Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, tropicalismo, Lygia Clark, Caetano Veloso, London, Robert Stam, Pedro Neves Marques, Sganzerla, Neves Marques, Cinema Marginal, Arthur Omar, films, Helena Ignez, Brazilian Cinema, Carlos Basualdo, Film History, Jomard Muniz de Britto, Oiticica, cultural hegemony, Cinema Novo, Glauber Rocha, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, A Idade da Terra, Columbia University Press, contemporary artists, io, film, Cosmopolitan Film, O Bandido, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, documentary film, Avant-Garde Cinema, Victor Gorgulho, film season, Brazilian Film, Stefan Solomon, Andre Bazin, Michel Serres, Carlos Adriano, Gilberto Gil, Roberto Schwarz, Jairo Ferreira, Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, Century Cinema, Eder Santos Jr, Hannah Higgins, Anne Jerslev, University of California Press, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Outlaw Cinema, Indiana University Press, Dick Higgins, Joachim Paech
Tropicбlia and Beyond: Dialogues in Brazilian Film History Edited by Stefan Solomon Archive Books
LIST OF CONTENTS
LUXO LIXO: THE RED LIGHT BANDIT
81 Rogйrio Sganzerla, Outlaw Cinema
85 Ismail Xavier, Red Light Bandit: Allegory and Irony
123 Albert Elduque, As Belair went by: An Interview with Helena Ignez
TABOO AND TOTEM: ARTHUR OMAR / PEDRO NEVES MARQUES
7 Stefan Solomon, Introduction to Tropicбlia and Beyond: Dialogues in Brazilian Film History
139 Arthur Omar, Triste Trуpico: When a Film Must Be Revolutionary: An unpublished interview with M.
HUNGER FOR THE ABSOLUTE: LAND IN ANGUISH AT 50
149 Pedro Neves Marques, How to Film Light Beings? A Challenge to Twenty-First Century Cinema
35 Caetano Veloso, Anguish
LIVING ARCHIVES, ASLEEP IN THEIR FORMS: CARLOS ADRIANO
47 Robert Stam, Land in Anguish 63 Ela Bittencourt, Love in Times of Hunger: On Glauber's Terra em Transe and Women in Brazilian Cinema
157 Carlos Adriano, Found footage and the magnetization of affection 179 Scott MacDonald, A Sudden Passion: Carlos Adriano's Sem Titulo #1: Dance of Leitfossil
THE AGE OF THE EARTH / THE AGE OF STONE 193 Albert Elduque, Cut it Like a Tambourine Beat: Ricardo Miranda on the Editing of The Age of the Earth 211 Ana Vaz, Cosmovisions, dreaming beyond the sun SUPER 8: IVAN CARDOSO, HЙLIO OITICICA, JORGE O MOURГO 227 Ivan Cardoso, Script for H.O. (1979) 231 Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, Hйlio's COUSIN: Cocaine and the Relations of Production in the Life and Work of Hйlio Oiticica
THE KING OF THE CANDLE 269 Josй Celso Martinez Corrкa, The King of the Candle: Oficina Manifesto 273 Noilton Nunes, Evaluating the Restoration of The King of the Candle BARRAVENTO NOVO 279 Bruce Yonemoto, Barravento Novo 283 Eder Santos Jr, Barravento with "special defects" 287 Augusto Barros, Rever Barravento 291 BIOGRAPHIES 297 IMAGE CREDITS 301 TEXT CREDITS 302 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
241 Jorge O Mourгo, Brazilian Connection (selections)
253 Rubens Machado, The Super 8 Outbreak of the 1970s
Tropicбlia and Beyond:
Dialogues in Brazilian Film History
This catalogue, a collection of essays
, interviews, and manifestos, complements the film season of the same name held at the Tate Modern from 9-12 November 2017: "Tropicбlia and Beyond: Dialogues in Brazilian Film History." Both catalogue and film season are outputs of the research project, "Towards an Intermedial History of Brazilian Cinema: Exploring Intermediality as a Historiographic Method" (IntermIdia), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in the UK, and by the Sгo Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) in Brazil. In this project, my colleagues and I (both at the University of Reading and at the Federal University of Sгo Carlos) have analysed the concept of "intermediality" the idea that cinema "can incorporate forms of all other media, and can initiate fusions and `dialogues' between the distinct arts"1 as a means of reconceiving the history of cinema in general, and of cinema in Brazil in particular. In our work, we have explored many different examples of intermedial cinema that emerged in the country over the past century: from the theatrical prologues that preceded screenings of films in the nineteen-twenties, to the musical particularities of the chanchadas in the following decades, and on through to the most recent overlaps between cinema and digital technologies. While intermediality might be posited as a method for analysing cinema tout court, there are specific examples in Brazil's film history that suggest themselves most overtly to such an approach: in particular, the films produced alongside the Tropicбlia movement in music and the visual arts at the end of the 1960s about which more, below as well as more recent films responding to that movement, will form the subject of this catalogue. 1 Бgnes Peth, Cinema and Intermediality: The Passion for the In-Between (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
, 2011), 1.
Never strictly an autonomous or "pure" medium (despite the early protestations of the cinema pur movement started by Henri Chomette in France, and the similar sentiments expressed by the Chaplin Club in Rio de Janeiro
, both during the 1920s2), cinema in general has always depended upon those art form
s that preceded it (and upon those that arrived later), appropriating and absorbing aspects of poetry, theatre, architecture, and later radio, television, and computing, as a means of realising its potential as what Andre Bazin called a "mixed" or "impure" medium.3 Writing in particular with respect to the value of literary adaptation, Bazin pointed out that cinema's common dependence on literature need not be viewed in a negative light, but rather conferred value on both novel and film object alike: "To pretend that the adaptation of novels is a slothful exercise from which the true cinema, `pure cinema', can have nothing to gain, is critical nonsense to which all adaptations of quality give the lie."4 Written immediately after the Second World War, Bazin's lasting intervention was to argue that cinema's uniqueness was paradoxically its capaciousness, its open embrace of the other arts that had allowed it to constantly reimagine itself since its debut at the end of the nineteenth-century. Some years later and from a different (sympathetic) angle, the term "intermedia," coined by the Fluxus artist Dick Higgins, became a live concept in the United States, where it appeared as part of the cultural logic of a society that would `no longer allow a compartmentalized approach.'5
2 For a discussion of the latter, see Sarah Ann Wells, "Parallel Modernities?: The First Reception of Soviet Cinema in Latin America
", in Cosmopolitan Film Cultures in Latin America, 18961960, ed. Rielle Navitski and Nicolas Poppe (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 2017), 151-175. 3 The choice of the original translation "mixed" as opposed to "impure" here carries particular political baggage. See Lъcia Nagib and Anne Jerslev, "Introduction", in Impure Cinema: Intermedial and Intercultural Approaches to Film (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2014), xviiii. 4 Andrй Bazin, "In Defense of Mixed Cinema", in What is Cinema? vol. 1, ed. and trans. Hugh Gray (Berkeley and Los Angeles
: University of California Press, 1967), 68. 5 Dick Higgins, Hannah Higgins, "Intermedia", Leonardo 34, no. 1 (2001): 49.
