artistic activity within the Amazon, from different Amazons. What matters to us is this flow and exchange of knowledge, of a pictorial look, a performative look, as in the work of Rafael Matheus Moreira, who returns to Amazoniana like others, constituting flows in its creation processes, based on a reflection on the emblematic painting of the Belém foundation. In it, the artist presents the dead colonizer in the arms of the iaras, hit by the arrow of a native woman of the paradise on fire, presenting an insubordinate and political body that tensions the present.
What do these works have in common with the theses, photographs, artist books in the ]Arquivo[ Amazoniana (Amazoniana Archive)? It goes through a collective process of museological qualification through a partnership with the Tainacan Project and its entire team. In this context, broadening the perspective, we have museologist Paola Maués, as well as students Guido Elias, Moema Correa, Thais Palheta, Joel Silva and Letícia Carvalho, who join so many other research partners with whom we have established exchanges, such as Bernardo Baía, Christian Bendayan, Carmen Palumbo, Marcela Cabral, Marisa Mokarzel, Paulo Herkenhoff, Rosangela Britto, Sávio Stoco, Susane Pinheiro, Tadeu Costa and Yorrana Maia.
There are several angles in multiple views of the Amazon. The Good Savage got tired of being servile. We just want to exist in our ways of life. White men will understand little. Capitalism does not allow it.
Maybe a question mark stays here, the desire to connect, to think about all this potential of construction on the edges of power, to break everyday colonial practices, in a place that once had power, that was not Brazil and that needs to decolonize. So, bewilderment is necessary; to assert that there is not a single center, and between approximations and disagreements, between actions and frictions, to find out this place, with these multiple Amazons, and to build a Common. Perhaps this place of hard work and affectionate dream is the Amazoniana, a place of thought being together.