Braziliality is a not-for-profit, cross-cultural experiment; showcasing artwork from both contemporary Brazilian artists and international artists who have been inspired by the country. The aim is to support new talent and to create a 360-degree perspective of the influence which contemporary Brazilian art and culture holds across the world.
Set in the light and futuristic space at Forman’s, there is a conscious mix of artistic media in the chosen work; including photography, painting, illustration and installation pieces. During the opening weekend these physical artworks were accompanied by contemporary Brazilian music and dance performances, creating a thorough immersion within the exhibition’s central theme.
Saturday’s viewing was headlined by innovative Brazilian dance project Natema, which combines traditional Brazilian folk music and with modern electro.
The group have been named by the Independent as one of the ‘10 best gigs in London’. Combining recorded studio sound with live performance of traditional Brazilian instruments, the group is famed for their spectacular visual displays, including dancing, costume, masks and multimedia recordings.
For Natema, it is important for projects like Braziliality to show the true diversity of Brazilian art and culture.
‘Brazil’s increasing popularity can lead to the commercialisation and distortion of our culture. It’s easy to mislead people in this way. We mix the two cultures but we don’t present ourselves as a ‘samba’ band. We are very much a London project with strong European influences.’
Some of Brazil’s most familiar imagery can be seen within the exhibition; from a cardboard cut out of Sao Paulo’s iconic skyline, to exploration of the country’s famed graffiti culture, to a collection of work by photojournalist Bruno Figueiredo, presenting life within the favelas.
Though the exhibition celebrates Brazilian culture, there is often a sense of displacement in the art selected. This is evident not only in the work of international artists who are observing as outsiders, but also in pieces by Brazilian artists who are now viewing that culture indirectly or from a distance.
Artist, journalist and actress Rafaela Miranda Rocha‘s You can take the girl out of Rio… examines the influence which her Brazilian heritage has had upon her vision of London through photographs taken of the Thames.
From a darker perspective, Dutch painter Karin Janssen‘s Red Flowers relates her harrowing memories of an attack upon a transvestite, which she witnessed whilst visiting Sao Paulo. The piece is comprised of three enormous canvasses, presenting the subject of the attack in disturbingly ambivalent poses hovering between aggression, seduction and pain.
Overall, the exhibition has reflective quality, moving beyond conventional views of Brazilian culture, whilst retaining a sense of its texture and vibrancy.
I Am Braziliality is at Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, Stour Road, Fish Island E3 2NT until 30 August.
More about Natema./ 6 August, 2011