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
And this fusing and crossing of mediums that it suggested was also taking shape elsewhere; the term was taken up in Japan, for example, with the 1967 "Intermedia" event combining various expressions of expanded cinema and film performance.6 Intermediality in cinema refers to that which lies "between" film and the other arts; while a painting viewed in the context of a gallery may not arouse any particular interest in its own mediality, that same painting, when transposed to the world of a film, draws attention to itself as a medium that has been displaced, and now exists not as a painting, but as the cinematic remediation of that painting. Of course, non-cinematic media visual arts, photography, theatre, dance, music routinely feature in cinema, and for the most part are not especially foregrounded in the work. However, intermedial relations between film and the other arts emerge in moments when this process of remediation takes the film outside of itself, emphasising the way in which cinema is not a self-sufficient art form, but depends and has always depended upon the representational and aesthetic strategies of its predecessors.7 Where cinema has always drawn on the narrative properties of literature, the framing of the stage play, and the many uses of colour in the visual arts, intermedial cinema stages such connections for the viewer in a reflexive manner that makes visible the different processes of mediation.
6 See Julian Ross, "Projection as Performance: Intermediality in Japan's Expanded Cinema", in Impure Cinema: Intermedial and Intercultural Approaches to Film, ed. Lъcia Nagib and Anne Jerslev (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2014), 248-267. Although not quite advocating an `intermedial' approach, some years later the Brazilian director Jъlio Bressane drawing on the work of Roman Jakobson would refer to his filmmaking practice as a series of `intersemiotic translations' from one medium to another, such that his film Bras Cubas (1985) represented something more than a mere "adaptation" of the novel by Machado de Assis. See Jъlio Bressane, Cinemancia (Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 2000), 49. 7 See Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media (Cambridge, MA
: MIT Press, 2000).
Cinema stands in parasitic relation to the other arts, and could not exist were it not for the various "hosts" that paved its way. Joachim Paech has referred to this relationship
as the "parasitic third" of cinema, in which the parasite is neither the film object itself, nor the medium from which it borrows, but the space between the two.8 For Michel Serres, from whom Paech borrows his framework, the parasite is a muchmaligned figure in history, an unwelcome leech that has generally been viewed as an imposition on another body. It is "a microbe, an insidious infection that takes without giving and weakens without killing. The parasite is also a guest, who exchanges his talk, praise, and flattery for food. The parasite is noise as well, the static in a system or the interference in a channel."9 But more than this, Serres writes of the parasite that it is the necessary condition for all processes of relation although it is a disruptive and distracting force, the parasite is the crucial mediator of communication that makes transformation possible.10 A parasitic, intermedial cinema would also be seen to fulfil the role that Virginia Woolf
had prophesied in 1922, as the cannibal of literature, which "fell upon its prey with immense rapacity, and to this moment largely subsists upon the body of its unfortunate victim."11 But the cannibal, like the parasite, need not take on such a pejorative connotation. And indeed, cannibalism holds a special place in Brazilian cultural history
, not least in regards to cinema.12 As the Brazilian film scholar Jairo Ferreira once observed, cinema is "an anthropophagic art, polarised and transcendental in the way it synthesises all six previous arts and metamorphoses itself into an uneasiness about its future."
8 See Joachim Paech, "Artwork Text Medium: Steps en Route to Intermediality", cited in Peth, Cinema and Intermediality, 39. 9 Lawrence R. Schehr, "Translator's Introduction", in Michel Serres, The Parasite, trans. Lawrence R. Schehr (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), x. 10 See Serres, The Parasite, 79. 11 Virginia Woolf, "The Cinema", in The Essays of Virginia Woolf, vol. IV: 1925-1928, ed. Andrew McNeillie (London: Hogarth Press, 1994), 350. 12 We might also think here of the vampire, another popular figure in Brazilian culture whose allegorical possibilities were put to good use by artists like Torquato Neto, Lygia Pape, and Jorge Mautner. See Christopher Dunn, Contracultura: AlterNative art
s and Social Transformation in Authoritarian Brazil (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016), 92.
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
Accordingly, for Ferreira, the critic's task was not to limit himself to a discussion of cinema as a discrete entity, but to "range over, at the same time, the reading of classics, comics, occultism, everything about painting/architecture/theatre, journalism, radio, television, circus, science, astrology, not forgetting philosophy and sociology, but with special importance placed on poetry and music everything that is truly lived."13 The eclectic nature of cinema in turn required an eclectic approach from the critic. While Woolf 's nod to cannibalism as a way of diagnosing cinema's relation to the other arts was clearly intended metaphorically, Ferreira's deployment of the term coded here in its more erudite version as "anthropophagy" is grounded in a longer history of cultural cannibalism in Brazil. Before all else, such deployments of the term `anthropophagy' relate to the very real cannibalism of the indigenous Tupi people, whose traditions were first recorded in the sixteenth-century in the famous captivity narrative of the German explorer Hans Staden. Such actual, existing cannibalism was later taken up by Oswald de Andrade in the 1920s, where it was revived in his "Manifesto Antropуfago" (1928). While cannibalism had denoted the consumption of the enemy's flesh for the purposes of taking his strength, for Oswald, anthropophagy suggested itself as a framework for the development of modernist culture in Brazil, which would truly realise itself in the act of ingesting foreign cultural influences, and then metabolising the foreign as something particular to the Brazilian context. Although an emphasis on nationalistic culture and traditions would overpower antropofagia in the following decades, there was a renewed interest in the concept in the 1960s, a decade in which the state's repression of leftist political and cultural resistance demanded a reconsideration of the role of art as a means of intervention. And it was at this point that artists in a number of different fields "broke with the puritanism of the Brazilian elite and the nationalist project of the Communist Left, and imagined a future of contradiction, where the traditional and the new, mass production and the artisanal, remain irresolvable and yet in motion."14
13 Jairo Ferreira, "Cinema: Music of Light", trans. Filipe Furtado, Rouge 9 (2006). Available at http://www.rouge.com.au/9/cinema_light.html. 14 Pedro Neves Marques, Introduction to The Forest and the School/Where to Sit at the Dinner Table? (Berlin and Cologne: Archive Books and Akademie der Kьnste der Welt, 2014), 52.
