Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) was one of the most innovative Brazilian artists of the twentieth century and is now recognised as a highly significant figure in the development of contemporary art. Oiticica produced an outstanding body of work, which had its origins in the legacy of European Modernism as it developed in Brazil in the 1950s. But his unique and radical investigations led Oiticica to develop his artistic production in ever more inventive directions.
Through his work he was to challenge the traditional boundaries of art, and its relationship with life, and to undermine the separation of the art-object from the viewer, whom he turned into an active participant. Among Oiticica’s most original achievements was his inventive and uncompromising use of colour.
This exhibition explores the dimension of colour as a vital focus of his work, from his early career onwards. It includes several related series of works which unfold in sequence, showing the conceptual and technical processes that led to the artist’s liberation of colour from the twodimensional realm of painting out into space, to be walked around and through, looked into, manipulated, inhabited and experienced. Oiticica emerged as an artist during a period of optimism in Brazil, before the utopian dream of a modern society was thwarted by the oppressive military regime in the 1960s. In the cultural sphere this period saw many new developments: the instigation of progressive architectural projects by Lúcio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer and others; important innovations in the worlds of avant-garde film, music, poetry, theatre and choreography; the establishment of the international Sao Paulo Biennale; and the founding of museums of modern art in both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
It was at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio that Oiticica was taught painting by the influential abstract artist Ivan Serpa. He later joined the Rio-based Grupo Frente, a radical art organisation founded by Serpa that also included the innovative artists Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape. Oiticica exhibited in the group’s second exhibition in 1955. His work from this period shows an affinity with the abstract idiom of the group, as well as the influence of modernist masters such as Paul Klee, Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. These early works, mature for such a young artist, contained the essence of what was to follow.
Oiticica began to disrupt the dense colouring and structure of his early paintings in a series of gouaches on board called Sécos 1956–7. These formed a transition into a major series begun in the following year, titled Metaesquemas 1957–8. In these spare compositions he sought to dissolve the two-dimensional picture plane by demolishing the suggestion of a frame, and deconstructing the grid structure with a dynamic combination of squares and rectangles in black, red, blue and white. The final pieces from this series were white abstract compositions, which eventually led to the series of white-on-white paintings, Série Branca (White Series) 1958-9. Here Oiticica explored ways of producing different tones of white, and experimented with layering and brush techniques to maximise the effect of light on the colour. He later referred to white as ‘the ideal colour-light, the synthesis-light of all colours’. Meanwhile he began working on a series of irregularly shaped double-sided white paintings, Bilaterais (Bilaterals) 1959. These were designed to hang from the ceiling, compelling the spectator to walk around them. Oiticica’s experimentation with the interaction between colour and light continued with a series of yellow and red monochromes, including triangular paintings, and the first in the series of Invenções (Inventions) 1959–62, painted structures composed of vertical layers of colour. Here he developed ways of experimenting with the physicality of colour that he later made use of in three-dimensional works.
In 1960 Oiticica joined the Neo-Concrete group, a Rio-based movement that broke with the principles of the Concrete movement that had originated in Sao Paulo, by reacting against its extreme rationalism and advocating an expanded creative freedom. Oiticica had by then begun the ground-breaking series of red and yellow painted hanging wood constructions, Spatial Reliefs 1960, which effectively liberated colour into three-dimensional space. He designed many maquettes for these complex forms, but few were built in full scale.
By the end of 1960 Oiticica had arrived at a synthesis of his experiments with colour. In his theoretical text Colour, Time and Structure of 1960 he referred to this integration of colour as ‘a supreme order similar to the supreme order of architectural spaces’. This thinking led to the concept he called ‘côr nuclear’ (nuclear colour) – embodied in a group of works in which colour ascends or descends in gradual hues from its centre. This series, called Núcleos (Nuclei) 1960–6, consists of open mazes of double-sided hanging panels of varying sizes and closely related colours. The first to be made was the Pequeno Núcleo no. 01 (Small Nucleus No. 01), which includes a mirror that enhances the light and colours, and reveals the viewers to themselves as active participants in the work. Three medium nuclei were eventually combined into a large-scale hanging environment to form the Grande Núcleo (Grand Nucleus) 1960–6. This spectacular work, with panels in tones of violet at the nuclear centre unfolding into a range of luminous yellows, amplified the spatial and temporal aspects of the Spatial Reliefs. By contrast the Penetrável (Penetrable) series 1960–79 consisted of closed labyrinthine environments, as in the large scale model of Projeto Cães de Caça (Hunting Dogs Project) 1961 (its title taken from a group of stars in the constellation of Orion). Like all Oiticica’s maquettes, this model was considered a work of art in its own right. Consisting of five chromatic penetrables, it was conceived as a monumental magic garden for intense aesthetic experience, and incorporated sand gardens and areas for the appreciation of music, poetry and theatre.
