Coming September 1 to Phoenix Art Museum, Past/Future/Present: Contemporary Brazilian Art from the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo presents a rare panorama of the most innovative art produced in Brazil from the 1990s to the 2010s. The exhibition will be the first major presentation of objects from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo (MAM) in the U.S, counting among its objects the first-ever performance art piece in an exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum, work by an Academy-Award-nominated photographer, and a large-scale, collaborative installation that will be constructed using local labor and materials. Premiering on First Friday, and on view through December 31, Past/Future/Present will feature 70 artworks created by 59 artists in diverse media, including painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance.
“We are delighted to welcome the MAM’s extraordinary collection to Phoenix,” said Amada Cruz, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “At Phoenix Art Museum, we are committed to bringing the world to our city. Past/Future/Present is a testament not only to the extraordinary quality of the MAM’s collection, but also to the benefits enjoyed by communities near and far whenever there is successful collaboration between international institutions.”
At first glance, it may seem that the works in Past/Future/Present have little in common beyond artists of a common origin. The works range from small objects to giant installations, each unique in scope and subject matter. However, the exhibition reveals that there is much that binds these objects together conceptually. These pieces dispel stereotypes of a country often viewed through a lens of exoticism, eroticism, and violence, and the featured artists embrace the difficulties and opportunities that accompany art production in an era of globalization. Some thematic strands that tie the works together include an engagement with Brazilian history, social norms, indigenous mythologies, and national traditions in Brazilian art as well as global art trends.
Visitors will recognize these themes in works that include Laura Lima’s Palhaço com buzina reta – monte de irónicos (Clown with Straight Horn – Mountain of Ironies), the first performance piece to be featured in a Phoenix Art Museum exhibition and one that will compel viewers to become participants in making meaning, containing a “secret” which will unfold as visitors experience it in the gallery; The Descent From the Cross (After Caravaggio) by photographer Vik Muniz, whose work in a landfill near Rio de Janeiro was featured in the Academy-Award-nominated documentary Waste Land in 2011; and an installation by Marepe, a sculptor known for his interest in utilizing local materials and whose O telhado (The Roof ) will be built at the Museum with materials and labor sourced in Phoenix. While their work may differ aesthetically, the contemporary artists featured in Past/Future/Present share a commitment to honoring traditions of the past while participating in larger, global artistic discussions. This simultaneous incorporation of the past and the future speaks to a singular creative present, and has made Brazil a serious contender on the global stage of contemporary art.
“This selection of works from the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo, displays the adeptness with which Brazilian artists have adapted to the realities of globalization,” said Vanessa Davidson, PhD, the Shawn and Joe Lampe Curator of Latin American Art. “Their work is able to speak fluently in artistic languages spotlighted on the global stage at the same time that their art, imbued with uniquely local traditions, has itself become an international reference point.”
Past/Future/Present is the first opportunity in the U.S. for American audiences to experience an in-depth look at the practice of contemporary Brazilian artists now recognized as pioneers of their generation. The objects featured in the exhibition include several historical anchors from the 1970s that illustrate conceptual continuities between past and present, such as works by Waltercio Caldas, Lenora de Barros, Antonio Dias, Anna Bella Geiger, José Leonilson, Antonio Manuel, Cildo Meireles, and Carlos Zilio, among others. During the course of the exhibition, featured artists Laura Lima, Vik Muniz, and Jac Leirner will travel from Brazil to Phoenix to give public lectures on their artistic practice. Beginning in August, the Museum will also host a Past/Future/ Present film series, bringing an even wider view of Brazil to Phoenix through screenings of five films.