the name just gives it away. like some sweet fruit candy from far away. brazil, perhaps.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Bahia Desorientada, 2005, video
dominique gonzalez-foerster, Bahia Desorientada, 2005, video

the exhibit tried to capture the essence that is the tropicalia movement of the 1960s and 70s in Brazil and South America, but somehow it just fell short.

tropicalia dress installation

there's no substitute for being there, being in the moment.

i found it a little hard to believe that era happened in the first place - but i guess the tropicalia movement is what happens when you let politics starve and affect artists, ahaha. or it could be the other way around - artists seeking to give comment on the atrocities they see around them, so they produce.

antonio dias, Coração para amassar, 1966
antonio dias, Coração para amassar, 1966

i liked the show a lot because it tried to engage all your senses all at once - the colorful fashions, vinyl album covers, plays, novels, sculptures, video, a large mural leading to the exhibit, music, and an installation of tasting various colored liquids from white bowls, reminiscent of juices sold by street vendors at the time.

mural leading to the exhibit
mural leading to the exhibit, commissioned by the museum of contemporary art, chicago.

you get the feeling that the movement's color and vibrant life was derived from the artists' genuine desire for change.

there was an installation of a stuffed pig in a crate, by an artist challenging the judging done in a prestigious contest at the national level. the installation won. there are other smaller pieces, such as a metal lunch box with a yellow mold of an anonymous face in it, to call attention to better compensation for workers.

rubens gerchman, lute (fight), 1967
rubens gerchman, lute (fight), 1967

there are pieces that remind you the movement crossed all cultural, economic and racial lines - there is video and a simple installation of a street vendor's cart, selling frozen fruit juices in the summer at the height of the movement. there is a poster of a european-looking woman, and an indian-looking woman with her tattoed body and slanted eyes, both hanging onto a man with an afro. there are pieces that remind you of brazil's stifling weather, of the movement's beginnings in the laid-back beaches of rio de janeiro.

helio oiticica, eden, 1969
helio oiticica, eden, 1969

what really struck me was how hard the exhibit tried to render how the era looked, felt, sounded. i'm sure the mural on the MCA's wall entrance was a lot more vibrant, a lot more colorful, a lot more scandalous and edgy than any sort or artwork at the era's height. even then, i wished i had a whole extra hour to scale the second floor and see the exhibits there.

rivane neunenschwander, ze carioca and friends (soccer champoin), 2005
rivane neunenschwander, ze carioca and friends (soccer champoin), 2005

i didn't get the impression that the tropicalia movement was hedonistically heady and over-the-top for the sake of being hedonistically heady and over-the-top - i think the era simply burned with passion for change but also celebrated a vibrant and giddy present.

the exhibit makes its way to london in february, lisbon in july, and new york city in october.

here is a web site featuring the exhibit.

here are more pix from the exhibit:

the view of eden from the top of a two-story riser.

sensory masks



gerchman dias

antonio dias

antonio dias
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