Oiticica continued to construct maquettes for colour environments, including the Magic Square maquettes of 1978, which were also conceived as large open-air penetrables. PN 1 Penetrável 1961 was the first free-standing penetrable, a small-scale cabin with sliding coloured panels, which the viewer was encouraged to enter and participate in the sensory experience. It was with this series that Oiticica felt that ‘the sense of spectator involvement reaches its apex and its justification’.
Oiticica began to work on the first Bólides (Fireballs) in 1963, after the completion of the Invenções (Inventions) series, through which he had discovered the means of infusing colour with depth and luminosity. The Bólides, small wooden boxes, appeared to be ‘inflamed’ by light and charged with energy, an important evolution in Oiticica’s idea of ‘totalidade-côr’ (total colour). They were designed to be handled, with moveable panels revealing new chromatic planes. With the introduction of glass Bólides into the series Oiticica began to incorporate loose pigment in the works and to include everyday materials such as glass vessels, plastic, earth, painted cloth, shells and foam, to expand the range of sensory experience offered through interaction with the artwork. The range of colours was extended to include pinks and blues, and ready-made objects also began to find their way into the work, including poetry and images, further encouraging the viewer’s emotional and intellectual participation.
Oiticica reached a crucial point in his integration of colour, structure, time and space with the Parangolé series: banners, capes and tents constructed from a variety of materials, including fabric, plastic, mats, screens and ropes. He began to develop these flexible colour structures as a result of his involvement with the people of Mangueira Hill, a Rio de Janeiro shanty town, and they encouraged his immersion into the world of traditional Brazilian samba. The Parangolés, designed to be worn or carried while dancing to the rhythm of samba, represent the culmination of Oiticica’s efforts to encourage the viewer’s interaction with the artwork and to liberate colour into three-dimensional space.
Text by Ann Gallagher
THE GUARDIAN LONDON
Hélio Oiticica’s work is as vivid and fluttering as an origami bird – but in his short lifetime, he proved himself to be a serious and influential artist, says Adrian Searle
An installation by Helio Oiticica at Tate Modern
Thursday 7 June 2007 05.24 EDT
Colour sings and the heart sings with it in Hélio Oiticica’s art. Many of the Brazilian artist’s painted shapes hang freely, floating on the taut wires that suspend them, and never seeming to dangle in anything so dull as gravity. These rhomboids, chevrons and compound plywood geometries invite us to turn around them, too: there is always a surprise on another side, along an edge or between their planes.Looking can be like dancing (Oiticica trained as a dancer), and his spacial reliefs, now almost 50 years old, make willing partners. In the 1960s, he went on to make coloured capes of printed, painted and dyed fabrics and plastic, – his Parangolés – to be worn and to dance in. Painted shapes and shaped paintings: do you wear his paintings or is the art the dance itself?
Oiticica first developed these forms through a series of card maquettes. They look like origami birds, which one can imagine flying out of a 1920s Suprematist or constructivist canvas to alight on a Paul Klee tree. They are not really birds, but in my mind I see two hands fluttering as they manipulate the card, score, fold and paint them. These sprightly, angular little shapes, with their sharp and flattened edges, also remind me of folded paper wraps passed furtively from hand to hand between drug dealer and client. But there is nothing hidden in these envelopes except an idea.
Oiticica died in 1980, aged 42, following a stroke. Luckily for us, he was prolific and however much of a hippy he appeared (the hair, the flares, the Afghan coat), or how wholeheartedly he embraced 1960s counter-cultural excess, he remained a serious and inventive artist. It comes as a jolt to realise that the works in the first room of The Body of Colour, Oiticica’s Tate Modern show, were completed when he was just 18.
This is a captivating exhibition, in which it is a pleasure to linger, even though it takes us only halfway through Oiticica’s career. The fact that Tate Modern is mounting this show, and has been buying Oiticica’s work for the collection, is testimony to the artist’s increasing posthumous reputation and influence, along with that of his friends and colleagues Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape. Theirs was a modernism freed from northern, protestant restraint, and an art that strove to go beyond the gallery and the closed world of the market.