This novel cultural constellation, known as "Tropicбlia," is today most readily associated with three artworks that share its name: Tropicбlia, the title given to a pair of Hйlio Oiticica's penetrбvel (penetrable) installations, displayed at the "New Brazilian Objectivity" show in Rio de Janeiro in 1967; "Tropicбlia," a song by Caetano Veloso that borrowed its title from Oiticica's work; and Tropicбlia: ou Panis et Circensis, a 1968 LP featuring contributions from Caetano and his Bahian compatriots, Gal Costa and Gilberto Gil, as well as Nara Leгo and the young psychedelic group, Os Mutantes. But "Tropicбlia" would also become tropicalismo, cultivating in the process a movement and an ideology.15 In the 1968 tropicalist manifesto "Inventбrio do nosso feudalismo cultural" ("Inventory of our Cultural Feudalism"), led by the Pernambucan writer and filmmaker Jomard Muniz de Britto, tropicalismo was formulated as a "position of critical and creative radicalism in the face of the Brazilian reality today; cultural vanguard as a synonym for militancy, the establishment of new creative processes, the use of `mass culture
' (radio, TV, etc.) for the purpose of unmasking and undermining underdevelopment through the explosion of its most acute contradictions; `to see' with `free' eyes."16 Caetano Veloso, one of the signatories to this manifesto, would later write of the complications of adopting such a position, which coupled a seemingly submissive attitude to the commercial and the kitsch with the desire to disrupt cultural hegemony in its various forms: "Tropicalismo was to incorporate two contradictory attitudes: one, our approval of the version of the Western enterprise offered by American pop and mass culture, including our recognition that
15 Caetano writes of his preference for Tropicбlia over tropicalismo, but also recognises the necessity of "the ism, which, precisely owing to its reductiveness, facilitates the circulation of the ideas and repertory created, conferring on them the status of a movement". Caetano Veloso, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil, trans. Isabel de Sena, ed. Barbara Einzig (London: Bloomsbury, 2003), 7. 16 "O que й tropicalismo: posiзгo de radicalidade critica e criadora diante da realidade brasileira hoje; vanguarda cultural como sinфnimo de militancia, da instauraзгo de novos processos criativos, da utilizaзгo da `cultura de massa' (radio, tv, etc.) com a finalidade de desmascarar e ultrapassar o subdesenvolvimento atravйs da explosгo de suas contradiзхes mais agudas; `ver' com olhos `livres'". Jomard Muniz de Britto, Aristides Guimaraes, Celso Marconi, et al, "Inventбrio do nosso feudalismo cultural", in Bordel brasileiro bordel: antropologia ficcional de nуs mesmos (Recife: Comunicarte, 1992), 81.
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
even the most naпve attraction to that version is a healthy impulse; and, two, our rejection of capitulation to the narrow interests of dominant groups, whether at home or internationally."17 The first of these two attitudes certainly earned tropicalismo its fair share of scrutiny, both from fellow travellers on the left, and from the authoritarian forces on the right. Caetano, while visiting Lygia Clark in Paris while in exile, received a sardonic greeting from his host: a Coca-Cola bottle with a single rose was placed before him on the floor of Clark's apartment. "I am paying you this romantic homage in order to receive you," she told him, "because a plastic rose in a Coca-Cola bottle is like Pop art that's romantic, like the things you Tropicalists do, even though they are very powerful and interesting. I don't identify at all with that sort of thing because I am classical, and am only interested in classical things, that is, in timeless things, because everything romantic depends on information from a certain period."18 This hesitation to embrace imposing commercial trends was also a reaction to the perceived waning of materialist thought, and the collapse of the orthodox left at the time. In this context, the literary critic Roberto Schwarz although writing favourably of the movement in his essay "Culture and Politics in Brazil, 1964-1969" pointed to a certain kind of class-blindness in tropicalist thought. Identifying with all that was in vogue, and rejecting or lampooning the archaic and the traditional, for the tropicalists it was no longer simply a matter of right versus left, elite versus poor. In this mode of thought, and the aesthetic strategies associated with it, all of Brazil existed in a state of poverty, where, as Schwarz points out, "lack of food and lack of style" could be seen to inhabit "the same order of inconvenience."19 Schwarz's essay, written between 1969 and 1970, also gestures toward the ephemerality of tropicalismo.
17 Veloso, Tropical Truth, 7. 18 Lars Bang Larsen and Suely Rolnik, "On Lygia Clark's Structuring the Self ", Afterall 15 (Spring/ Summer 2007). Available at https://www.afterall.org/journal/issue.15/lygia.clarks.structuring.self 19 Roberto Schwarz, Misplaced Ideas: Essays on Brazilian Culture, ed. John Gledson (London and New York: Verso, 1993), 143. Schwarz would pick up where he left off some four decades later, in a controversial review of Caetano's Tropical Truth. See Schwarz, "Political Iridescence: The Changing Hues of Caetano Veloso", New Left Review 75 (May/June 2012): 89-117.
Although he famously argued at the time that "Despite the existence of a right-wing dictatorship, the cultural hegemony of the left is virtually com- plete," history would soon prove him wrong.20 The initial eruption of tropicalismo would last barely a year before the arrival of Ato Institucional Nъmero Cinco (AI-5), the decree issued in December 1968 by the country's military dictatorship that would forever alter the conditions of cultural production in Brazil, and which saw many of the artists associated with tropicalismo arrested and sent into exile. But for all its perceived modishness and political unpredictability on the one hand, and its potential for radical dissent on the other, tropicalismo would remain a powerful presence both at the end of the sixties, and on into the following decades. While the curtailing of civil liberties and snuffing out of creative activity signalled by AI-5 might have brought to a close the brief flourishing of tropicalismo in a very real way, the energies put into play around this time would continue to manifest elsewhere over the following years. Tropicбlia would prove itself as in Oiticica's words "not a `movement' of art but a synthesis as such," to which other works could be added, and would expand to what Carlos Basualdo has called "the designation of a style, an undefinable sociocultural movement, and a possible future."21 In London and in New York, the favoured metropolises for exiles like Oiticica, Caetano, Gil, and many others, Brazilian artistic work continued apace. In London, Oiticica held his so-called "Whitechapel Experience" in 1969, while the musician and proto-tropicalist Jorge Mautner filmed Caetano and Gil for his experimental work O Demiurgo (1972); in New York, Oiticica worked on his quasi-cinematic Cosmococas with Neville D'Almeida in the early 1970s, while Rubens Gerchman, who had designed the album cover of the Tropicбlia LP, ran a studio in the Bowery that played host to Glauber Rocha, Lygia Clark and many others.
20 Schwarz, Misplaced Ideas, 127. Italics in original. 21 Oiticica, "Tropicбlia, the New Image", AHO/PHO 0535/69 (this abbreviation refers to the Arquivos Hйlio Oiticica, the online archive of the Projeto Hйlio Oiticica, available at www.itaucultural.org.br/programaho); Carlos Basualdo, "Tropicбlia: Avant-Garde, Popular Culture, and the Culture Industry in Brazil (1967-1972)", in Tropicбlia: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture (1967-1972), ed. Carlos Basualdo, trans. Aaron Lorenz, Renata Nascimento, Christopher Dunn (Sгo Paulo: CosacNaify, 2005), 19.
