Friday, June 12, 2015

Words and more words: Palavra project 2.2

Last night at II ELGA, I presented another iteration of Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra. Give a Word. Have a Word.) - my word exchange project. The previous iteration, presented last week at the same venue, was very popular. Since then, I have been getting many inquiries and requests for repeating the project. There are many new people here in Cabo Frio this week for the second week of the conference as this one encompasses a broader range of topics and more speakers. The event is called II ELGA (The second Latin American School of Algebraic Geometry and Applications). Mathematicians from all parts of Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Columbia, Mexico, United States and Europe are here, so there are lots of languages to compare and mix. Although it was my original intention to stick to Portuguese and English, the 40-piece letter-set can easily be used for all Latin languages. Of course, even this had to be expanded, when requests came to approximate of Chinese characters and Cyrillic letters. Last night, even a few Persian words made their way onto the cards, although these were anglicized.
Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra.
Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra. 
The more times I present Palavra the better I can see the many layers and potentials of the project. Because it is extremely simple, the project is very expandable. It’s like a game that can be repeated over and over because it makes itself anew in the playing. It even kind of looks like a game: The letter-set I made in Rio packs into a small box and thus travels well, making me consider future destinations on my itinerary where I could also perform it.
Since in this set the letter-forms were appropriated from street signage (logos, offices, graffiti, hand-scribbled signage of street vendors,etc.) I also see a potential of finding these again wherever I go and making a new set for every destination. I’ve been invited to present this at the Seattle Center this summer, which I’m looking forward to doing.

Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra. 
The words collected are an archive of the connections created, both among languages and among the participants of the project. A typical event draws people in not just for the few minutes of the actual exchange—which entails writing the word that one is giving into my ledger and, in exchange, choosing an already printed card with a word given by someone else— but people tend to hang around and watch me arranging the words and then printing them. And so we strike up fascinating conversations about the words on the table. This is the best part.

Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra. 
Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra. 
Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra. 
My role is more like that of a relay or a facilitator. It’s easy to incite conversations. We chat about everyone’s home of residence and the particulars of their native dialect. I ask each participant to pronounce and explain the word they give so that I can learn them and would be able to transmit this information to others later. Stories follow the words; one leading to another like stringing beads.

Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra.  
There are many corky words, many moments of fun, for example when learning a slang-word “cuático” (meaning an adjective that adds intensity to every noun it is used with) particular to Chile, while unknown in the other spanish-speaking South-American countries, or when the French participants compare their respective R’s between the dialect of Marseille and Paris.
Among the Portuguese words there is everything from “feijoada” (a shop that sells the staple bean-and-pork stew) to “pirilampo” (fire-fly) and “gentileza” (kindness, especially beloved by Carioca). Surprisingly, there is no math terminology, other than the word “matemática” itself (which, due to my scrambling of the letters in an attempt to make something like concrete poetry, was misread by its adopter as Italian for “mother of the short sides in the right angle triangle”).

Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra. 
We've found out that the playful-sounding “zizanie” means a “discord” in France and also in Italy, and that it comes from the Bible where the parable refers to sowing a seed of the similarly named plant, which then spreads and cannot be eradicated. Each word makes another, sometimes necessitating many brains to put the meaning together or to come up with a proper translation. Occasionally, we turn to the translator app on my phone, then debate the results. Such was the case of “fogo-fátuo” a phenomena of a quick burst of light, said to be seen in the cemeteries in Brazil, which is a result of gasses escaping. It took a while to recall the Hungarian equivalent: “lidérc.” One wonderful encounter was with an older Persian lady, who walked up to me then dramatically gestured to the sky, to the heart, and then to the ground, exclaiming “khoda” “eshgh” “hasti.” With the help of her daughter’s translation I managed to find out that she has just come up with the triad (god, love, being) as her credo on the spot.
Dar Uma Palavra. Ter Uma Palavra. 
A few people seem uncertain when approaching the table, not knowing which word to part with, as if what they give would have to be an all-encompassing symbol for something. Like handing over some kind of a precious thing. Most people stay around long or come back to see what new words come to the table. Everyone walks away smiling and holding their chosen card as if the word taken was especially meaningful, which is heart-warming to see. We talk about how languages change, how they are alive and how we create meanings and symbolism through usage. I mark every card on the back with a legible writing of the word and the date of the printing. This is another part of the recording process. The cards that are left at the end of last night will become the first cards to choose from when the project is presented next in Seattle.

