Brazilian Interventionist Art in the Midst of Mass Culture: Challenging? Negotiating? Or Infiltrating? Cultural Appropriations as Aesthetic Strategy

By Denise Carvalho Bergstrom.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Paralleled to methods and processes of articulation intrinsic in Brazilian culture, interventionist art has become a tool for critical distance, anarchic political action, and to create subtle shifts in the oligarchic monopoly of media culture. Although culture and politics have often been linked throughout modernist Brazilian history—in the demonstrations of the Week of Modern Art in 1922, in the anthropophagic manifesto in 1928, in the Concrete project in the 1950s, and Neo-concretism in the 1960s—it was only in the 1960s, during the military dictatorship, that a more explicit expression of activist art was popularly experienced as subversive resistance against the status quo. In their manifestations of resistance, contemporary Brazilian artists created an art that became increasingly inscribed by social and political situations rather than a representation of these situations, articulating the social polarities within cultural production itself. In the 1990s, a similar mobilization in the arts reemerged, but now a new generation of artists perceived differently their relations with the institution. Instead of resisting the infamous institution, they decided to collaborate with it, creating interdependent ways of rearranging critical culture. Their educational background has also shifted from the canons of art history to the canons of communication technology and media arts. The work of collectives helped to push concepts such as anonymity and immediacy further, challenging Western canons of art history grounded on the autonomy of aesthetic form, and more current links between the auteur and discourse. These concepts have been inverted by global technologies, by the two-folded relationship between visual culture and communication. Having become aware of the subtlety of these mechanisms, Interventionist artists have attempted to redefine discursive processes through performative articulations, fostering collective processes of communication that are rooted on mechanisms of insertion, circulation, and the absorption of visual excess.

Keywords: Brazilian Contemporary Art

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.81-92. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.077MB).

Dr. Denise Carvalho Bergstrom

Adjunct Professor in Art History, Department of Art, Division of Art History, Humboldt State University, Arcata, California, USA

My work encompasses art practices, art criticism, curating, and writing scholarly and creatively. My scholarly research has been shaped around global perspectives of art, particularly on Brazilian contemporary art, and on international interdisciplinary art and new media. Among my recent research in art theory are: artworks drawing from mechanisms and strategies of media cultures (e.g., dissolution, diffusion, persuasion, articulation, etc.); artworks using intersectionist theory as a peripheral dynamics to those of dialogical practices; my work on recent shifts in mimesis and connectedness; and recent writings on new discursive methods in teaching.


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