Helio Oiticica - Quasi Cinema
03 May - 23 June 2002
Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) was an essential protagonist in the development of 'installation art' and his career charts a lifetime of artistic experimentation. Although his early career was rooted in the geometric abstraction of the Brazilian Neo-Concretists, his work quickly exploded from the two-dimensional picture plane into real life. From the late 1950s, he produced art to feel and art to wear and, from the 1960s, art to inhabit. This was the culmination of his efforts to infuse art with real life, drawing inspiration from everyday materials and real experiences.
This exhibition will present three major installations in the Whitechapel's Upper Gallery that place Oiticica within the context of filmmaking. Quasi-Cinema is a term that Oiticica and Brazilian filmmaker, Neville d'Almeida, coined for their experiments in film and slide projections, carried out in New York in the 1970s. These room sized installations - CC1 Trashiscapes, CC3 Maileryn and CC5 Hendrix-War - incorporate mattresses, emery boards, sand dunes, balloons and hammocks to create alternative auditoriums or viewing environments.
Each installation has its own soundtrack: discordant music after Stockhausen, 'archetypal' Brazilian music and songs by Jimi Hendrix, multiple images of cultural icons such as Luis Buñuel, Marilyn Monroe and Hendrix are simultaneously projected onto the walls and ceilings. Some of the images are retraced in cocaine which Oiticica used as a reference to Inca spirituality and medicinal practice - a symbol of resistance against American imperialism and a comment on both the cosmetics industry and notions of plagiarism in art.
These works seek to challenge the traditionally passive relationship between the cinematic image and the spectator and present a chaotic and fractured world where pop culture, social issues, film and music are merged into a complex installation experience.
Hélio Oiticica: Quasi-Cinema was curated by Carlos Basualdo and co-organised and presented by the Wexner Center for the Arts, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York and the Kunstverein, Cologne with research and consultation by Projeto Hélio Oiticica (Cesar Oiticica Filho).
The exhibition was presented at the Wexner Center for the Arts with major support from BrasilConnects. Additional support was provided by the Wexner Center Foundation. Hélio Oiticia: Quasi-Cinema is part of the programme of the Brasil 500 Festival, co-ordinated by the Brazilian Embassy and FAAP, celebrates Brazilian art and culture in the UK.