My view of the ocean in Cabo Frio during the project. 
It’s been a privilege to be able to do this project now twice in a leisurely way in this beautiful environment of Cabo Frio, Brazil and with so many exceptionally brilliant people, abstract thinkers who not only speak many languages but also love geeking out on words with me.

*All images of the Palavra project appearing on this blog are copyrighted 2015. Use by permission only.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

As Riquezas (The Riches): Fresh markets, foods and snacks in Brazil

It bears no relevance with regard to my art projects but it's impossible to document living in the state of Rio de Janeiro without talking at least a bit about the foods, especially the exotic fruits available at the green market, the local snacking customs, and some widely-accessible popular street foods.

A good segue to the topic of this post is a quick note about the relationship between land and people in this area as seen by us, Pacific Northwesterners. It also has to be noted that our tiny sliver of a view cannot be generalized to encompass the entirety of Brazil, where each region has its own specific environmental resources and challenges.
Traveling around in the state of Rio de Janeiro, we’ve often wondered about the situation of nature conservancy, and the general attention that is being paid in order to preserve and maintain the natural beauty and bounty of the land and the waters. There are many areas that are designated as parks and nature preserves, which is great to see. These are generally less accessible and less developed for tourism than corresponding sites in the US. However, and maybe exactly because of the vastness of nature (and the large number of people who travel to it), there seems to be a general attitude of ignorance about litter or finite nature of environmental resources.
On the other hand, there is an overabundance of chemicals, be that in the form of generously applied cleaning products, or in case of food: pesticides and fertilizers. At Largo, our studios were cleaned by two ladies before each exhibition opening, during which time it was nearly impossible to stay in the building. The cleaning products made our eyes water and throats sting. We have been warned by many different sources not to eat leafy vegetables at all, due to the industrial farms heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers. And, of course, every day we have to slather ourselves generously with DDT to avoid mosquitos bites (there has been a high incidence of Dengue fever since we have arrived). When chatting with Ernesto Neto, he joked about the government oversight of food industry that is essentially a control of farm foods (really targeting and restricting the organic and farm-to-table movements that are just springing up in Brazil, in favor of the more industrialized production). Many friends we made here are increasingly involved with the political side of sustainability, actively exploring ways of going outside of the regulated systems and focusing on sustainable green ways of eating and, as a necessary consequence, farming and cooking.
Another interesting footnote is a news report statistics, which I saw recently, that claims that there is an increasingly growing trend of eating outside of the household. Now, the majority of city dwelling Brazilians eat daily in one of the by-the-kilo fast food restaurants or buy ready-to-warm prepared industrial meals in the supermarket. There is too much sugar and too much salt in everything. Manioc root is the main source of starch, with is used in ample quantities to thicken sauces, filling, creams and puddings and to make breads rise into a fluffy white cloud (a cheese laden version of which is “pão de queijo”, cheese bread).

But with some time devoted to exploring, one can find lots of exotic discoveries and local curiosities in the niches, many of these are an exception from the general issues mentioned above. The best place to look is at the local fresh markets, one of which is being virtually every day of the week in a different neighborhood in Rio. Markets open at 7am and go until about 2-3pm, with prices dropping on hard-to-keep fruits around noon. We were lucky enough to live right on a square that holds both an immense fresh market on Wednesdays and a small organic market on Saturdays in Copacabana. I’ve been often taken aback by both the immense quantity of produce and the—by US standards—lax sanitary conditions (especially problematic for fresh fish and meats in the heat); but buying all our food at the market became a regular program and a bit of an addiction.
Herbs and flavorings.
Manioc roots.
Fruits and vegetables in a cacophony of colors and shapes.
Spices and peppers of all kinds.
Maracuja or Passion fruit. The fruit is the yellow-orange stuff around the edible black seeds.
Many kinds of bananas. Each has a distinct flavor and texture.  

Little sardines are being gutted on the spot and sold by the dozen.
Citrus varieties.

