I must confess that the invitation to evaluate the international perspectives of the Brazilian sculptural production is something that makes me feel a little anxious. In fact, how can I lead you to a satisfactory conclusion? Even though the amazing expansion of the commercial galleries sector is strictly related to its ‘gradual’ integration to the international artistic scene; it is also true, as I see it, that there are other major and more decisive factors for the expansion of this sector of artistic production. I must also point out right away that this insertion in the international circuit, although unquestionable, is far from being as fast and successful as our national pride would wish. Indeed, an evaluation of this process involves three aspects:
1. Knowledge about Brazilian sculptural production. This subject, I venture to say, I know satisfactorily.
2. Knowledge about the totality of international sculptural production is a prerequisite for me to perceive and evaluate the singularities of the Brazilian production, that is, the modalities of its contributions to sculptural thought as a whole. But how can one have access to this totality? Even if one refers to the information published in magazines and the mainstream exhibition circuit, it would not make this universe much smaller. But without taking into account the quality of the information which circulates, I, as a Brazilian - that is, a citizen of a country whose artistic production, despite its quality, has only recently has been seen - suppose that the same has happened in other countries at this moment. Or not?
3. Finally, disregarding the risk implicit in generalisations such as this, thinking about international perspectives of Brazilian sculptural production certainly implies taking into account the expectations international viewers have of Brazilian art, which I can only deduct from what has been consumed, which is certainly not enough to make a forecast. After all, one may rightfully expect, at best, that the first impulse of someone who is unfamiliar with Brazilian art is to approach something which is exotic to them.
This would not be a problem if it did not involve two aspects closely related, which might be deeply problematic: Firstly, the search for the exotic, frequently fed by preconceived views, operates a scission that might be abrupt, which doesn’t clarify how much of us is in others, and how much we are the result of the flux of information coming from various sources. And secondly, corollary to this effect, the search for the exotic leads one to despise what is already known or supposedly known. This was the case of the Italian critic and curator, Achille Bonito Oliva, who, in a quick visit to a gallery in S?o Paulo, pointed to a picture and said in a definite and pejorative tone: ‘North American Minimalism!’. I, who was escorting him, explained that it was a work by the neoconcrete artist Hercules Barsotti, dating from 1959.
Given that a satisfactory analysis of all these aspects is impossible, and even incompatible with the contents of my speech, I will try to demonstrate in a short, yet effective way, only some of them. I hope not to frustrate you by letting you know beforehand that I will not comment, except indirectly, on the sculptural production strictly speaking, especially because this seminar accompanies an exhibition that contemplates it in an exemplary way. My proposal here is to point out some particularities of the Brazilian artistic sphere, starting by an attempt to clear up the issue of what is or what is not Brazilian, and, after that, to discuss the role played by the market in the production, dissemination and commercialisation of art-works; that is, in the work of the artists in their studio, as well as in the reformulation of the statute of the critic, of the curator and of the exhibitions.