The prominent presence of Hélio Oiticica in museums and arts centres in Europe and the USA from the beginning of the 1990s rarely transmitted the vibrant and experimental nature of the author of the acclaimed sé marginal, sé heroico. By contrast, the logic of scarcity in the art system has tended to turn into a fetish much of his work. This interlude looks to restore the multiplicity of this work with the premiere of Hélio Oiticica. The documentary, screened for the first time in the Museo, represents a living archive, with the numerous recovered and unpublished documents like the thoughts recorded by the artist himself, or audiovisual fragments of the cosmococas and quasi-cinemas, articulating a kaleidoscopic narrative of both Hélio Oiticica and the post-war Avant-garde movement in Brazil as a whole. Thus, art events from the time, such as his exhibition in Whitechapel (1969) and his participation in the Pamplona Encounters (1972), converge with the music of Jimi Hendrix on Are You Experienced?, the tropicália movement via Gilberto Gil and Jards Macalé, bloco as a way of life, the films of Glauber Rocha, Neville d’Almeida and Julio Bressane in Cinema Novo, and the New York underground of Jack Smith and Mario Montez, in an attempt to fuse art and life.
The work of Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) condenses one of the most independent, intellectual and vibrant oeuvres in the second half of the 20th century. Schooled in the Neo-Concrete movement articulated in the mid 1950s in Río de Janeiro, adhering to the ideas of the poets Oswald de Andrade and Ferreira Gullar, he abandoned painting in a continual experimentation that would lead him to question the role of the artist. The function of art is not to yield to the production demands of the work, he wrote, but to change the value of things. Thus, Oiticica challenges many of the foundations of art with new categories, like the visual experience in the penetrables, the object in bólides or public intervention in parangolés, giving rise to an artistic practice based on the alliance between awareness and sensation, relationships and experience.
This screening is also enhanced by Hélio Oiticica’s presence in the Museo Reina Sofía Collection. Along with other Neo-Concrete works and the cosmococas, Tropicália (1967) stands out – an extensive installation that, under the slogan Purity is a Myth, appeals to a playful and collective experience of the world.
César Oiticica Filho. Hélio Oiticica
Film, 2013. 35mm. 92’. Screening format: HD Digital Archive
Sabatini Building, Auditorium. 7 p.m.
First screening, with the filmamker in person: 23 May
Second screening: 29 May