Fish of all kinds. By mid-morning, there is usually no visible sign of ice under the fish.  
Crab vendor.
Out of the amazing exotic tropical fruits we got to try in Rio perhaps the caju (cashew apple) is the most interesting.
Caju fruit.
The cashew nut shell cut into two. This is very toxic; needs to be dried and roasted.
The cashew nut is inside the green skin that sits on top of the fruit. 
The caju fruit has a soft creamy-yellow flesh and a pleasant slightly bitter taste.  
Mixing a caju caipirinha: Cut fruit, add sugar, then crush in a mixer (or glass jar here) with a wooden-pestle. Add cachaça and ice and shake.
As for eating on the go, there are lots of forms of eateries, each with their typical selection of products. "Lanches" are places for things like sandwiches and (recently) burgers. They also offer typical regional “salgados” (baked pastry-type or breaded and fried filled savory snacks) although those are often sold at "padarias" (bakeries) and "confeitarias" (pastry shops) as well. The most famous confeitaria in Rio is Colombo. Salgados and other cakes and pastries are eaten all-day-round, but mostly in the afternoons, accompanied by a short cup of coffee, a “cafezinho,” taken black. Coffee, of course, is a strong part of culture. It is the equivalent of hospitality, any time of the day, and thus cannot be refused.
Signature pastries from Confeitaria Colombo. These are typically of Portuguese origin. 

Confeitaria Colombo
The endless mirrors in the sitting area of Confeitaria Colombo.
Finally, two of the most often seen street foods: "Tapioca recheada" (snow-white pancakes filled with any kinds of ingredients from meats, cheese, guava paste, condensed milk, coconut, and these in any combinations).  These are made with a special kind of manioc (also known as cassava or tapioca) flour that has been through a fermentation process. At the fresh market, manioc-product vendors make the flour fresh by adding some water and putting the mixture through a coarse sieve (resulting in a grainy but dry substance) but the same is also available pre-packaged at the supermarkets. The product is ingenious: Putting on a hot skillet, the small starch pearls will fuse together (due to water and heat) into a thick crepe. Nothing else is needed. It’s quite bland by itself, with a very unique fermented perfume, so any kind of filling would go quite well with it. Vendors have small metal push-carts complete with a hot-plate and skillet, making them one-by-one, fresh to order.
Here is a YouTube video by Vovó Cristina on how to make it:

Another street food that is interesting to watch in the making is “acarajé.” Acarajé is of Yoruba origin and comes from the state of Bahia (most typically from Salvador). Making it requires a bigger setup, usually a tent with steaming hot caldrons, so it’s often sold at street fairs, like the Sunday Hippy Fair at Ipanema by cheerful round ladies dressed in gleaming white layers of skirts, blouse and wearing matching white majestic head-wraps. The image of these ladies is iconic in Brazil and fills many of the tourist gift items, but it also represents the aspects of Brazilian culture that are of of Nigerian origin. I did not come to love acarajé as much as I would have liked to but the whole preparation and presentation of it is an experience worth trying. Acarajé is a deep fried bun made of mashed black-eyed peas that is fried in “dendê” (red palm) oil, which gives its characteristic flavor and red color. The bun is cut and filled with “vatapá” (a stew of ocra, cashew and shrimp) and topped with “caruru” (a kind salsa of red and green tomatoes and cilantro) and with more tiny smoked shrimps.

Customers sit on plastic chairs while eating. 
Making the black-eye pea mixture.
Frying the buns.
Filling the buns with vatapá and  caruru.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lugares Lindos e Maravilhosos (Places beautiful and wonderful)