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
As may be clear from the variety of figures who crossed paths in these years, much of the work generated in the spaces external to Brazil was the result of artistic collaborations, especially between individuals who operated in what were ostensibly separate fields (a pattern itself undoubtedly encouraged by a collective sense of expatriate camaraderie). In truth, this kind of creative intermingling had been present in tropicalismo since the beginning, which in its ethos had sought to continue the work of the neoconcretist project the poetry of Augusto and Haroldo de Campos and Dйcio Pignatari, the artworks of Oiticica, Clark, and Lygia Pape by lowering the wall between distinct media, and ultimately between art and life. Against the medium specificity that had become the hallmark of modernist cultural production, certain postwar Brazilian artists inclined instead toward the creation of "non-objects" (as theorised by the poet and critic Ferreira Gullar), increasingly refusing to observe the borders demarcating one medium from the next, as well as those cordoning off the artwork from the environments in which it was created and exhibited.22 "Museum is the world: daily experience," Oiticica would claim in 1966, and he attempted to make good on such a proposal in his installation work; Tropicбlia allowed the visitor to walk through a space that mixed exotic plants and live parrots with an operational television set, and wooden boards emblazoned with poetry that served as a constant reminder that "pureza й um mito" ("purity is a myth").23 Oiticica would also go on to curate the "tropical happening" Apocalipopуtese, an exhibition in Rio in August 1968 involving such artists as Gerchman and Antonio Manuel, but more importantly involving members of the public, who were able to interact with a variety of artworks on display in the freely traversable space of the Atкrro do Flamengo.24
22 For the English translation of Gullar's essay, "Theory of the Non-Object", see Michael Asbury, "Neoconcretism and Minimalism: on Ferreira Gullar's Theory of the Non-Object", in Cosmopolitan Modernisms, ed. Kobema Mercer (London and Cambridge, MA: Institute of International Visual Arts and MIT Press, 2005), 17489. 23 Oiticica, "Position and Program", in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 1999), 9. 24 For a more detailed description of this exhibition, see Monica Amor and Carlos Basualdo, "Hйlio Oiticica, Apocalipopуtese", in The Artist as Curator: An Anthology, ed. Elena Filipovic (Milan: Mousse Publishing, 2017), 71-86.
As this brief chronology of the visual arts suggests, tropicalismo offered itself as a banner under which the purity and particularity of any given art form could become compromised, giving rise to something new by ignoring its own institutional confines. In this sense, the dethroning of the consecrated gallery space and the contamination of the autonomous artwork in its interaction with its public went hand in hand with the intermedial crossings between discrete art forms inherent to tropicalismo. Indeed, Rogйrio Duarte the graphic designer and composer perhaps best known for creating the posters for Glauber's Deus e o diabo na terra do sol (Black God, White Devil, 1964) and A Idade da Terra (The Age of the Earth, 1980) would later write of precisely this artistic impurity as the key contribution of the movement: "A major consequence of the tropicalist cultural revolution was the taking over of all mediums and the decompartmentalization of those mediums."25 Duarte, who worked in music, cinema, and graphic design, embodied the multifaceted nature of Tropicбlia, and serves as a reminder that cinema was another important expression (even instigator) of the movement. In a film history that typically coheres around Cinema Novo and Cinema Marginal (as well as the cognate categories Boca do Lixo and udigrudi), there has been less scope for the discussion of tropicalismo. But as Randal Johnson and Robert Stam have argued, Cinema Novo would pass through an explicit "cannibalist-tropicalist phase" between the end of 1968 (with the promulgation of AI-5) until the end of 1971, a shift that represents a splintering and reconstitution of new wave filmmaking in Brazil.26 Cinema Novo at this point began to consider itself in light of popular tastes, transforming its social realism into something less direct, and often adopting allegorical strategies in order to criticise the authoritarian regime. Such a move might be seen most obviously in the overt uses of cannibalism as allegory for rapacious capitalism in Macunaнma (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1969), and as a means of
25 Rogйrio Duarte, Tropicaos, (Rio de Janeiro: Azougue Editorial, 2003), 140, cited and translated in Neves Marques, Introduction to The Forest and the School/Where to Sit at the Dinner Table?, 52. 26 See Brazilian Cinema, ed. Randal Johnson and Robert Stam (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1995), 37-38.
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
connecting the massacre of Amerindians in the seventeenth-century to the contemporary repetition of the same in Como era gostoso o meu francкs (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1972). As one prominent and complex element of "tropicalist" cinema, cannibalism could articulate diverse political and social indignations. But the aesthetic of devoration and predation in such films would also emerge from the formal properties of the national cinema. 1965 had seen the publication of Glauber's manifesto "The Aesthetics of Hunger," which preached violence, ugliness, and desperation as means to combat the ills of Brazilian society: "only a culture of hunger," he wrote, "by undermining and destroying its own structures, can qualitatively surpass itself."27 But the end of the decade would witness a turn from hunger and its attendant technical poverty to "consumption," with commercial production values, the injection of colour film stock, and a tendency to indulge a more uninhibited acting style. And in Glauber's 1971 manifesto, "The Aesthetics of Dreaming," this "spirit of hunger," as Ana Vaz points out in this catalogue, "becomes food again," with the director offering a more generous, less programmatic, take on the way forward for cinema. In fact, such was the case that by 1980, as Vaz describes, Glauber's A Idade da Terra even "breaks away from a Marxist script," resurrecting "the dimension of dreaming, the dimension of the ritual." Just as Glauber's own perspective on cinema might have shifted over the course of his career, so too could tropicalismo point towards another future, away from its connections with underdevelopment and Third Worldism, and on to what Pedro Neves Marques has recently called "a project ready to search for a body/environment ecology supressed by modern reason."28 How then, might we look at the origins of tropicalismo today? Has it, too, become an archaism that must be subjected to our own "white light of ultramodernity"?29 If not, what is the shape of its legacy in our contemporary moment? And how might it manifest in cinema?
27 Glauber Rocha, "The Aesthetics of Hunger", in The Forest and the School/Where to Sit at the Dinner Table?, 205. 28 Neves Marques, Introduction, 51. 29 Schwarz, Misplaced Ideas, 140.
Whatever one's position on the movement, it certainly continues to exert its influence on the Contemporary Art
world; as Christopher Dunn has pointed out, Tropicбlia has had a habit of reappearing in the Brazilian national press with unfailing regularity every five years or so since the late seventies.30 This has been coupled in the last decade with a long list of global exhibitions devoted to the period, to its artists, and to the movement explicitly, inaugurated by Carlos Basualdo's traveling exhibition "Tropicбlia: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture" (MCA, Chicago and Barbican, London 2004/2005; Bronx Museum, New York and Museum de Arte Modern, Rio de Janeiro, 2006/2007), and followed by a number of retrospectives of the work of Oiticica, Pape and Clark.31 Elements of tropicalismo have also informed several film seasons around the world, such as "Brazil: Cinema Novo and Tropical Modernism, 1926-2003" (Austrian Film Museum, 2005), "On the Edge: Brazilian Film Experiments of the Early 1960s and 1970s" (MoMA, 2014), "Experiences of Brazilian Art and Film from the 1960s and 1970s" (Bonniers Konsthall, 2014), and "Tropical Underground: Revolutionen von Anthropologie und Kino in Brasilien nach 1965" (Goethe University Frankfurt, 2017-2018). And this year in Brazil, where the history of the concept is far better known, the Mostra CineTropicбlia in Belo Horizonte, curated by Ewerton Belico, highlighted the crossovers between music and film. In all of the moments when tropicalismo re-emerges in gallery exhibitions and film events, the willingness to test the concept against current trends in creative production
and curation is always an exciting premise. Basualdo's "Tropicбlia," for instance, involved the work of contemporary artists such as Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Marepe, and Ernesto Neto, emphasising the gaps and discontinuities in tropicalist thought, as much as it celebrated the ethos of the first, canonical proponents. Two recent smaller exhibitions in Brazil are also
30 Christopher Dunn, Brutality Garden: Tropicбlia and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture (Durham: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 5. 31 Of particular interest in this respect is the exhibition "Amor e уdio б Lygia Clark" ("Love and Hate to Lygia Clark") that took place at the Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw (2013), and which positioned contemporary artists like Luiz Roque and Guilherme Peters in a critical conversation with their forebear.
