“We know and walk together”: Contemporary Indigenous Art in Brazil


Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:20pm

For a recording of this event, please click here.

SpeakersClaudia Mattos Avolese, Associate Professor, UNICAMP; Naine Terena, Artist, Art-educator, and Professor, Catholic University in Mato Grosso

Moderated by: Ana Laura Malmaceda, PhD student in Romance Languages, Harvard University

One of the most exciting developments in Brazilian art and art history today is the emergence of Indigenous self-representation. The growing presence of Indigenous artists and art curators in exhibitions and museums in the country challenges traditional narratives and modes of display, as it generates new spaces for the silenced voices of the over three hundred Indigenous ethnic groups that inhabit the territories of Brazil. In 2017, the Rio de Janeiro Museum (MAR) organized the exhibition “Dja Guata Porã” (To walk together well), co-curated by the Guarani-Nhandewa Sandra Benites, who now is part of the curatorial staff of the upcoming “Indigenous Histories” exhibition at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP). In October 2020 the Pinacoteca de São Paulo opened the exhibition “Véxoa: we know”, curated by Naine Terena. These events were important landmarks in the process of acknowledging the presence and value of Indigenous artists within the Brazilian contemporary art world. In this talk, Prof. Claudia Mattos Avolese and Indigenous curator Naine Terena will discuss these exhibitions and the work of some of the Indigenous artists represented in them, thinking of how they have brought changes in local curatorial and museological practices, contributing to the growing presence of Indigenous production in the Brazilian and international art scene.

Claudia Mattos Avolese has a PhD in Art History from the Freie Universitãt Berlin (1996) and a post-doc at the Courtauld Institute in London (2001). She is currently the Associate Professor for the History of Art at the Art Institute in Unicamp, and in the Humanities Institute Encamp (IFCH). Avolese studies Art History, including 19th Century Landscape in Brazil, 20th century modernism and 18th Century research on Winckelmann. She was the main researcher of the FAPESP Thematic Group: "Plus Ultra: the reception of and transference of classical art tradition between the Mediterranean and Latin America". Avolese was a visiting Scholar at the Getty Research Center between Jan. and March 2012, coordinator of the Getty Connecting Art Histories Project:"Expanding Art History: teaching non-European art at Unicamp" (2013-2016). She was the President of the Brazilian Art Historical Committee (CBHA) for the period 2013-2016. Avolese was the Cisneiros Visiting Scholar at the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard (Spring 2017).

Naine Terena lives in Cuiabá (MT), in the central west of Brazil, and transits through various areas of knowledge and cultural production: in addition to her work as a visual artist, she is a researcher and professor. She has curated, among other works, the exhibition Véxoa: Nós sabemos (Véxoa: We Know, October 2020/April 2021), housed in the Pinacoteca of São Paulo, with works by 23 indigenous artists and collectives. She has a Master’s in Art from the University of Brasília, a Doctorate in Education from PUC-São Paulo and did a postdoc at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT). She is one of the organizers of the book Povos indígenas no Brasil: Perspectivas no fortalecimento de lutas e combate ao preconceito por meio do audiovisual (Indigenous Peoples in Brazil: Perspectives on Strengthening the Struggles and Fight against Discrimination through the Audiovisual), published in 2018. In 2019, she was one of the five finalists of the Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice, awarded by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, in New York (USA). Currently, she is developing an app for teaching the Terena language in indigenous schools in Mato Grosso.

Ana Laura Malmaceda is a writer and Ph.D. student in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, where she studies ecological thinking and practices of regeneration in the Anthropocene through the perspectives of Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian epistemologies. During 2015-17 she worked on a master’s degree in Brazilian Studies at the University of Lisbon (2017), when she was also an exchange student at the CREPAL (Centre de recherches sur les pays lusophones) at the Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris III. She is currently working on a secondary field in Critical Media Practice.

Presented in collaboration with Portuguese Program, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard UniversityPeabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, Harvard University Native American Program, and Harvard Art Museums