In the first two weeks in June we are staying in Cabo Frio, a spectacular coastal region about two and a half hours drive north-east of Rio. Cabo Frio has three different areas, each worth exploring: Cabo Frio and Peró (where we are actually staying) are where the crowds go. It is a long coastline with sand dunes and the typical vacation facilities. Under our window, the sea is going in and out with a constant murmur. The sun rises over the sea and although it seems to be losing vigor by mid-afternoon (it’s winter here) it warms and brightens the beaches. It finishes with spectacular colors at 5pm, when the wind also picks up, getting everything fresh and ready for a new day.
There are many little islands just of the coast in Cabo Frio.
The smaller beach in the morning in Peró with its colorful kiosks.
The larger beach (in front of our hotel) in Peró. Each of the kiosks are putting out chairs on the beach every morning.
On the south end of the region is Arraial do Cabo (Cape Village), a fishing village of modest means, whose only apparent role in tourism is to act as gatekeeper to the islands and beaches of the Arraial. We went with an organized boat tour that was offered to us through the hotel. The tour was a most surreal experience, as many things in Brazil tend to be—meaning that they are located between utopia and dystopia, creating a clash of expectation and reality. In hindsight, it all makes perfect sense: The most beautiful beach in Brazil is Praia do Ilha do Farol (Lighthouse Island beach), located on an island just off the mainland of Arraial. The Brazil navy controls access to the Island, which is also a nature preserve and a sacred indigenous burial ground (so we were told on the boat). The only way to get to the island is by a boat, and only with the help of a third party, one of the so called “tour companies” that charter the boats, whose role is nothing more than actually purchasing the permit to enter the waters and giving the list of passengers to the boat operators. Being a busy Saturday of a long holiday weekend, our boat was large and filled with a blasting soundtrack and heavy drinking vacationers—a scene only entertaining for a brief period bust mostly annoying.
Arraial do Cabo. The turquoise pool of water is connecting the beaches of Forno and Farol. The water is several meters deep even a few meters from the beach, yet incredibly clear. It's possible to see the bottom, the fish and the giant sea-turtles.
The prize for putting up with the partying is a 40-minute stop on the island beach of silky white sand and turquoise waters. They ferried us in groups from the main boat to the shore by a small rubber motorboat, while the “schooner” put down anchor further away in deep waters. Such a magical place! - very likely the limited access just adds to the specialness and romance of the place. I would have liked to explore more but there was only time for a dip in the crystal waters and a visit to the almost fossil-like but still live ancient fig tree (supposedly planted by Amerigo Vespucci upon reaching Arraial during his third voyage around 1500). The area around the tree is cordoned off and the glimmering sand is littered with sparkling white bones and pure white shell fragments. If I understood correctly, this is the burial place, although could not confirm this fact with my google-research. 
At the next stop, on Praia do Forno, they let us jump into the water from the boat and swim to the beach from there. I don’t have many pictures from this trip because I choose to leave my phone (camera) on the boat while swimming, which seemed sensible then but now I regret very much. As a funny aside, most young people were brandishing selfie-sticks and waterproof cameras, taking endless but carefully posed photos of themselves floating, on the beach, with the-girlfriend-in-arm, half-way in the water, etc… 
Tour boats, like this one take people over to Farol Island.
The white beach, Praia do Ilha do Farol, said to be the most beautiful in Brazil, with Vespucci's fig tree in the center. Fig tree species were carried from the Mediterranean/Spain into the New World by the early explorers. 
The very tip of the peninsula which is Cabo Frio is the area of Búzios, the upscale Riviera of Brazil. Búzios has many beaches, each being different in the calmness of the water, their size and crowdedness and in whether they face the open ocean or the distant mountains of the mainland. There are many great view points to hike to and the island is built out with beautiful mansions and hotels. Búzios is a lively elegant town with excellent restaurants and fancy shops. This time we were better prepared with a map and a plan, and took a long cab-ride from our hotel to our first stop, Praia Torturuga (Turtle beach, named after a turtle shaped rock that sits in the middle of it). 
Beaches in Brazil have colorful kiosks, each placing rows of tables and chairs to face the water. These cater to every need, often having wifi, rental equipment for various water sports and, of course, tons fried food and caipirinhas. In the mornings, as one walks down the beach, the vendors try to rope people in with bargains. It is probably fun to totally give yourself over to this kind of leisure experience, and many do, but it’s really not our style to sit in a beach chair all day.  Instead, we took a dip in the choppy water (Torturuga is an open bay with a coral reef just outside of it, where, in calmer weather, would be a lot of fun to snorkel) and went on to explore the peninsula on foot. 
This way, an hour later, we reached Azeda and Azedinho, which are only accessible by a trail that ends in a long stairway. These beaches I think are the most beautiful in Búzios, mostly because they are small and quiet, without the usual fuss of blasting music and hustling vendors. The water was calm like a swimming pool and the handful people laying around on the handkerchief-size sandpad felt almost like family. Against the tree-lined rock wall that is the back-stage of the beach were three upturned wooden boats, each making a make-shift bar or grill counter. 
It can be difficult to find peace at vacation spots in Brazil: Nature is tromped people, noise and litter. Somehow, luckily, Azendinho beach had none of this, which made it even more attractive. Brazilians (this is a generalization, I know) love the company of others; the idea of entertainment is loud music and many beers, which they are always glad to share. The global music industry's soundtracks are annoying but it is also as often to see a make-shift samba circle forming in an instant at any random spot. Using their rich voices as well as styrofoam coolers, cans (and whatever else is around) as musical instruments, music is made together and it is very good. Everyone seems to know all the samba songs and join in on the singing. 
Azeda and Azedinho from the top of the bluff.
The view of Búzios from Mirante (viewpoint). 
While in Cabo Frio, I’m wrapping up the writing and documentation aspects of the past two months and also re-presenting my Palavra word exchange project. I’m a guest of II ELGA (The second Latin American School of Algebraic Geometry and Applications), a high-profile international conference of mathematicians in the special area of Algebraic Geometry. Doing another Palavra project here with a more international and extremely specialist group of people is an interesting and rewarding experience. The first iteration was very successful, drawing big crowds and creating lots of fascinating conversations. I run out of cards to print after three hours and have been getting many requests since for repeating the project. Will be writing about that in more detail in the next post.