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
noteworthy in this regard: "Vivemos na melhor cidade da Amйrica do Sul" (Бtomos, Rio de Janeiro, 2016) and "O terceiro mundo pede bкnзгo e vai dormer" (Despina, Rio de Janeiro, 2017), both critical reconsiderations of tropicalismo as a viable artistic concept.32 Of the latter, curator Victor Gorgulho has written of the importance of bearing a fidelity to the spirit of Tropicбlia by refusing any complicity with neoliberalism. Gorgulho emphasises the fact that despite the contemporary reduction of tropicalismo to the merely "tropical," there is still the possibility of seeing it as something more than a historical curio.33 In this, it is crucial to remember what Oiticica wrote of the movement very early on: "As it turns out, the myth of tropicality is much more than macaws and banana trees: it is the awareness of a non-conditioning to established structures, therefore highly revolutionary in its entirety. Any conformism, whether intellectual, social, existential, escapes its main idea."34 With all of this in mind, "Tropicбlia and Beyond: Dialogues in Brazilian Film History" constitutes an attempt to pick up strands of the cinema made in the late-sixties and on through the following decade that had at least some connection with tropicalismo as a strategy or an idea. But I have also attempted to include the work of filmmakers who disavowed or even reacted against the movement, and desired to occupy a space outside of tropicalismo. In the case of more recent cinema, made in an age where tropicalismo perhaps seems a co-opted or outdated idea,
32 The names of the two exhibitions translate as "We live in the best city in South America
" and "The Third World asks for a blessing and goes to sleep". The first quotes a line from the popular song "Baby", written by Caetano; the referent is not clear, but is generally considered to designate Rio de Janeiro. See "`Vivemos na melhor cidade da Amйrica do Sul': Coletiva no espaзo de arte Бtomos", Premio Pipa, 30 September 2016. Available at http://www.premiopipa.com/2016/09/86475/. 33 Victor Gorgulho, "Tropicбlia, agora", despina.org. Available at http://despina.org/o-terceiromundo-pede-a-bencao-e-vai-dormir/. Such thoughts echo the words of Suely Rolnik, who has written critically of the easy co-opting of tropicalismo in the form of what she terms "low anthropophagy": if anthropophagy "played a role in the radicality of the counter-cultural experience of young Brazilians in the 1960s and 70s", she writes, "it now tends to contribute to a soft adaptation of the neoliberal environment, as the country proved to be a veritable athletic champion of market-friendly flexibility". Suely Rolnik, "Avoiding False Problems: Politics of the Fluid, Hybrid, and Flexible", e-flux 25 (May 2011). Available at http://www.e-flux.com/journal/ 25/67892/avoiding-false-problems-politics-of-the-fluid-hybrid-and-flexible/. 34 Oiticica, "Tropicбlia" (4 March 1968), AHO/PHO 0128/68.
it might even be possible to detect an antagonism, or at least a desire to rethink Brazil's identity from another perspective. In any case, the films and the texts that accompany them have been selected for what they might have to say about Tropicбlia today, and how as films, and texts about films, they might collectively remind us of the diversity of media that helped to forge this unique, intense moment in Brazilian cultural history. It is quite fitting, then, that the selections here begin with a discussion of a film at the intersection of music and cinema, a crucible responsible in part for the formation of tropicalismo; indeed, according to Caetano Veloso, the veritable sine qua non
of the movement was nothing less than the singer's experience of viewing Glauber's landmark work, Terra em Transe (1967). Even more than the presence of traditional candomblй music at the beginning and end of the film, for Caetano its most significant contribution was as a liberating "assault on left-wing populism," which reimagined "the people" not as a faceless multitude, but as a living, breathing, and contradictory collection of individuals resistant to being harnessed by any particular politics or demagoguery. The following essay, by Robert Stam, extends Caetano's insights about the film's commentary on populism, and analyses how Glauber's work made possible the different modes of tropicalist cinema that followed, and which sought to interpret the place of revolutionary aesthetics in a country that was at that point on the verge of a second military coup. In this, the film is alarmingly prescient, both in regards to the events that would unfold just a year after its release, and to those more recent upheavals in the country. We are now a full fifty years from the film's release, but its concerns seem just as pressing today as they were then; indeed, one cannot help but consider the way that the political crisis depicted in Terra em Transe mirrors the abject failure of politics in Brazil circa 2017. In aesthetic terms, too, the film also continues to speak to filmmakers in Brazil and elsewhere, its radical formal gestures still a necessary call to arms in today's independent cinematic landscape. In this vein, a third essay by critic and programmer Ela Bittencourt reflects on the contemporaneity of the film from another vantage point, especially considering what it might have to say today about the position of women in times of political struggle, and in the film industry, both behind and in front of the camera.
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (The Red Light Bandit, 1968), was to take Glauber's renovation of Cinema Novo even further. Rogйrio Sganzerla's debut feature entered the realms of parody and of the carnivalesque in a more liberated way than that of his predecessor, layering the true story of the eponymous Sгo Paulo criminal Joгo Acбcio Pereira da Costa with an unexpected slew of allusions and a heady cross-pollination of genres. Included here is his manifesto titled "Outlaw Cinema," in which Sganzerla would write of his debts to directors as diverse as Keaton and Rossellini, and would advise viewers that he had made "a western, but also a musical, a documentary, a cop film, a comedy (or is that slapstick?), and science fiction
." If this blending of styles already suggested a clean break with Cinema Novo, there would be other more explicit signs of a cinema in transition: where Glauber's Dragгo da Maldade contra o Santo Guerreiro (Antфnio das Mortes, 1969) opens with a colourful triptych showing St. George defeating the dragon, Sganzerla infamously elected to include the same image towards the end of O Bandido, where it can be seen going up in flames.35 In his essay, "Red Light Bandit : Allegory and Irony," Ismail Xavier briefly discusses this moment in the film, but points to a much wider variety of differences between Sganzerla and Glauber. Here, he writes, "irony and self-mockery replace eloquence and drama," and "commentary prevails over action" as the fragmentation of the narrative and of the images offers a completely different vision of Brazilian modernity, putting on show a country inhabited by fringe-dwellers and outsiders. For Xavier, O Bandido offers "a typically tropicalist juxtaposition of urban and rural elements," and digests the logic of mass media
as it clashes with the folkloric. Interestingly, Sganzerla himself would deny his association with tropicalismo early on; when Glauber accused Sganzerla of producing "tropicalist paraphernalia," the younger director retorted that only the worst filmmakers in Brazil (here he singles out Joaquim Pedro de Andrade and Walter Lima Jr.)