These artists invited viewers to engage with their work in open and sometimes physical ways. As much as they embraced neo-constructivism and rationalism, order and rigour, they rejected hermeticism, or dry academic formalism, even though they were preoccupied by form and rhythm. They managed to take modernism somewhere its European forebears, and North-American contemporaries never imagined.
On Tate Modern’s fifth floor, several rooms within the collection have been devoted to Brazilian art of the 1960s, and to Oiticica’s sojourn in London in 1968, when, largely through the auspices of critic Guy Brett, the artist installed his Eden in the Whitechapel Art Gallery. At the time, no one knew what to make of Oiticica’s live macaws, nests for visitors to crawl into, indoor beach and jungles of foliage.
Nowadays, we call this kind of installation “relational aesthetics”. Art was always about relationships – even the most hard-assed modernism – but most of the time, audiences were too uptight to notice. If Oiticica’s art is pleasurable, light and open-ended, it is also deeply serious and rigorous. His paintings and reliefs are well-crafted, handmade things that invite respect. The surfaces are both lush and reserved, painted with a formal rightness that keeps the colour trembling and in its place, but as though it were straining for the freedom of the air. I never realised just how good a painter Oiticica was until now.
In one entirely yellow work, the colour goes from near-olive to acidic lemon, through heavy barium yellow to a dry-leaf khaki. You notice how necessary it is to have dulled colours among the bright, thoughtful gradations as well as straight-from-the tube explosions. How Oiticica’s planes catch the light matters, and so too how his colour refreshes, then saturates, then tires the eye. This is why we keep moving on and returning.
His white paintings, from the late 1950s, are the equals of Robert Ryman and Piero Manzoni. Twenty-two near-identical red paintings run the length of a wall, but how different each of them is. Oiticica’s small, square paintings are a world of variety and surface applications – paint is stippled, blotted, scuffed and criss-crossed. The brush snakes about, imitates the dancing tip of a rapier before it lunges, drags and churns. Oiticica was interested in transforming paint not into texture, but into time – a sense of extended duration.
Art that is merely colourful is so much visual noise. Colour, like sound, has to be organised or orchestrated in some way to be meaningful. The mechanisms of perception, and theories about colour might tell us a lot, but colour remains somehow unmanageable, volatile, associative, fugitive. When we talk about colour we talk about the way our brains are wired. From the first, Oiticica’s art tried to give structure to colour. He never arbitrarily assigned colour to form, the way a map maker assigns colours to countries, in order to distinguish them. Topology didn’t interest him.
In a way, Oiticica’s paintings prefigured developments in American art during the 60s and 70s – one inescapably thinks of Frank Stella, Robert Mangold, Robert Ryman, Ellsworth Kelly, and numerous later practitioners of what came to be called “fundamental painting”. Oiticica got there by a different route, taking on board the lessons of an earlier, utopian European modernism – Malevich. constructivism, concretism, Max Bill, Mondrian and their like – which informed Brazilian art and architecture in the 1950s and 60s in a way it never did in Europe or north America.
In the mid 60s, Oiticica began a series of bricollaged constructions called Bólides, or Fireballs. One of these tantalising hybrid objects, which were always meant to be handled and explored, is a glass flagon wrapped in pigment-soaked burlap and hessian scrim. The material is stiff with patches of dried paint, frozen in billows. The jar itself contains a yellowish liquid. It might be olive oil – the jar would look good set next to a bowl of salad – or linseed, in which case it belongs next to a painter’s palette. The whole work has the air of an improvised gift, on which more care than money has been spent. It is entitled Homage to Mondrian, as though this were a present to the painter.
The cumulative effect of this exhibition is breathtaking, though tinged with sadness. With certain artists who have died prematurely, our sense of loss is compounded by how much unfinished business they left behind, how much unrealised potential. With others – Yves Klein, Blinky Palermo, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Piero Manzoni – there is somehow a sense of completion within what they did. Everything one might imagine is already present. There is also a feeling that their projects are continued in the works of those who have come after them. This is also how I feel about Hélio Oiticica. These artists shared something more than an early death. They were Oiticica’s unknown peers. The work goes on.
· Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Colour is at Tate Modern, London (020-7887 8888) until September 23.