Fishing boats are coming into the harbor for the night. 
A gorgeous sunset over the continent. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Serendipitous encounters

Researching, in their own context, artists significant in modern Brazilian art history, and learning about the contemporary South-American art scene were among the primary aims of my coming to Brazil. Largo das Artes has extensive connections in the Rio artworld and residents are well taken care of with regular recommendations and visits to museums, galleries, openings and other art-related events.
While—contrary to my expectations—I did not get to see any of Lygia Clark's pieces in Rio, I've noticed a strong connection between art and psychotherapy in contemporary art that she had helped to champion. I wonder whether, in fact, this connection is due to the influence of her work or if there is a uniquely Brazilian emphasis on exploring and expressing intangible spiritual dimensions. (While I did not have a chance to see her work here, on the other hand, the recent MoMA exhibit of Lygia Clark's work has an excellent online resource of videos and catalogued artworks.) Clark's later work emphasized sensory perception that is taken out of the exclusive realm of the visual and focused on the psychologically charged interaction between artwork and participant. She has referred to her interactive pieces as ones to create a "ritual without myth."

While Clark has eluded me the whole time (her work is too fragile to be on permanent view and, as I've heard, has also been a subject of disputes between her estate and collections,) I got to learn more details about Helio Oiticica's oeuvre. During his short life Oiticica produced works both experimental and wide-ranging so that his brands of artworks (e.g. Tropicalias, Penetrables, and Parangoles) created a permanent touchtone for contemporary Brazilian art theory, which in turn spurred on a younger generation of artists. His artistic persona and his work has been successfully mythologized under the stewardship of his brothers and the artworld. In the fall of 2015, a documentary made by brother Cesar, on the life of Helio Oitica will be released in New York.
Helio Oiticica: Parangole
There is an extremely strong trend of conceptual art tradition is Brazil that is often connected to living during the military dictatorship. In contemporary art, there is a generation of much revered mature artists, like Antonio Dias, Cildo Mereiles, and José Damasceno, who further a conceptual approach that is simultaneously material orieneted, each making it into his own uniquely different brand. Much to my surprise, Eduardo Kac, the artist of the glow-in-the-dark bunny, Alba, has also come from these conceptual beginnings. Kac's early work, made in Brazil in the early 1980's focused on language, abstraction, and technology. The artifacts of his inquiry into methods of transcription were extremely interesting to see in the Laura Marsiaj Gallery, especially that Eduardo was kind enough to supply detailed explanations about the now obsolete technologies he used for making these pieces.  Kac lives and works in Chicago. Meeting him in Rio and listening to his explanations fluidly moving from Portuguese to English was an interesting but oddly confusing experience.
Eduardo Kac in a gallery talk at Laura Marsiaj Gallery.
The same odd out-of-place encounter has happened with author Sarah Thornton, whose new book "O que é um artista?" (What is an artist?) was released in Brazil in April. Thornton gave a talk in Parque Lage to an overflow audience. During the talk, she presented many intriguing stories and artist characters from her book, which is a result of insightful interviews and discussions with her large sample of artist subjects, many of whom she had to pull strings with in order to have this kind candid and exclusive access to. After the talk, I tried to inquire if her findings about what makes an artist were applicable to a much larger population of mainstream and emerging artist, or were they merely "celebrity gossip" we all enjoy but have very little generalizations to make from. We had an interesting but non-conclusive conversation about this. Since then, I had a chance to read the book, which I find very thoughtful and well researched, yet still a bit in the realm of quality entertainment rather than something I would assign to my students.

