This program of rarely seen video art from Brazil was discerningly introduced by ICA’s Jeffrey Bussmann and Glenn Phillips of the Getty Research Institute. Bussmann, who organized the event in conjunction with his microexhibition Videoarte Brasil as part of ICA@50, explained how an international call for examples of the new form from then-ICA-Director Suzanne Delehanty, while organizing her groundbreaking 1975 show, Video Art, jumpstarted the production of such work in Brazil. (Delehanty was in the audience for the program.) Bussmann also described the role of Walter Zanini, the influential Brazilian curator and museum director, in conveying Delehanty’s call to Brazilian artists, and highlighted how, to bypass the bureaucracy plaguing the nation, video equipment had to be brought into the country and the completed videos taken out via diplomatic pouch. An image of Delehanty’s original letter to Zanini, currently on view in Brazil’s Museu de Arte Contemporânea at the University of São Paulo, was a poignant reminder of how curators worked before in the pre-internet era. During his remarks, Glenn Phillips—a major expert on international video art—noted that Delehanty’s catalogue for the show has been his bible for decades. He discussed the effects of burgeoning globalism on the development of video art in the 1970s; the role of ICI (then Independent Curators Incorporated) in bringing the American portion of the ICA show to Brazil; and how Brazilian artists found in video an ideal form for registering protest against the oppression under which they lived. Some of the videos screened during the varied program—by Sônia Andrade, Angelo de Aquino, Fernando Cocchiarale, Antônio Dias, Anna Bella Geiger, Geraldo Anhaia Mello, Letícia Parente, and others—were originally shown in ICA’s 1975 show, while others came from different sources, giving the audience a broad overview of work from the 1970s. The evening, which coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the military coup in Brazil, concluded with a celebration featuring Brazilian snacks from BrazBQ.
ICA@50: Videoarte Brasil exhibition card (front)ICA@50: Videoarte Brasil exhibition card (back)