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Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica:
References and Notes
1. Although Clark and Oiticica did not focus on technology as a medium for art making, they ventured into it either conceptually (Clark’s Four Propositions of the late 1960s) or experimentally (Oiticica’s explorations with drugs and audiovisual media in the mid-1970s). Clark’s Four Propositions, two involving film and two involving magnets, remained unrealized. See Lygia Clark, Lygia Clark (Rio de Janeiro: Funarte, 1980) p. 32; and Lygia Clark, “Nostalgia of the Body,” October 69 (Summer 1994) pp. 107-108. Her film proposition “Man at the Center of Events” is very similar to Gary Hill’s video work Crux (1983-1987), in which five cameras were attached to a walking man and the recorded images shown simultaneously in a room in the shape of a cross. Clark’s second film proposition, “Invitation to a Voyage,” involved the relation between real and virtual events that were to take place on the screen and in front of it, in an early form of virtual reality. The project is analogous to Jeffrey Shaw’s The Legible City (1988-1989), in which a stationary bicycle is placed in front of a large screen that projects the roads the cyclist explores. Oiticica’s experimentation with Super-8 film and other audiovisual media in the mid-1970s, when he lived in New York, mixed art and life in an even more radical way, further enhancing his leisure strategies. See Ligia Canongia, Quase Cinema (Rio de Janeiro: Funarte, 1981) pp. 20-23.
On Lygia Clark, see also Guy Brett, “The Proposal of Lygia Clark,” in M. Catherine de Zegher, ed., Inside the Visible (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996); Guy Brett, “Lygia Clark: In Search of the Body,” Art in America (July 1994); Maria Alice Milliet, Lygia Clark: Obra-trajeto (São Paulo: Edusp, 1992); Guy Brett, “A Radical Leap,” in Dawn Ades, ed., Art in Latin America (New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1989). Lygia Clark’s works and archives can be seen at the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro, Centro de Documentação Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro. Av. Infante Dom Henrique 188, Parque do Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, CEP 20021-140. Tel: (021) 210-2188 extension 212; Fax: (021) 240-6351; contact: Anna Maria Innecco.
On Hélio Oiticica, see also Waly Salomão, Hélio Oiticica: Qual é o Parangolé? (Rio de Janeiro: Relume Dumará, 1996); Celso Favaretto, A Invenção de Hélio Oiticica (São Paulo: Edusp, 1992); Guy Brett, “Hélio Oiticica: Reverie and Revolt,” Art in America (January 1989); Lucilla Saccá, Hélio Oiticica: La Sperimentazione Della Libertà (Udine: Campanotto Editore, 1995); and Guy Brett, Catherine David, Chris Dercon, Luciano Figueiredo and Lygia Pape, eds., Hélio Oiticica (Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center and Rotterdam: Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, 1993). This comprehensive catalogue accompanied Oiticica’s international traveling retrospective from February 1992 to February 1994 (Rotterdam: Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art; Paris: Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume; Barcelona: Fundación Antoni Tapies; Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian; and Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center). It contains a large part of Hélio Oiticica’s writings as well as essays by Catherine David, Guy Brett and Waly Salomão. Hélio Oiticica’s works and archives can be seen at the Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rua Luis de Camões 68, Centro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, CEP 20060-040. Tel: (021) 232-2213, 232-1104, 232-4213; Fax: (021) 232-1401. Curator: Luciano Figueiredo.
2. Concrete Art movements were formed in Rio de Janeiro (Frente, formed in 1953) and in São Paulo (Ruptura, formed in 1952) as part of the artistic explosion created by rapid industrialization in Brazil during the post-war era. In the visual arts, the theoretical polarization between a “functionalist” tendency in São Paulo and a “vitalist” tendency in Rio de Janeiro resulted in the creation in 1959 of the Neoconcrete Art movement in Rio. Clark and Oiticica were the two most original artists to come out of the Neoconcrete movement. See the Neoconcrete manifesto in October 69 (Summer 1994) pp. 91-95 and also in Dawn Ades, Art in Latin America (New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1989) pp. 335-337.
3. For a discussion on the concreteness of thought and ritual in oral-based traditions, see Marilyn Houlberg, “Magique Marasa,” in Donald Cosentino, ed., Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou (Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum, 1995) pp. 273-274. Holberg’s observations about the physicality of ritual in many Afro-American religious ceremonies can illuminate this discussion on the concreteness of Oiticica’s and Clark’s notion of the body. The artistic traditions of Haitian Vodou have also been recently examined in the light of a postmodern aesthetic by M.A. Greenstein, “The Delirium of Faith,” World Art, No. 3 (1996) pp. 30-35.
