News Column

Wexner Center plans big salute to culture of emerging force

December 1, 2013

YellowBrix

Dec. 01--The biggest country in South America will loom large during the winter and spring at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The contemporary-art center at Ohio State University will present "Via Brasil," with dance and music, an exhibition and a documentary series -- all representative of the increasing worldwide influence of Brazil.

The events mark the culmination of a four-year initiative.

"The culture of Brazil is so vibrant across so many disciplines," said Sherri Geldin, director of the Wexner Center.

"Brazil as a nation has emerged as a global force, with changes going on that made it seem interesting, so we're not just mining the same territory. We developed a fresh lens."

The Brazil program was made possible largely from a $782,300 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is the first time that the center has spent three years to research the contemporary culture of a specific nation. Wexner curators visited Brazil (also the most populous nation in South America) several times to meet with artists, academics, curators and galleries to identify emerging and established artists whose works deserve to be included in the program.

"A checklist began to emerge, circling back again and again on certain names -- many of whom have never been seen outside Brazil and certainly not in the United States," Geldin said.

About 70 Brazilian artists will be involved. Of the 35 artists whose works will be shown in the visual-arts exhibit, six have created or are creating new pieces for the multidisciplinary program, which encompasses painting, sculpture, photography, installations, film, video, dance and music.

"The generation of artists we're focusing on all came of age in a dictatorship, ... and their work grew out of the particular social and economic situation," Geldin said.

"There has been this vibrancy of creative expression that has exploded with the end of the dictatorship (in 1985)."

The visual-art component, "Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil," will open on Feb. 1 and run through April 20 in all four of the center's galleries. It is billed as the biggest and most expansive U.S. exhibition of contemporary Brazilian art and will present almost 50 recent, new and site-specific works by the 35 artists, many of whom have not exhibited in the United States.

The film series, "Cruzamentos: Contemporary Brazilian Documentary," will offer the largest survey -- 24 full-length films, plus eight short films and one short film program -- of Brazilian documentaries ever presented in North America.

Both the exhibit and the film series will tour.

Wayne Lawson, former director of the Ohio Arts Council, is familiar with international partnerships, having led efforts between Ohio and Argentina, the Czech Republic, Germany and, especially, Chile.

"Bringing brand-new artists from a country that most people don't know opens up all sorts of windows to learn," Larson said.

"Most people just know that Brazil is big, has one of the largest economies and will host the Olympics," he added. "I'm excited by the fact that this is a four-year program and not simply one-time hit-and-miss. It's comprehensive. ... One of the most important aspects of cultural exchanges is the soft cultural power of listening to each other's culture."

More specifics of "Via Brasil":

Unless noted, events will take place in the Wexner performance space, 1871 N. High St.

Film

--The series (in the film/video theater, 1871 N. High St.) will include Iracema (Jan. 29), a blend of fiction and documentary about a teenager from the Amazon on a road trip to the big city; and the first showing outside of Brazil of ABC of a Strike (Jan. 22), Leon Hirsman's posthumous film about 1979 metal-workers strikes led by "Lula," who rose to become Brazil's president from 2003 to 2010.

Dance

--Companhia Urbana de Danca, a dance troupe led by choreographer Sonia Destri, will present the U.S. premiere of Eu Danco -- 8 Solos No Geral (Feb. 28, Riffe Center's Capitol Theatre, 77 S. High St.), a concert blending hip-hop, urban and contemporary movements.

--A concert of solo movement works will be presented by action artist Michel Groisman. (Feb. 6 -9)

Music

--Guitarist-composer Gary Lucas will perform his original music for the 1967 cult horror film Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadaver (This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse) in a concert with the projected film. (March 1, film-video theater)

--Cyro Baptista's quartet Banquet of the Spirits will perform Afro-Brazilian sounds, samba, jazz and "global exotica." (March 6)

--Brazilian hip-hop musician Criolo will perform as part of his first U.S. tour. (April 5, Black Box on Mershon Stage, 1871 N. High St.)

Tickets, ranging from $6 to $23, will go on sale Dec. 12, or today for members.

For more information, call 614-292-3535 or visit www.wexarts.org.

mgrossberg@dispatch.com

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(c)2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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