35 Robert Stam, "On the Margins: Brazilian Avant-Garde Cinema", in Brazilian Cinema, ed. Randal Johnson and Robert Stam, 318.
indulged in tropicalist filmmaking, and that in fact they failed in this task.36 And yet, there is an undeniable air of tropicalismo that pervades O Bandido, perhaps proving something of an exception to the rule in Sganzerla's work in this period.37 The change of direction in the work of Sganzerla is not the only way of tracking the shift from Cinema Novo to Cinema Marginal; in terms of performance, the career trajectory of Helena Ignez, who first starred in Glauber's Pбtio (1959), and soon moved on to become one of the co-founders (with Sganzerla and Jъlio Bressane) of Belair Films, offers another means of indexing this change. While Sganzerla would claim that Ignez had "always been a creative and original force," and had excelled in films like Assalto o Trem Pagador (Assault on the Pay Train, Robert Farias, 1962) and O Padre e o Moзa (The Priest and the Girl, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1966), the director also emphasised that her roles in his films had revealed her best work.38 Ignez had observed this development in her own work from the early days with Sganzerla, suggesting that her `intoxication' with Cinema Novo would never have allowed her to act as she did in films like A Mulher de Todos (Everyone's Woman, Sganzerla, 1969), which represents a radically different version of her performance style.39 A more recent interview between Ignez and Albert Elduque is included here, and sees the actress recalling this juncture in her career once again, now with the addition of more than four decades' hindsight. In addition to the distinct approaches of Glauber and Sganzerla, the filmmaker and video artist Arthur Omar offered something of a third way in the following decade with his "anti-documentary" film, Triste Trуpico (1974).
36 "Helena A Mulher de Todos E seu Homem: Entrevista com Rogйrio Sganzerla e Helena Ignez", O Pasquim n. 33 (5-11 Feb. 1970). Available at http://tropicalia.com.br/en/leiturascomplementares/helena-a-mulher-de-todos-e-seu-homem. 37 Fernгo Ramos argues that while, for the most part, Cinema Marginal did not aspire to the allegorical tendencies of tropicalismo, Sganzerla's O Bandido offers a unique point of difference. Ramos, Cinema Marginal (1968/1973): a representaзгo em seu limite (Sгo Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, 1987), 79-80. 38 "Helena A Mulher de Todos E seu Homem". 39 "Helena A Mulher de Todos E seu Homem".
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
Here, in an unpublished interview made in the year of the film's release with an interlocutor known only as "M," Omar discusses his new film about a doctor who travels to Europe and who upon his return becomes a messianic figure in a rural community and explains its position in the cinematic landscape. For Omar, Cinema Novo and Cinema Marginal were the Scylla and Charybdis or what he calls the "two knives" that had marked the past decade, and in between which he had elected to chart a course, refusing the complacency of tradition and the reactionary drive of the avant-garde (and avoiding, despite what the title of his film may suggest, an overemphasis on tropicality). Ever the polemicist, Omar followed this train of thought in his incredibly prescient and complex essay on the future of documentary cinema, "O Antidocumentбrio, Provisoriamente" ("The Anti-Documentary, Provisionally"). For Omar, writing in 1978, the documentary film had (for the most part) slavishly followed the model of narrative feature filmmaking, which for him was only ever the art of spectacle. As such, the documentarian, whose task it had been to remain detached from their object of study, and so merely to "document," was now helpless but to turn that object of study into the spectacle familiar to fiction filmmaking. In order to venture beyond this impasse, and to win back for the form something of its original purpose, Omar saw that documentary filmmaking
needed to venture beyond both traditional and radical modes. And so he proposed the "anti-documentary," a form that would be more flexible in relation to its subject, and more open in relation to its viewer; rather than following the time-honoured strategies of the traditional documentary, or staking a contrarian claim against that tradition ("the radicality proposed by the so-called experimental vanguard, in fact, is limited to bordering the continent of the classic film, whipping its flanks"40), the anti-documentary would possess a certain self-awareness of its own function as a cultural object, just as it attempted to document and contain other cultural objects
. These are objects that, as the reference to Claude Lйvi-Strauss in the title Triste Trуpico reveals, are
40 "A radicalidade proposta pela chamada vanguard experimental, na verdade limitase a bordejar o continente do filme clбssico, fustigando-lhe os flancos". Arthur Omar, "O antidocumentario, provisoriamente", Revista de Cultura Vozes (Petrуpolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), vol. 72, no. 6 (1978): 408.
those that are disappearing in contemporary culture
, arousing a certain kind of melancholia in the process of their documentation.41 With the director setting himself an impossibly transcendent goal, Triste Trуpico thus emerges as a reflexive mockumentary avant la lettre, a film that "makes its case for creating a distance for the observer to analyse the object at hand," yet at the same time "is not ethnographic in itself but is about the way in which ethnographic objects are potentially treated." And its strategy for doing so is, in part, an intermedial one. As Omar points out, the film "adopts the posture of an almanac, the fragmentation of an almanac, a posture that, when taken up, becomes an attempt to re-examine the highly problematic way in which History has been treated and manipulated in Brazil's great historical films of the last five years." Film as fragmented almanac levied against the hegemonic narratives of history. Omar's interview is here joined by a short piece by Pedro Neves Marques, a writer and filmmaker from Lisbon who in his work has focused on the legacies of anthropophagy in Brazilian culture, as well as its meaning in a Global context
. In this vein, his film-essay Where to Sit at the Dinner Table? (2013) also offers itself as a piece in fragments, made up of "appropriations and original sequences," and is an attempt to introduce cannibalism into contemporary debates about ecological matters.42 In a more recent work, Semente Exterminadora (Exterminator Seed, 2017) Neves Marques has created something more akin to a hybrid sci-fi narrative, blending a fictional encounter between an indigenous android and an oil-rig worker with the speculative exploration of a future whose seeds have been sewn in transgenic agriculture.
41 Omar also writes about this feeling of loss in connection with the variety of Brazilian popular arts and crafts in the documentaries produced by the Hungarian emigre Thomas Farkas. Omar, "O antidocumentario", 412. 42 Neves Marques' work is informed in part by the updating of anthropophagy in the anthropological writing of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, who reinterprets the cannibalist act of the Amerindian peoples as not simply the consumption of flesh, but as the occupying of another perspective. This perspectivism, he argues, reconceives the human in relation to various living and non-living forms, and so constitutes not simply an epistemology, but an ontology. See Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Cannibal Metaphysics, ed. and trans. Peter Skafish (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 2014). For a thorough compendium of literature related to anthropophagy, see Neves Marques' edited collection, The Forest and the School/Where to Sit at the Dinner Table?