If there was one artist I really had wanted to meet in Rio, that would have to be Ernesto Neto, whose room size installation at the Henry Art Gallery, entitled the Flying Gloup Nave, was a formative experience during my gradschool years. His work had opened up an entire world of possibilities about sculpture that is both object-like/bodily and spatial/architectural; both sensual as well as completely trivial (I should have used the words accessible or domestic here). I liked the fact that his work was made on a scale of a building but with materials and processes that are assigned to the feminine: thousands of little stitches, threads and connections, elastic surfaces that could be pulled, stretched and expanded.
In early May, the wonderful Casa Daros held a "bate-papo" (chat) with Neto, which gave me the first chance to meet him. After sitting through two hours of meandering stories in his animated Portuguese that ranged from his becoming an artist (through astronomy) to his ideas about education (movement and dance instead of book-learning); from Brancusi's Kiss to criticizing FIFA—in much of this I only understood what the story was about but not the actual details of how it went—I had a chance to introduce myself and have a brief chat. I learned that his 2006 exhibition in the 'le Panthéon', Paris was made in the space that is my studio in Largo das Artes.
A fan-picture with Ernesto after his lecture.
Embraced by a Neto sculpture in Casa Daros.

A few weeks later, with Largo director, Miguel Sayad's help, we were to visit Neto's atelier, also located in the Centro, a few blocks away from our studio. His workshop takes up a three-story building and it functions more-or-less like a factory.  Stairs separate the prep and install areas (ground floor) that have many workers, from the sewing and storage rooms (middle level) that only have a few specialized assistants, finally arriving to Neto's private space (on top floor). The studio building is both magical and completely down-to-earth practical. There are lots of video-interviews available online in which Neto speaks about the work that goes on and the workers he employs from the favela communities. Although this question was not raised during our conversation, I found him to be genuinely interested in the betterment of his community and in the social, emotional and cultural well-being of Brazilian society in general. Our discussion lasted about an hour and was somewhat strange. Somehow most of the discussion revolved around indigenous spiritual traditions, many of which Neto is both interested in and, apparently, practices. I've noticed before that the use of certain psychotropics is widely condoned in Brazil, as a way of both accepting the indio heritage of using plant substances for making a connection with nature and the spiritual realms, and also as a way of accessing one's own otherwise unreachable psychic dimensions. To my question about what he thinks of the critical discourse around his work (since I've never see the ideas he mentioned anywhere in the writings of curators and art critics), the artist said that he nearly never reads these, or when he does much later, he tends to ignore them. Even if this was an exaggeration, he seemed to imply that his work springs from a completely introverted origin, one that is very personal to him and thus can exists in such isolation. He seemed to say that when people find a way to relate to his work it amuses him, but does not affect or feed his process, which exists only for his own reasons. I find this self-centered certainty to be an admirable model to follow.
The entry to the second floor is shaped like the characteristic orifices. 
Ground floor was turned into a dye studio just a few weeks before, in order to complete a project. 
We were lucky enough to have a chance to try out the large hammock-like piece before it was crated and shipped to Austria for a show. 
The hammock is going into the crate. 
Leaving Neto's studio, I was reminded of the ripple effect an art artifact, idea or artist may have. Neto is partially responsible for one of the most interesting galleries in Rio: Gentil Carioca. Gentil Carioca takes on an unassuming building in the SAARA, very close to Largo das Artes. Their profile is half-way between a commercial art gallery and a non-profit. Gentil Carioca furthers the career of a strong cohort of young Brazilian artists such as Maria Nepomuceno and Laura Lima but also maintains a very unusual initiative, which supports the education of kids in communities that otherwise would not have access to art.

Finally, in the "new generation of Brazilian artist" it's worth mentioning more about the one everyone talks about–also a Carioca—Laura Lima. I did not get to meet her but saw her much discussed piece in the group show "Encruzilhada" (Crossroads) at Parque Lage. The piece is a naked man—tethered to ropes and cords that are anchored to the trees outside and run through the open windows—who, like Sisyphus, painfully struggles about with the dead weight. Lima's performances are a little too didactic too my taste and while they never feature the artist herself, too reminiscent of early performances by Marina Abramovic. But there is one that has just came to my attention this week, as it is about to open in the National Gallery of Denmark. The work, entitled The Naked Magician, is an installation with a performer. It is theatrical and laden with metaphors. I see lots of common threads between her brand and the way I tend to work. Even her slightly didactic but disjoint and layered narratives resonate with me. Lima has a degree in philosophy.

Laura Lima: The Naked Magician
Laura Lima with her two "disinterested observer" performers in the hammock.