Brazilian Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
Titled Terra [Earth], the Pavilion of Brazil, jointly curated by the architects Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares, and commissioned by the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, proposes to rethink the past in order to design possible futures, bringing to the fore actors forgotten by the architectural canons, in dialogue with the curatorship of the Venice Biennale 2023 edition, Laboratory of the Future.
It features the following collaborators: Mbya-Guarani Indigenous people; Tukano, Arawak and Maku Indigenous peoples; Alaká Weavers (Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá); Ilê Axé Iyá Nassô Oká (Casa Branca do Engenho Velho); Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto; Ayrson Heráclito; Day Rodrigues with the collaboration of Vilma Patrícia Santana Silva (Grupo Etnicidades FAU-UFBA); Fissura collective; Juliana Vicente; Thierry Oussou and Vídeo nas Aldeias.
From a reflection on the Brazil of yesterday, of today and of the future, the exhibition places land at the center of the debate both as a poetic and as a concrete element in the exhibition space. To this end, the entire pavilion will be filled with earth, putting the public in direct contact with the tradition of Indigenous territories, Quilombola dwellings, and candomblé ceremonies.
Elements of Brazilian popular dwellings are present at the entrance to the Brazilian pavilion and contrast with the building's modernist features, such as the fences with the sankofa symbol – pertaining to an African writing system called Adinkra, by the Akan people of West Africa, which has been widely used in fence designs and can be seen in most Brazilian cities, meaning "to look at the knowledge of our ancestors in search of building a better future".
The first gallery of the modernist pavilion has been named “Decolonizing the Canon” by the curators, questioning the imaginary surrounding the version that Brasília, the capital of Brazil, was built in the middle of nowhere, given that its Indigenous and Quilombola inhabitants had been removed from the region in the colonial period, and were finally pushed to the fringes with the imposition of the modernist city. The aim is thus to show an image of a more complex, diverse and plural territory, architecture and heritage of national formation and modernity in Brazil, presenting other narratives through architecture, landscape and heritage neglected by the architectural canon. In a variety of formats, the works that fill the gallery range from the projection of an audiovisual work by the filmmaker Juliana Vicente, created in conjunction with the curatorship and commissioned for the occasion, to a selection of archive photographs, compiled by the historian Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto, to the ethno-historical map of Brazil by Curt Nimuendajú and the “Brasília Quilombola map”, the latter also commissioned for the occasion.
The second gallery, named "Places of Origin, Archaeologies of the Future", welcomes us with the screening of the video installation in two supports by Ayrson Heráclito – The Shaking of the Casa da Torre and of the Maison des Esclaves in Gorée, from 2015 – and turns to memories and the archaeology of ancestrality. Occupied by socio-spatial projects and practices of Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian knowledge about land and territory, the curatorship brings forth five essential memorial heritages of reference: The Casa da Tia Ciata, in the urban context of Pequena África in Rio de Janeiro; the Tava, as the Guarani call the ruins of the Jesuit missions in Rio Grande do Sul; the ethnogeographic complex of terreiros in Salvador; the Indigenous Agroforestry Systems of the Rio Negro in the Amazon; and the Iauaretê waterfall of the Tukano, Arawak and Maku. The exhibition demonstrates what several scientific studies prove: that Indigenous and Quilombola lands are the best preserved territories in Brazil, and in that way point towards a post-climate change future where “decolonization” and “decarbonization” walk hand in hand. Their practices, technologies and customs linked to land management and production, like other ways of doing and understanding architecture, are located in the earth, are equally universal and carry within themselves the ancestral knowledge to re-signify the present and design other futures, for both human and nonhuman communities alike, towards another planetary future.
Curators: Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares
Participants: Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto; Ayrson Heráclito; Day Rodrigues with a collaboration from Vilma Patrícia Santana Silva; Fissura collective; Ilê Axé Iyá Nassô Oká (Casa Branca do Engenho Velho); Juliana Vicente; Mbya-Guarani Indigenous peoples; Tukano, Arawak and Maku Indigenous peoples; Alaká Weavers (Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá); Thierry Oussou; Vídeo nas Aldeias.