4. In a discussion between Chilean Nelly Richard and Briton Guy Brett, Brett illustrated the traditional hierarchical gap between South American and Euro-American artists that Clark and Oiticica struggled to overcome: “There was an interesting comparison to be made between the exhibition of Hélio Oiticica, a Brazilian artist, which took place in London at the White Chapel Gallery in 1969, and an exhibition of Robert Morris, the American minimalist, which took place at roughly the same time at the Tate gallery. Both exhibitions had a participatory element for the public, and the differences between the two approaches were very fascinating . . . but it was very unlikely at the time that such comparisons would be made because of the immensely greater prestige enjoyed by American artists in London. To have suggested a comparison on equal terms between a famous American and an unknown Brazilian artist would have been somehow `improper,’ to borrow Nelly Richard’s use of the notion of propriety. For a Brazilian writer to have made claims for Oiticica in direct comparison with Morris would have seemed the height of naive nationalism, and even for a non-Brazilian it would have been difficult. The same naivet? on the part of the British or North Americans, went, well, unnoticed here.” See Witte de With Cahier No. 2 (June 1994) p. 90. For further discussion, see Nelly Richard, “The International Mise-en-scène of Latin American Art,” Witte de With Cahier, No. 2 (June 1994) p. 83; Nelly Richard, “Postmodern Disalignments and Realignments of the Center/Periphery,” Art Journal, No. 51 (Winter 1992); Mari Carmen Ram?1?rez, “Beyond `the Fantastic’: Framing Identity in U.S. Exhibitions of Latin American Art,” Art Journal No. 51 (Winter 1992); Simone Osthoff, “Orson Welles in Brazil and Carmen Miranda in Hollywood: Mixing Chiclets with Bananas,” Blimp 33 (Spring 1996).
5. Guy Brett, Kinetic Art (London: Studio Vista/Reinhold Art, 1968) p. 65. In another article entitled “In Search of the Body,” Brett further emphasized Clark’s and Oiticica’s roots in Brazilian culture, underscoring a special dimension of the body in Brazil: “Like most such generalizations about national character, perhaps, the `popular culture of the body’ exists both as a stereotype and a truth. It is what makes it possible to read a phrase `Brazilian elasticity of body and mind’ in both a football report and an article on Lygia Clark!” This special dimension of sensuality in Brazil poses theoretical challenges both within and without the culture. On one hand, within the Western metaphysical tradition, it reinforces the stereotype of sensuality in opposition to logos along with other related antinomies such as nature/culture and primitive/civilized. On the other hand, as a source of body knowledge inherited from oral traditions, it dissolves the body/mind duality, which was precisely what Clark and Oiticica strove to accomplish. For further discussion, see Simone Osthoff, “Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica: Translating Geometric Abstraction into a Language of the Body,” thesis, Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism (Chicago, IL: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1996).
6. See Milliet  p. 179; and also Maria Alice Milliet, “A Obra É O Trajeto,” MAC Revista, No. 1 (Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, April 1992) p. 37.
7. Frank Popper, Art–Action and Participation (New York: New York Univ. Press, 1975) p. 13.
8. Lygia Clark, as quoted by Lula Vanderlei and Luciano Figueiredo in Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark Salas Especiais, 22 Bienal Internacional de São Paulo (Rio de Janeiro: Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro and Museum of Modern Art of Bahia) n.p.
9. Max Bill, “The Mathematical Way of Thinking in the Visual Art of Our Time,” in Michele Emmer, ed., The Visual Mind: Art and Mathematics (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993) p. 8. Originally published in Werk 3 (1949).
10. Brett, “Lygia Clark: In Search of the Body”  pp. 61-62.
11. Jaron Lanier interviewed by Lynn Hershman Leeson, “Jaron Lanier Interview,” in Clicking In (Seattle, WA: Bay Press, 1996) p. 44.
12. Myron W. Krueger, “The Artistic Origins of Virtual Reality,” SIGGRAPH Visual Proceedings (New York: ACM, 1993) pp. 148-149.