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
Here, the tropicalist focus on the iconic banana tree shifts to the recent mass export of different national crops soya and corn. In his essay, "How to Film Light Beings?," Neves Marques draws out the tensions in his work between the categorisation and instrumentalisation of the natural world
, the drive to quantification inherent in digital technologies, and the more capacious perspectivism of Amerindian societies, and asks: "how can film, reflecting upon the encounter between disparate worlds that is, the possibility of connections and speculations between cosmologies participate in a plural cosmopolitics?" Embracing a plurality of perspectives and materials has always been part of the tropicalist strategy. In its turning away from the formalist intensifications of modernism, tropicalismo expressed itself in a process of sampling, appropriation, and pastiche; against the modernism of bossa nova, as Nicholas Brown has argued, the MPB (Popular Brazilian Music) that can be heard on the Tropicбlia LP marks it as "one of the first postmodernisms."43 The same was true of the montage strategies in films like O Bandido and the similarly-inspired O Pornуgrafo (Joгo Callegaro, 1970), whose aesthetics as declared in the "Theory of Cinema Cafajeste," a manifesto written in the spirit of Sganzerla's own were "those of the review theatre, barber-shop conversations, and of the semi-pornographic magazines."44 This affinity for elevating the quotidian and the banal is equally in evidence with the revival of the outmoded and the forgotten in tropicalist art, a process that reveals a new means of perceiving the contemporary moment. Indeed, as Schwarz has remarked, "it is precisely in the effort to find suggestive and dated materials with which they allegorize their atemporal idea of Brazil that the tropicalists get their best results. That is why their films, plays and songs look like and sound like inventories, presenting as much material as possible, so that it can undergo a process of allegorical activation."45
43 Nicholas Brown, Utopian Generations: The Political Horizon of Twentieth-Century Literature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press, 2005), 177. 44 "Й a estйtica do teatro de revista, das conversas de salгo de barbeiro, das revistas semipornogrбficas". Pressbook for the film As Libertinas, September 1968, cited in Jairo Ferreira, Cinema de Invenзгo, 3rd edition (Rio de Janeiro: Azougue Editorial, 2016), 101. 45 Schwarz, Misplaced Ideas, 144.
This strategy is certainly true of many films from the period. But there are other traditions of appropriation in Brazilian film history that seek to preserve something of the integrity and vibrancy of imported images, and there are many examples of found footage filmmaking in Brazil that venture beyond irony, parody, and allegory, taking a different approach to this practice of borrowing, repurposing, and quoting from what has come before. As early as 1931, Mario Peixoto inserted a scene from Chaplin's The Adventurer (1917) in his film Limite, an homage to the individual after whom the Chaplin Club the group devoted to silent cinema in Rio that first screened Peixoto's film was named. Today, undoubtedly spurred on by the recent ease of access to moving images by way of digital technology, found footage cinema has become more of a commonplace in Brazil. But the increasing proliferation of images in this historical moment has also met with the neglect and destruction of film in its analogue formats. This is painfully clear with the parlous state of the national archive today, encapsulated in the literal and metaphorical gutting of Sгo Paulo's Cinemateca Brasileira: the February 2016 fire that robbed the institution of one thousand rolls of nitrate film was preceded (and followed) by the cutting of many of the staff, or their reduction to the precarity of short-term contract work, and the slowed pace with which the existing materials can be archived in digital repositories. With found footage cinema, there is an attempt to perform some of this work by bringing the archive into the light, showcasing what often remains hidden or inaccessible. Indeed, it seems to be the driving force guiding much of the production of such films over the last two decades in Brazil.46 This is especially true for the experimental work of Carlos Adriano, a filmmaker operating at times in a structuralist mode,
46 In this respect we can think of a long list of films, to which many more could certainly be added: Alfeu Franзa's recovery operation of Flбvio de Carvalho's unfinished film, The White Goddess in his 2013 documentary of the same name; Histуrias que nosso cinema nгo contava (Stories That Our Cinema Didn't Tell, 2017), Fernanda Pessoa's sweeping survey of pornochanchadas, which uses images from a variety of films as a vehicle for narrating the history of the dictatorship; Joгo Moreira Salles' exploration of global political struggle in the 1960s in No Intenso Agora (In the Intense Now, 2017); Joel Pizzini's body of work, including Glauces: estudo de um rosto (Glauces: Study of a Face, 2001) and Mar de Fogo (Sea of Fire, 2014), as well as Anabazys (2007) and Milagrez (2008), the documentaries he made with Paloma Rocha in the course
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
and who in all his work borrows and reorders images from the Brazilian cinematic archive.47 This is a history that begins in 1897, with the first Brazilian film a mere eleven frames depicting a wave crashing into a jetty, frames that in Adriano's hands are set to completely new cadences. Adriano's practice forms the focus of the following two chapters. The first, a personal account by Adriano himself, touches on some of his interlocutors in the archival tradition, including Aby Warburg and Georges Didi-Hubermann, but also his late partner, Bernardo Vorobow, formerly an archivist at the Cinemateca. The second is Scott MacDonald's warm reflection on another of Adriano's films, Sem Titulo #1: Dance of Leitfossil (2013-2014), which combines images of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with a deceptively complex pop song, resulting in a beautiful meditation on loss and restoration in film as in life. The very first germ that set these dialogues between films in motion is a particular, intentional resonance between two works: Glauber's final film, A Idade da Terra, and Ana Vaz's similarly-named 2013 experimental short, A Idade da Pedra (The Age of Stone). The first, a baroque, exhausting, exhilarating vision of Brazilian history, is here described in great detail by one of its editors, the late Ricardo Miranda. In an interview with Albert Elduque from 2011, published here for the first time, Miranda discloses many fascinating aspects of the film's production, including the geographical separation of its editing process divided between Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasнlia (the three historical capitals of Brazil) and the ways in which the film's montage was, at Glauber's behest, attuned to the rhythms of a carnival tambourine.
of restoring Glauber's films; Taego Гwa (Marcela and Henrique Borela, 2015), which incorporates footage from the Vнdeo nas Aldeias Indigenous archive; Sacris Pulso (Ana Vaz, 2007); Confidente (Confident, Karen Akerman and Miguel Seabra Lopes, 2016); A Maldiзгo Tropical (Tropical Curse, Luisa Marques and Darks Miranda, 2016); Passeio Pъblico (Public Sidewalk, Andrйa Franзa and Nicholas Andueza, 2016); and the essay films of Arthur Tuoto, including his recent Nгo Me Fale Sobre Recomeзos (Don't Talk to Me About New Beginnings, 2016). 47 For Adriano's own history of experimental cinema in Brazil, see Carlos Adriano, "Brazilian Specificity", in Caderno SESC_Videobrasil 03 n. 3 (Sгo Paulo: Ediзoes SESC, Associaзгo Videobrasil, 2007), 26-33.
