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Afro-Atlantic Histories

The collective exhibition “Histórias afro-atlânticas” brings together, in a historical unprecedented partnership, two of the most important cultural institutions in São Paulo: MASP and Instituto Tomie Ohtake. This is the consequence of the “Histórias mestiças” (Mestizo Histories), realized in 2014, at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, curated by Adriano Pedrosa and Lilia Schwarcz, who also are also the curators for this new exhibit, together with Ayrson Heráclito and Hélio Menezes, guest curators, and Tomás Toledo, assistant curator.

 

“Histórias afro-atlânticas” presents over 400 pieces by more than 200 artists, from the MASP collection as well as from Brazilian and international collections, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, films, videos, installations, and photographs, as well as documents and publications, and African, European, Latin and North-American, Caribbean art, among others. The loans came from some of the most important private, museum and institutional collections around the globe, among which: Metropolitan Museum, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Menil Collection, Houston; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; National Portrait Gallery, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Gallery of Denmark (SMK), Copenhagen; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, Cuba; and National Gallery of Jamaica.

 

The show is organized around central themes, some of which were already present in “Histórias mestiças”. At MASP, the themes are: Mapas e margens (Maps and margins); Vida cotidiana (Daily life); Festas e religiões (Celebrations and religions); Retratos (Portraits); Modernismos afro-atlânticos (African-Atlantic Modernisms); Rotas e transes: África, Jamaica, Bahia (Routes and trances: Africa, Jamaica, Bahia). And at Instituto Tomie Ohtake: Emancipações (Emancipations); Ativismos e resistências (Activism and resistance). Within each theme, different artistic movements, geographies, times and materials are stressed and confronted, without any chronological, encyclopedic or retrospective obligations. “Histórias afro-atlânticas” seeks to offer a panorama of the various possible histories concerning bilateral exchanges – cultural, symbolic, artistic etc. – represented in images from Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.

 

It is important to emphasize that Brazil is a key territory in these histories, for it received around 40% of all enslaved Africans that were taken from their countries during more than 300 years in order to serve as slaves on this side of the Atlantic (a sum that adds up to twice the amount of Portuguese people who came to colonize the country). In a perverse way, Brazil was also the last nation to officially abolish slavery, in 1888, through the “Lei Áurea”, which celebrates its 130th anniversary this May.

 

“Histórias afro-atlânticas” is organized independently and in a non-linear set-up between both institutions; there is no right order to visit it. At Instituto Tomie Ohtake, there will be two rooms dedicated to the exhibition; at MASP, all temporary exhibition spaces will be occupied.

AT INSTITUTO TOMIE OHTAKE:

EMANCIPAÇÕES (Emancipations) – this theme aims to show how, from the enslaved men and women, slavery was always understood as a transitory condition, preceding freedom. The representation of slavery, thus, is directly associated with uprisings, rebellions and the formation of “Quilombos” (settlements founded by freed or escaped slaves), that is, associated with its inseparable reverse: the fight for freedom.

 

ATIVISMOS E RESISTÊNCIAS (Activism and Resistance) – being one’s own, disobeying authority, is the motto that inspires this theme, taking as example the instabilities and uprisings in Haiti, the first country to abolish slavery. It intends to associate different geographies and times regarding African-Atlantic activist movements, with special attention to slavery resistance practices, the fight for civil rights, the fight against racism, religious rituals, and counter-narratives that empower and create spaces for black sociality.


AT MASP:

MAPAS E MARGENS (Maps and Margins), VIDA COTIDIANA (Daily life), FESTAS E RELIGIÕES (Celebrations and Religions), RETRATOS (Portraits), MODERNISMOS AFRO-ATLÂNTICOS (African-Atlantic Modernisms), ROTAS E TRANSES: ÁFRICA, JAMAICA, BAHIA (Routes and trances: Africa, Jamaica, Bahia) .






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