13. The year 1968, a historic milestone in many Western countries, marks in Brazil the beginning of an era of state terrorism. The military government in power since 1964 issued the AI-5 (Fifth Institutional Act) signed by military President General Costa e Silva on 13 December 1968. The AI-5 closed Congress and suspended all political and constitutional rights, initiating a period of political oppression and persecution, youth revolt movements and counterculture. The period is the darkest one in the history of the Brazilian military dictatorship. The suspension of human rights opened the way to political persecution, torture and censorship, making it extremely difficult for artists to work. According to Zuenir Ventura, 10 years after the AI-5 was declared, approximately 500 films, 450 plays, 200 books, dozens of radio programs and more than 500 music lyrics, along with a dozen soap opera episodes, had been censored. See Ventura, 1968 O Ano que Não Terminou (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1988, p. 285). The AI-5 was responsible for an artistic and intellectual diaspora (Oiticica and Clark included) and for the fragmentation and isolation of artistic production in Brazil. Cultural production in the 1970s became mostly marginal, isolated from the public and hermetic, communicating only to a small elite. During the 1980s, the country slowly returned to democracy, and little of the irreverent experimentalism of the 1960s survived.
14. “Anthropophagia” literally means cannibalism. As employed by the Brazilian avant-garde of the 1920s (the “Anthropophagic Manifesto,” by Oswald de Andrade, was published in 1928), anthropophagy called for a cannibalization of European culture in Brazil. It highlighted Afro-Indigenous myths and traditions as superior to the Christian ones, for they were without the double standards of morality and repressed sexuality that artists saw in the patriarchical Catholic behavior. The Anthropophagic movement pointed to the “out of placeness” of European ideas in Brazil using inversion, humor and parody as subversive anti-colonialist strategies.
15. Lygia Clark as quoted by Brett, “In Search of the Body”  p. 62.
16. Hélio Oiticica, in Brett et al., Hélio Oiticica  p. 33.
17. Mangueira is the name of one of the oldest and most famous favelas (hillside slums) in Rio de Janeiro. The Mangueira Samba school is among the most popular in Rio. See Alma Guillermoprieto, Samba (New York: Vintage Departures, 1990). Guillermoprieto lived for 1 year in the favela of Mangueira. In Samba, she gives an account of this experience while examining the history and culture of black Brazilians and the social and spiritual energies that inform the rhythms of samba. For a complete history of Rio de Janeiro’s samba schools, see S?rgio Cabral, As Escolas de Samba do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro: Lumiar Editora, 1996).
18. Adopting an aesthetic of mixing and contamination, the Tropicalist movement of the late 1960s aggressively combined high and low and industrial and rural cultures, merging political nationalism with aesthetic internationalism and rock and roll with samba. It included all the arts–theater, cinema, poetry, visual arts and popular Brazilian music (especially the works of Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa and Maria Betania). It also inaugurated the “aesthetic of garbage,” explored by the second phase of Cinema Novo. It represented a return to cannibalist strategies in the arts, leaving behind the more austere “aesthetic of hunger,” with its simplistic Manichean opposition between pure popular nationalism and the alienation of international mass culture. An interesting parallel between Oiticica and the Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha, who became the spokesperson for the New Latin American Cinema, is made by Katherine David in “The Great Labyrinth,” in Brett et al., Hélio Oiticica  pp. 248-259.
19. Oiticica, “Tropic?lia” (4 March 1968), in Brett et al., Hélio Oiticica  p. 126.
20. Oiticica, in Brett et al., Hélio Oiticica  p. 124.
21. Oiticica’s critical views of Brazilian art and culture were condensed in his 1973 article “Brazil Diarrhea,” reprinted in Brett et al., Hélio Oiticica  pp. 17-20.
22. Oiticica, “Appearance of the Supra-Sensorial” (November/December 1967) in Brett et al., Hélio Oiticica  p. 130.
23. Oiticica, untitled text, in Kynaston L. McShine, ed., Information (New York: Museum of Modern Art, Summer 1970) p. 103. See also “Appearance of the Supra-Sensorial”  pp. 127-30.
24. Oiticica, untitled text, in McShine  p. 103.
25. Oiticica quoted by Brett in “Hélio Oiticica: Reverie and Revolt”  p. 120.
26. Mario Pedrosa, “Ambiental Art, Post-Modern Art, Hélio Oiticica,” introduction to Hélio Oiticica, Aspiro ao Grande Labirinto (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 1986) pp. 9-13. Translation mine.