A Idade da Terra certainly has certainly divided its audiences: despite early champions like Michelangelo Antonioni, its frosty reception at Venice is well documented, and its intimidating will-to-totalisation (its "four Christs" encompassing multiple aspects of Brazilian society) continues to present a forbidding experience for any viewer. Today, the unrelenting insistence on the "Third World" in Glauber's film appears as something of an anachronism especially given Brazil's rise as a BRICS power over the last decade and in Vaz's work such vestiges of colonialism morph into something completely different. The opening shot of the sun rising over the planalto mimics the same in A Idade da Terra, but from that point on the languid images move in a different direction, exploring the affinities and tensions between people, plants, and rocks, and seeking out modest glimpses of life wherever it transpires. Perhaps most captivating here is the way that the digital communes with the analogue, courtesy of a large fictional structure that inhabits the space of a quarry; it too has life, and its appearance throws the entire world of the film into sharp relief. In an invited contribution, Vaz writes of the process of making her film, and reflects on its debt to and departures from Glauber's approach to the dawn of Brasнlia, which "finally allows for the ghosts of the city's pre-history to furiously return." As a critical rejoinder to A Idade da Terra, Vaz's film casts the capital in a speculative register, which decides against a didactic approach, and instead "tries to evade the verbose excess of its predecessor in a vow of silence as a form of listening." The penultimate strand of the program focuses on experiences of exile, here discovering the comparable trajectories from Rio to New York and back again of Hйlio Oiticica and another artist whose work in Super 8 filmmaking is far more obscure: Jorge O Mourгo. We begin with Ivan Cardoso, a prominent figure early on in Brazil's Super 8 history, who, working together with the poet Torquato Neto on Nosferatu no Brasil (1970), would create the first example of what he would call the "Quotidianas Kodaks." The script for Cardoso's later H.O. (1979), his experimental short about Oiticica's work (shot in 35mm), is included here, and as a title in the film remarks resembles a poem by Sousвndrade, or one of Eisenstein's ideogrammatic screenplays. Oiticica, who in H.O. appears almost as a character from one of Cardoso's terrir films, had made his own Super 8 films in New York in the first half of the 1970s, famously
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
capturing the drag artist Mario Montez throwing dice in the street with Antonio Dias in Agrippina й Roma Manhattan (1972).48 More famous still were his Cosmococas, a series of installations orchestrated with the help of Neville D'Almeida in Oiticica's Manhattan loft, and which featured slide projections of different celebrities Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix overlaid with cocaine. In his crucial contribution, Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz directly considers the place of cocaine in Oiticica's work, a substance that remains contentious and undertheorized in such discussions. For Cruz, Oiticica's cocaine is habitually treated either as pigment or as symbol, but rarely if ever is it mentioned as a part of Oiticica's life. By engaging with the uses of cocaine beyond its artistic instrumentalisation, Cruz writes, it is also possible to consider Oiticica's drive to push art outside of the museum, where it forms part of the various relations of life itself: "The cocaine in the Cosmococas is what crystallizes these relations; it is the substance everything else revolves around, that seems to contain everything already. The cocaine itself is a relation first of all." The relations of cocaine to artistic production are foregrounded even more in the following text, the first two chapters of Jorge O Mourгo's beat memoir, Brazilian Connection, translated into English here for the first time. If Oiticica's most prominent association with cocaine can be reduced to pigment/symbol, Mourгo's writing reveals a different picture altogether. For Mourгo, who operated as a supplier in New York in the early 1970s, cocaine was a means to an end, through which he was able to support Teresa and Koki (his wife and child), and could occupy a loft space like Oiticica's, replete with "16mm and Super 8 cameras and projectors, a slide projector, recorders, pick-ups, hundreds of records and tapes and everything else a communications junkie might need." Although he would go on to make a great number of Super 8 films during the decade, both in New York and in Rio, Mourгo's association with cocaine effectively produced his memoir: a work that depicts with sustained intensity a man who mingled with Miles Davis and Joгo Gilberto,
48 For more on Oiticica's work with Montez, see Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, "TROPICAMP: Some Notes on Hйlio Oiticica's 1971 Text", Afterall 28 (Winter 2011). Available at https://www.afterall.org/journal/issue.28/tropicamp-pre-and-post-tropic-lia-at-once-somecontextual-notes-onh-lio-oiticica-s-1971-te.
who petitioned the Brazilian government after their censorship of Picasso's work, and who was later forced to flee the United States with his family, on the run from the FBI. Back in Brazil, Mourгo established another loft in Rio, continuing what he referred to as the Archivos Impossibles this archive, which contains many unseen works in Super 8, continues to grow today. Closing this section, Rubens Machado considers Super 8 filmmakers like Mourгo, surveying the rise of a format whose portability and affordability would allow many radical artists in and out of Brazil to capture aspects of life under the dictatorship. As time outside of Brazil would drive the work of both Oiticica and Mourгo, so too would exile dictate the final form of O Rei da Vela (The King of the Candle, Josй Celso Martinez Corrкa and Noilton Nunes, 1982), the last feature-length film in the program. Originally conceived in 1967 as the documentation of the first performance of Oswald's play of the same name (written thirty years earlier), work on the film was interrupted in 1974, when Zй Celso was arrested and fled the country, smuggling the negatives along with him. Returning to Brazil after some time in Europe and in Mozambique, Zй Celso commenced production on O Rei da Vela once more, working alongside Nunes and adding to the scenes of the adapted play excerpts of home video footage, as well as archival images and scenes from anti-police protests. Although the finished film finally premiered at Gramado in 1983 and so presents a sustained dialogue with the 1970s, the interim decade in its production history O Rei da Vela was presented in a more complete form only in November 2016. The result is an intermedial work par excellence, in which three acts of filmed theatre are rearranged between an array of different materials, and the line between film and stage play (and happening) is continually crossed. Zй Celso still presides over Teatro Oficina to this day, and the continuation of the company constitutes one of the strongest connections to the 1960s. Texts here from the film's two directors a manifesto about the staging of the play written in 1967 by Zй Celso; a cri de coeur arguing for the restoration of the film written in 2012 by Nunes are presented as an echo in words of the film's delayed production and exhibition. Rounding out the catalogue are three essays on a short film/installation forged in the true spirit of an inter-generational dialogue. Barravento Novo (Eder Santos and Bruce Yonemoto, 2017), takes as its point of departure
INTRODUCTION TO TROPICБLIA AND BEYOND
the rebellious performance of Antфnio Pitanga in Glauber's Barravento (1962), and then responds in kind by having Antфnio's daughter Camila on a separate screen repeating her father's lines.49 Camila, an actress of several films and many telenovelas, is also the director (with Beto Brant) of the recent Pitanga (2016), a documentary about her father's storied career as a key figure of Cinema Novo; the meeting of the two Pitangas in this new work emphasises political and aesthetic as well as familial connections over the last half-century. It is the intention of this catalogue, and of the exhibition with which it shares a name, that Tropicбlia might be seen as a moment of artistic production that remains vibrant and relevant today. Here, through a collection of words and still images, there is also the hope that a dialogue might be allowed to develop between the array of films, texts, and media under discussion, and that the tropicalist aspect of Brazilian film history might be brought into focus.
49 The Pitanga family line is represented here in triplicate, with Camila's daughter Antфnia singing at the opening of the film.