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Episodes of the South Museal Episodes I

Salvador da Bahia 14.-17. Oktober 2015


Episodes of the South Museal Episodes I

Salvador de Bahia. 14. - 17. Oktober 2015 Report Pablo Lafuente For the Maxakali, an indigenous people who resides in the northeast of Minas Gerais, relatives are those whom you exchange fluids with. So, according to this conception, a period of time in which a group of people exchange fluids, regardless of the duration, creates a family one that, if the exchange is intense enough, might even outlast the time spent together. During those four days of the first Museal Episode in Salvador, organised by the Goethe Institut, fluids were exchanged. MAM-BA, Salvador The Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, under the direction of Marcelo Rezende, the meeting host, comes across as a fluid institution. The office space is also the exhibition space, the reception, discussion and presentation space. Other places in the museum have specific functions, but their use and occupation appears, in principle, open. The fluidity of space is meant to allow for a fluidity of relations. Cooking and eating together with the museum staff was a literal exchange of fluids, while conversing with each other and among the staff was perhaps its metaphorical version. It is possible to relate this dynamic to the pedagogical emphasis under which the MAM-BA was created in its current location in 1963, by Lina Bo Bardi, and that Rezende is attempting to bring back. The art institution MAM-BA seems to consider its fundamental role one of education not as dissemination or transmission of information, but through the creation of relations that might have transformative effects, at different scales, with different languages and accents. In that context, the exchange of fluids that took place in the meeting was also a pedagogical process for all involved. And thus, Bruno Marcellos drawing diary of those days shows the group gathered in culture circles, one of the now classic notions in Brazilian radical pedagogy. Salvador, Bahia The MAM-BA is right on the bay (bahia) of Salvador. It has its own beach. Its location on the recncavo baiano immediately relates the institution to the city and region, and their history a history of Bahia that could perhaps be the history of Brazil, if one narrative had to be chosen. A reflection on that memory, on what is conserved and how, and on how this contributes to Bahias and Brazils image today, was triggered by the groups (the family?) visit to the Arquivo Pblico do Estado, a place that has other memories and presences, prior to the archive itself as a Jesuit monastery, and as a lepers hospital. Like the bay of Salvador that gives its name to the state of Bahia, forgetting that there might be other Bahias, the process of conservation of memory that we call history is selective programmatically or not. As the intoxication that might be the possible outcome of an exchange of fluids around the table, especially in a foreign place (as it actually happened), the act of conservation that is proper to the museum can also cause malaise. But malaise can also be productive.

Acervo da Laje, Plataforma North of the MAM and the historical centre of Salvador is Plataforma, a neighbourhood that was born, in its current state, in the 19th century, but with an older history as a Tupinamb and later Jesuit village a history of destruction and invasion, but also of the struggle against slavery. Its lack of infrastructure and the absence of public administration create the opportunity (or force the need) for an internal network of relations in Plataforma, the fluids are exchanged internally, with very little flow from or towards the outside. The Acervo da Lage, a collection and a museum set up and run by Jos Eduardo Ferreira Santos, is a node in that network, a proof that the conservation of cultural practice can only happen through the relevance of the connections that are established with people and places. And that there might be a relation between intensity and scale. Bar de Ray e Lucy, Salvador The Museal Episode finished on Saturday evening, for some of us, with arrocha no Bar da Ray e Lucy. Arrocha is a style of music and dance that was born in the interior of Bahia in the 1970s, but that since the 2000s has become popular within the estate and the country. Its essentially popular music, with words that talk about delusions from love, accompanied by electronic keyboards. Its proliferation, like with other styles of Brazilian popular sound, is the result of informal but highly complex mechanisms of distribution and, importantly, of migration of masses of people for economic reasons, mostly from the north and northeast to the south of the country. And, partly because of these mechanisms, the class relation and the musics content, it is not appreciated or recognised by the middle and upper classes. But arrocha is culture in movement, and when listening and dancing to it, things flow. They flow in a way that creates temporary relations of an intensity that, perhaps, the museum should aspire to, if it is to learn from the south. Maxakali, Minas Gerais The maxakali used to inhabit the south of Bahia, but were displaced to their current territory by the European invasion. Their land is poor, their resources very few, but their cultural production (language, music, knowledge, worldview) is deep and complex. There is no maxakali museum, but the maxakali constantly create a museum of sorts: they make wooden versions of objects they cannot acquire because of their lack of resources, such as knifes, radios and mobile phones. These objects cannot work, but somehow they do. They cut, they communicate and, importantly, they exchange. And in this exchange they show a way to actually create relations that might make culture relate, be alive, matter.

Episodes of the South Museal Episodes I

Salvador de Bahia. 14. - 17. Oktober 2015 Report Zdenka Badovinac I came to Salvador with great anticipation, since the invitation to our first Museological Episode (ME) was formulated in such a challenging spirit that it piqued my interest and spurred me to start looking for comparisons between museum work in Latin America and my own work at the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana. Our very first meeting at the Bahias Museum of Modern Art (MAM-BA) triggered a chain of associations between the Latin American and Eastern European contexts. Historically, the 20th century in both spaces was marked by repressive regimes that curtailed the space for freedom and also with numerous, primarily leftist projects that variously involved alternative creative and educational processes, going beyond both mainstream methods and class borders. There is no division between exhibition and office spaces at the MAM-BA. While participating in the ME discussions, we too were seated in the exhibition space, so that every passing museum visitor could stop and listen. This, however, did not bother us in the slightest, we did not feel as though we were on a stage. MAM-BA has abolished the concept of an exhibition space as a neutral container. As a matter of fact, it has done away with representation, and with it, the institution that speaks in the name of art or anyone else. Also our hosts suggestion was in line with this: namely, that we, the participants of ME frame the program of our meeting as it progresses. This did occasion some faltering and a few misunderstandings, but it infused more spirit in our meeting. Our work is too rigidly structured and subject to programmed time anyway, which suppresses spontaneous reactions and thus creativity. The consequences of excessively structured life can be seen also in the current aspirations of art and museums for greater interactivity and participatoriness. So, how do we actually work? One of the associations that came to my mind at the MAM-BA was the Brechtian estrangement effect, the incessant disrupting of stage illusion, and at another moment Rodchenkos Futurist museology which called, immediately after the October Revolution, for replacing the passive visitor that merely contemplates art at the museum with a revolutionary subject. In formulating the concept of the Salvador Museum, Marcelo looked above all to Rudolf Steiners ideas, and his integral approach has helped me consider the issues of communities and relations with them, which I am currently deeply involved in in my work in Ljubljana. The Salvador situation is different. The Museum itself is located right in the middle of the community which it tries to integrate in its work. For the most part, European museums are located in the cultural and historical city centers and still have the task of representing the state rather than genuinely connecting with its actual citizens. However, things are also changing in Europe now, due to the massive exodus from the Middle East and Africa. Museums are already developing programs that would enable an easier integration of the new denizens. Despite this, European museums generally still tend to subscribe to the traditional understanding of heritage and invariable values.

Also in Salvador, our views on what can constitute heritage diverged. The differences that surfaced in our debates at least partly derive from the different contexts of the South and the North. The increasingly intense migrations all over the world prove that these differences can no longer be thought merely in terms of distinctions between different geographies. One of the discussions also touched upon the problems of shipping artworks and how such obstacles are changing our understanding of the concept of art. But despite such difficulties we can conclude that it is often far easier for art to travel around the world than for people. In Europe, there is a fear that it will be flooded by people of a different culture, as if culture and with it