‘Contrafogos’ – Reviews of group exhibition in Pelotas, Brasil. May-June 2017

Review from Brazilian news outlet Diário Popular, posted 11 May 2017:

Problems of contemporaneity are debated in the works of 12 artists who are part of the Contrafogos exhibition.
By: Max Cirne

When globilization develops perverse effects and economic forces become intransigent, the needs and priorities of most of the world do not take precedence, especially if they interfere with the sovereignty of the ruling classes. From this perspective, two artists have devised an opposition project: the exhibition Contrafogos – Resistance to the neoliberal invasion, which brings together critical and political artworks in the basement of the Public Library of Pelotas (BPP).

In a partnership between Brazil and Spain, Priscila Oliveira (from Pelotas) and visual artist Mechu Lopez Bravo (from Girona) curated works from several countries. Different media, such as video, print, painting and collage, were used to reflect on the current situation, based on political instability, suppression of rights and the rise of oppressive leaders.

Worrying reality

The concept present in the exhibition is based on articles by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu in the book “Contrafogos – Tactics to deal with neoliberalism” (published in English as “Acts of Resistance – Against the Tyranny of the Market”) . The texts, according to the curators, address the commitment of intellectuals not to be silent, passive, about social changes, about what is happening in the world. “It is a counter-struggle, in the sense of civil deobedience, of direct confrontation, because that is our weapon, our artistic production,” Priscila argues.

To validate this thought, the curator gathered a group of questioning artists, who are concerned in their daily lives – and in their visual poetics – with the repression of neoliberalism. This is the case of Britain’s Noah Rose, who tackles state terrorism as a way of monitoring the population. The Brazilian Roberto Moreira Junior, or Traplev, produces collages which show the violence committed by police in demonstrations.

Meanwhile, Rogério Marques uses in his artistic practice videos published on the internet that explain how to mount homemade firearms. Also from public material is worth Juliano Ventura, who collects phrases from advertising pieces of products in general and contrasts with the disclosures of the own federal government, in order to show how much this is a business.

The curious matchboxes of Pablo Paniagua, offer “100 possibilities of flames and insurgencies”. In a similar vein Camila Soato understands such irony well as revealed in her sarcastic paintings in which she puts in check the traditional concept of family. In the same vein, André Winn, from Pelotas, criticizes the fact that the population is summarized by voracious consumers. For this, he presents a children’s literacy primer with the letters and logos of brands such as McDonald’s, Nike, Unilever, Wall-Mart and others.

Works by Spaniards Sergi Selvas and Núria Güell, from Argentina by Carolina Chocron, from Pernambuco by Marie Carangi and from São Paulo Bruna dos Anjos, performance took place at the opening on Tuesday at 9 at night.

Touring itinerary:

Altogether, Contrafogos presents works by artists from Spain, England, Argentina and Brazil. It will be an evolving project, adding more work as it travels. The next destinations are Uruguay and Argentina. There is also the intention to take the show to Europe, where one of the curators resides.

What: collective exposition: “Contrafogos – Resistance to the neoliberal invasion”

When: until June 9, with visits on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

Where: Public Library of Pelotas, Brasil.


Review from Brazilian news outlet Diário de Manha de Pelotas, posted 10 May 2017:

International collective exhibition “Contrafogos”, opens this Tuesday at 19.00 in the Museum of the Public Library of Pelotas (Brasil).

By Carlos Cogoy

In Spain, since 2012 the “Gag Law” has affected freedom of expression. And even sitting on the sidewalk, can be considered a ‘Demonstration’ that can be curbed. This is just one of the symptoms of the neoliberal offensive, which has breached democratic rights in several countries. The idea of ​​the state, minimising public policies, scrapping public institutions to privatize them, as well as extinguishing rights, arrived with force in Brazil a year ago. In the Temer “government”, the so-called reforms seek to shrink social rights, and in addition, they attack Social Security, making it difficult to retire.

It is this context that sharpens the exploration of artists who havecreated acts of resistance in different languages.  The international collective exhibition “Contrafogos: acts of resistance to the neoliberal invasion” in the Museum of the Public Library of Pelotas this Tuesday at 19.00.
The curation of this exhibition brings together the visual artist Priscila Costa Oliveira, who graduated from UFPel, and the Catalan/ Argentinian artist Mechu Lopez Bravo. The exhibition contains works by Brazilian artists Bruna dos Anjos, Andre Winn, Camila Soato, Juliano Ventura, Marie Carangi, Pablo Paniagua, Xose Quiroga, Rogério Marques and Traplev. International artists include Carolina Chocron (Argentina), Noah Rose (England), Sergi Selvas (Spain), Núria Güell), Xose Quiroga and Daniela Ortiz (Catalonia).

The opening will include a performance “The walls of the absurd” by Bruna dos Anjos. There will also be a debate with Professor Renata Requião (UFPel). Through videoconference, Rogério Marques will talk about “Diversions”.  From Europe, Mechu Lopez Bravo will discuss “The kidnapped democracy and the processes and strategies of manipulation of power”.  Programming with the support of Dan Barbier. He adds that the exhibition will be at the Museum of the Public Library in Pelotas. The production is from the CKCO agency, and the exhibition will be open until 9th June.

RESISTANCE – Contemporary art questioning the new wave of conservativism. Priscila tells how the partnership with the Catalan Mechu Lopez Bravo came about:

“In 2015 I was invited by Mechu Lopez Bravo to participate with the project ‘Sit at the door’ at the Art Cluster exhibition – ‘STRICT – State terrorism, institutional violence and control mechanisms’ In Girona in Spain. In addition to myself, participating Brazilian artsist were Cristiano Araújo and Rogério Marques.

Me and Mechu kept in touch and I wanted to bring the Art Cluster exhibition to Brazil. However, when we began to talk about how to make it happen, national and world events eventually led us on another path. So we asked ourselves: what is the responsibility of intellectuals and artists in these events? And what tactics and weapons can we create and use to defend ourselves, to oppose neoliberalism, the idea of ​​a minimal state that kills and makes people sick and which has more and more followers. We focus on the resistance to a kind of corporate policy, control and surveillance that goes from subjective and subtle actions of manipulation to brute force actions. And we look for artists who create tensions and contradictions in these places.

Mechu has brought artists from Spain, Argentina and England, artists with whom she has already had contact, and who have faced the oppressive structures in those countries for years. I looked for Brazilian names that could broaden the debate in its various layers, such as the media, politics, education, social movements, economics. At every contact with the artists the exhibition was being built and transformed. The initial name was ‘[R] of resistance’. There was a redirection of discussion and approach, as well as a preference for other artists. I think we have matured the idea of ​​resistance. I began to question whether art institutions were, in fact, no mere part of a basic mechanism of Western society, which neutralizes the opposition, by the existence of an apparently radical critique, against a system in which art is often appropriated and transformed into conformity.

Or, as the German philosopher Herbert Marcuse once said, ‘museums are a playground for artists’, almost always isolated from the public. The institution serves simply to pacify rebellious tendencies in society, which have been channeled to art as the only legitimized sphere of critical articulation in Jens Hoffmann’s interpretation. Then, Mechu suggested reading the book ‘ContraFogos – tactics to face the neoliberal invasion’ of Pierre Bourdieu of 1998 (Published in English as: “Acts of Resistance – against the tyranny of the market”). We sent the book to our team and artists. Hence we decided to change the name of the exhibition to ‘ContraFogos’, because the symbolic dimension is extremely important. And as Bourdieu says: ‘We deal with opponents who are armed with theories and. It is, as it seems to me, right to confront them with intellectual and cultural weapons. ‘”