Michelle Sommer – Abstract

Perspectives of social in Brazilian contemporary art: discussing project Comboio, Favela Moinho, 31st Bienal de São Paulo

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Since the 2000, the preoccupations with the social dimensions of art have given rise to new strategies in the intersection between art and political activism in Brazil. In the early 70s, already worried about the encroachment of the entertainment industry in art, the critics Mário Pedrosa (1900-1981) proposes political action as the only way to break the circle, creating new conditions for the emergency of a new man and the flourishing of a new art. Within this context, this paper critically discusses “the uses of art” through project Comboio at Favela Moinho, São Paulo, in the context of the 31st Bienal de São Paulo. The Comboio acts in “informal spaces” in the central area of São Paulo and describes itself as a project of research and urban intervention. As the last remaining favela in central São Paulo, Moinho provides a crucial counterpoint in cultural terms and conditions to the Bienal, located in Ibirapuera Park. Can this be seen as a contemporary example of what Mario Pedrosa called, in his criticism of art and politics, of “authentic artists” who distinguish themselves from the “silkworm” of mass production to take up the defensive position of what he calls “rearguard art”?

Keywords: uses of art; Mario Pedrosa; 31st Bienal de São Paulo.