27. Pedrosa  p. 9. Translation mine.
28. The “experimental exercise of liberty” is a phrase created by Mario Pedrosa and quoted often by Oiticica in his writings. See, for example, Hélio Oiticica, “Experimentar o Experimental,” Arte em Revista No. 5 (São Paulo: Centro de Estudos de Arte Contemporânea, ed. Kairós, 1981) p. 50. See also Oiticica, “The Appearance of the Supra-Sensorial”  p. 127.
29. Stelarc, letter to the author dated 27 October 1996.
30. Ivan Sutherland, “The Ultimate Display,” Proceedings of the IFIP Congress (1965) pp. 506-508. (IFIP stands for “International Federation for Information Processing.”) Ivan Sutherland, “A Head-Mounted Three-Dimensional Display,” Proceedings of the Fall Joint Computer Conference (1968) pp. 757-764.
31. Stelarc interviewed by Annie Griffin, “We Can Rebuild Him,” Guardian (Saturday 4 May 1996). See also Stelarc, Obsolete Body Suspensions (San Francisco: Contemporary Art Press), 1984; Stelarc, “Prosthetics, Robotics and Remote Existence: Postevolutionary Strategies,” Leonardo 24, No. 5, 591-595 (1991); on the World Wide Web, see http://www.merlin.com.au/stelarc.
32. See Margot Lovejoy, Postmodern Currents, Art and Artists in the Age of Electronic Media, 2nd Ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997) p. 235.
33. Jordan Crandall, “From Pages to Parangolés,” in Mute, Digitalartcritique, No. 3 (Autumn 1995).
34. Crandall .
35. Jordan Crandall, “Bioinformatic Alignments,” Blast 4: Bioinformatica (New York: The X-Art Foundation, 1994) n.p. Also published in Medien.Kunst.Passagen (Winter 1995) pp. IIa+b.
37. Roy Ascott quoted by Lovejoy  p. 212.
38. Illustrating Ascott’s argument (albeit unwillingly) was a recent article by Lee Rosenbaum addressing the plans for the expansion of MOMA in New York, which was explored by the lecture series “Imagining the Museum of Modern Art in the 21st Century.” The idea of a new exhibition design put forth by Terence Riley, chief curator of architecture and design, aims at substituting for a linear narrative one that is more flexible and multiple. Rosenbaum explains, “Gone will be the tidy delineation of a single, coherent saga of modern art’s progress from post-Impressionism to Cubism to abstraction.” He concludes the article by noting that “today’s diversity of artistic and curatorial sensibilities may have rendered the old articles of modernist faith obsolete.” MOMA’s director and curators are endorsing Bill Viola’s suggestive metaphor of the World Wide Web site with lateral and vertical choices across time and space as a desirable model for the museum space of the next century. This may give the new MOMA a cyber-inspired flavor, but with the exception of video, the museum continues to ignore electronic art per se and the artistic immaterial exchanges that use the Internet itself as a site for aesthetic explorations. Whether with linear or non-linear narratives, judging from these initial plans, the MOMA will continue to define art for the twenty-first century with a canonic object-based aesthetic. See Rosenbaum, Art in America (February 1997) p. 25.
39. From my notes on Ascott’s lecture “The Digital Museum,” presented at the Total Museum Conference on 26 October 1996 at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Rubloff Auditorium.
40. Roy Ascott, “Connectivity: Art and Interactive Telecommunications,” Leonardo 24, No. 2, 115-117 (1991).
41. See Oiticica, “Depoimento,” in Arte em Revista No. 7 (São Paulo: Centro de Estudos de Arte Contemporânea, 1973) p. 44. While alive, Oiticica always recontextualized earlier works within new bodies of work, acknowledging the passage of time and the live nature of his concepts. The relationship between Oititica’s legacy and museum institutions is also addressed by Brett in “The Experimental Exercise of Liberty,” in Brett et al., Hélio Oiticica  pp. 222-224 and in “Musem Parangolé,” TRANS Vol. 1, No. 1, 6-10 (1995); also on the World Wide Web at http://www.echonyc.com/~TRANS/parangole-e.html.
42. Yve-Alain Bois, “Lygia Clark,” October 69 pp. 85-88.
This article is part of the Leonardo special project A Radical Intervention: The Brazilian Contribution to the International Electronic Art Movement,” guest edited by Eduardo Kac.
For the print version of this article, see Leonardo Volume 30, No. 4 (1997), available from the MIT Press.
Updated 23 November 2004.