In “Maraca”, Gabriela Noujaim presents four new works that comment on the interconnection between ecological imbalances and exploitation of common natural resources by mankind. After the heavy rains that affected the city of Rio de Janeiro between March and April 2019, the artist felt inspired to approach the coordinated action of the elements water, fire, earth and air in her artistic processes.

This multidisciplinary research follows the scientific narratives in contemporary art that comment on the Anthropocene1 as a central subject to describe the geological age in which we find ourselves today; and in which humans have been recognized as causing agent of constant impacts on the environment, feeding a force field between the notions of destruction and conservation.

Thus, the artist creates an alert about the model of consumption and disposal, its relationship with climate change and the conflicting horizons that can be seen from the reflections of the non-preservation of natural goods.

The addressing of this issue is due, in large part, to the years of collaboration and experiences exchanged among Noujaim and the Indigenous community of Aldeia Maracanã. Such relationship mentioned in her works in an attempt to rescue and disseminate the ancestral knowledge of the native peoples, guardians of the preservation of forests and the existence of humankind as a collective.

The title of the exhibition also highlights the ritualistic culture of various indigenous ethnic groups who live threatened by the weakening laws and public policies that defend their rights, such as their land demarcation and protection systems. The Maraca is a musical instrument made of gourds, stuffed with seeds and may have a distinct name in each community. This tool has a healing function and can also be used as a purifying object by the hands of the shamans in sacred ceremonies as well in the dances and festivities.

The artist situates her practice at the intersection of art and activism and explores cinematic interests through sound assembly and the scenic experience of the installation as a path for communicating the layers of meaning contained in her works.

In the video installation “Water”, the images of melting ice2 in the coldest regions of the globe play a role as one of the most recognizable demonstrations of the impact of human activities in the Anthropocene era. In this work, fragmented pieces of mirror on the floor are the representation and reflection of this ruin. In the juxtaposition imagery of the video, the waves of São Conrado (cost of Rio), filmed by Noujan and mixed with images carefully selected from the Internet, make it sound like conceptual markers of the planet's temperature and   rising of ocean and sea water levels.

In the video “Terra”, the artist's hands are stamped by the geometry of indigenous design, simulating the ophidian movement until her image comes into symbiosis with the forest; in a metaphor that affirms the resilience of the various indigenous peoples in the defense and conscious use of land.

While in “Ar”, the practice of historical erasure and the contempt of governments for public policies regarding science, culture and heritage are denounced; In this work the artist mentions the National Museum, which was destroyed by fire in September 2018.

In the performance “Fire”, the game of managing time and pain suggests love as a method to alert society about the excesses authorized by the political and economic model experienced today. In this context the artist asks: Whom or what would you stand in the fire for?

The exhibition revives subjects previously addressed in the artist's career. Noujaim has been developing her work motivated by the legacy of feminist3 art practices as she deals with the female body, territories disputed by power structures, the reproductibility of images and the review of historical narratives in Art History.

Interested in the potential of art to help us imagine other choices and possibilities, in "Maraca" the notions of permanence and risk revealed by Gabriela Noujaim present a document of the current world reality and the possible consequences for years to come.

 

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1 FERRÃO, J. “O Antropoceno como narrativa: uma lente útil para entender o presente e imaginar o futuro?”. Biblos, [S.l.], n. 3, p. 205-221, mar. 2018. ISSN 2183-7139. Disponível em: <https://impactum-journals.uc.pt/biblos/article/view/5438>. Acesso em: 31 jul. 2019.

 

2 REISS, J. “Terra incognita: exhibiting ice in the Anthropocene”. In: Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene. Wilmington, DE: Vernon Press, 2019. P. 77-86.

3 de ZEGHER, C. Introduction. In: ARMSTRONG, C.; de Zegher, C. (Org.). Women Artists at the Millennium. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006. P. XV.

Recent data shows that since 1980's the Arctic ice coverage has shrunk by 50%²  and is now in its all-time lowest. Defrosting images in the coldest regions of the globe are the most recognizable representation of the impact of human activities at the Anthropocene era. In this work, fragmented pieces of mirror on the floor are the representation and reflection of this ruin that has been caused by mankind. In the juxtaposition imagery of the video, the waves of the São Conrado (cost of Rio), filmed by Noujaim and mixed with images carefully selected from the Internet, make it sound like conceptual markers of the planet's temperature and rising of ocean and sea water levels. 
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 ² S. Borenstein, “Arctic Ice Shrinks to All-Time Low; Half 1980 Size,” Phys.org, September 19, 2012, https://phys.org/news/2012-09-arctic-ice-all-time-size.html.

Aquário | 2019 
Video installation
Video-editor: Gabriela Noujaim
Durantion: 8’
Unic work

 

The land is where the walks and ceremonies take place; where the exchanges occur as well the maintenance of the collectivity sense. According to the 2010 IBGE1  Census, the indigenous population in Brazil adds up to 896,900 indigenous people. It is known that around 300 thousand are distributed in urban areas like the multiethnic Aldeia Maracanã, in Tijuca neighborhood (city of Rio).  José Urutau Guajajara is one of its leaders, who sings and animates this ritual using the movement of the maraca. In the video, Gabriela Noujaim's engraved hands simulate the ophidian movement until her image comes into symbiosis with the forest, presenting a metaphor that affirms the resilience of various indigenous peoples in the defense and conscious use of land.  

 
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¹Disponível em: http://www.funai.gov.br/index.php/nossas-acoes/politica-indigenista?start=4# 

Maraca | 2019 
Video
Video-editor: Antônio Pimenta
Duration: 2’10” 
Audio: singer José Urutau
Edition: 1/2 + 1 PA

 

The observation of the wind moves a detailed study on the changing of the seasons, the planting and harvesting periods as well as the measuring of tides. Native peoples understand the wind as a clock; they are guided by it. On September 2, 2018, a devastating fire consumed much of the National Museum's collection - a compilation that featured 40,000 pieces from many indigenous peoples of Brazil. In another collaboration with Zé Urutau, in this video, the artist presents a statement on historical erasures and the disdain of governments regarding public policies regarding science, culture and heritage. From an anecdote heard by the artist, it is questioned here: ”if the firefighters had consulted indigenous leaders about the direction of the winds before directing the water jets, would the fire had lasted less time devouring the Quinta da Boa Vista mansion”?

Cortina de Fumaça | 2019 
Video
Video-editor: Antônio Pimenta
Duration: 2’10” 
Audio: singer José Urutau
Edition: 1/2 + 1 PA

 

 

Technology carefully used by different indigenous communities with a wide variety of purposes, fire has been utilized to prepare land for planting, to attract animals for hunting and to communicate with good spirits. Here, in a free interpretation of the manipulation of burnings, the artist tries to control the flame by establishing a game of trust between power and desire. In the performance, the childish play of handling time and pain suggests love, inscribed in the artist's own hand, as a method to alert society about the excesses authorized by the political and economic model we are experiencing today. Whom or what would you stand in the fire for?   

O Fogo | 2019 
Video
Video-editor: Gabriela Noujaim
Duration: 2’10”
Edition: 1/2 + 1 PA

 

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