VULTURE IN A SUIT IN CACHOEIRA . BERNARDO MOSQUEIRA

(to my love)

(and to the love of Ivan and Juliana)

(axé)

 

In 1500, when the Brazilian coast encountered European navigators for the first time, more than 25% of the population of Lisbon was black of African origin. In 1888, when the Lei Áurea (Golden Law) was signed, the Brazil already had a black majority. Between the almost four centuries that separate these two dates enslaved African men and women were brought to Brazil from various nations that created their own ways to physically survive and culturally resist. The social legacy of slavery is still huge, the fight and the resistance is still necessary, but nothing is so lively, enchanting and relevant as their cultural heritage.

 

"When the sky falls" is the first result of research that deals with the strength of black people in Brazil. The investigative processes of Ivan are extremely experimental and, this time, began within the archive of the CCSP. We visited the archive of the "Missões de Pesquisas Folclóricas” (Folklore Research Missions) - a distinguished project created by Mario de Andrade when he was Secretary of Culture of São Paulo in the 1930s, and wanted to register demonstrations of Brazilian popular culture. Black culture was, at the time, "folkloric". We discovered that the project was cancelled with the arrival of the Vargas era and a large part of the initial project was not completed. These missions, therefore, went through Pernambuco but did not arrive in Bahia. More interested in what was not registered, we found our destination.

 

Our work was related to the entire genealogy of travelling artists interested in Man. Once we had chosen Bahia we decided to go to Cachoeira: an important city for the history of black people in Brazil. Previously in Salvador we had unrestricted access to the entire archive of the Pierre Verger Foundation and there we also found the certificate of his passage through that municipality. However, we soon understood that our interest was not just restricted to registering (capturing and showing) the image of the exotic. Our interests are social criticism and narratives - more specifically we are delighted by the relationship between resistance and oral history.

 

The works of Ivan expand, fulfill and light up the intersection between conceptual rigor, social criticism and the creation (or translation) of poetic narratives. As we shall see there is nothing in this exhibition (assembly, works, materials, catalogue, text) that does not have a reason for being.

 


  

 

In this exhibition, we use African ancestral knowledge (transmitted through generations or in the ‘Jogo de Búzios’[1]) in the same way that we use Western academic knowledge. We realize, that through this work we don’t want to write the history of the vanquished, as Foucault did. The history of black people in Brazil has no winners or losers, it is rather a story of survivors in glory. "We are chosen by luck. We are rich drums of faith. (...) We are love and its allies. We are the children of the enchanted", we heard in Bahia. "When the sky falls" is where we begin to tell the story of some nations that were much more violently explored than we think, but which are much more than can be imagined. And our research took place in Bahia, African territory.

 

Two days ago we were in the Recôncavo Baiano and felt some difficulty in getting the meetings we needed for the interviews we came to do. We walked with the sun on our side, on the path between the hostel in São Félix and the Igreja do Rosário dos Brancos[2], in Cachoeira. Before reaching the bridge that crosses the Paraguaçu River and links the two counties (inaugurated by Dom Pedro II in 1885), we were impressed by a vulture. His size, his posture, the color and brightness of his feathers caught our attention. But the way he kept his body motionless as he turned his head and neck to follow our walk with his eyes amazed us.

 

We finally obtained our first interview. Valmir started by telling us that Cachoeira was one of the most important cities of Brazil in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The region, that had been inhabited by tapuias, tupi and tupinambás, had its first European settlement founded by Caramuru. The town of Nossa Senhora do Rosário do Porto in Cachoeira do Paraguaçu became very rich through the intensive use of slave labor and was then absorbed by the city of Cachoeira, of great importance in the abolitionist movement and independence. Nowadays the city is an important baroque architectural treasure. Valmir also told us that the "heroine Ana Neri" and the “sorcerer Zé de Brechó" were born there and that once a year, during one week, Cachoeira becomes the capital of Bahia.

 

Valmir is proud that he was chosen to be the only man to live alongside the women forming the Irmandade da Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte (Sisterhood of Our Lady of Good Death)[3]. He told us that Cachoeira received a very large number of Africans who were brought to Brazil as slaves and sometimes the "maids" earned or could, after some time, buy their freedom. These women, mostly African, formed the Irmandade da Boa Morte (Sisterhood of the Good Death). In the early nineteenth century, various types of organizations of slaves and former slaves were formed in Bahia - especially after the massacre in response to the Revolta dos Malês (Malê Revolt), in 1835. The ladies of the Sisterhood, free and together, became street vendors of delicacies, acarajés, fruits or even small craft objects and fabrics. With the profits of trade they bought the emancipation of other black women. Through this they obtained significant local power. Publicly the Sisterhood was (and is) a Catholic organization, but secretly they used to (and still do) perform Candomblé rituals.

 

It is important to say that Cachoeira is a historic city for Candomblé, and our second interview was essential for us to learn more about this.

 

The interviewee: Marcelino Gomes, cultural agent, scholar and pai-de-santo (priest of the candomblé religion). Strangely, he has the same first and last name as my father. Marcelino told us, both in a loving and energetic way, that the first ‘terreiro’ (Candomblé holy place) in the Americas (known as Roça do Ventura) was created in Cachoeira. The first Axés that arrived in Brazil came from Africa directly to that city. In Cachoeira there are ‘terreiros’ with different religions from different countries and with very different positions and beliefs about the world, culture, and religion itself. Marcelino told us that in Africa an organized pantheon of gods or orishas didn’t exist. Each nation had its religion for its own orisha or family of orishas. It was in Brazil (and particularly in Cachoeira) that some nations began to understand how important it was to absorb the ancestral knowledge of others, as a form of resistance and for the survival of the people and their traditions. Marcelino talked to us about some fundamental questions for African thought and the traditional culture of the ‘terreiro’ and then began to tell us some stories about what had ocurred in Cachoeira.

 

I asked about this "Zé de Brechó " and he said that, in fact, he was called José de Belchior and that he was a great sorcerer of the city. Brechó or Belchior, was one of the founders of Roça do Ventura and it is said that once, when Candomble was prohibited in Brazil, the police tried to invade his ‘terreiro’ on horseback. After the crash of the falling door a huge swarm of wasps attacked the animals and ended up killing one of the soldiers. The sorcerer sent a message to the police station saying that when they wanted to invade the ‘terreiro’ they should warn him first so that he could control his wasps. He also told us that the mother of José Belchior was also one of the founders of the Sisterhood of the Good Death, and that he and another sorcerer known as José de Salacó probably descended from African royalty.  He told us that José Belchior sometimes transformed himself into an animal to get leaves and herbs in the forest or even to bring Axés from Africa. I asked which animal it was. He answered accurately and resoundingly: a vulture.

 

 

 

We could not have "noticed" the vulture. Sometimes it seems that everything is pointed out all of the time. But there is some method in our process.

 

Less than a year ago I accompanied Ivan Grilo on an expedition to Maranhão to investigate the relationship between the fog in which the king Dom Sebastião of Portugal disappeared, in 1578, and the culture of the 400 fishermen who inhabit Ilha dos Lençóis in the coast of northeastern Brazil. Our endeavor resulted in the exhibition "Sentimo-nos Cegos” (We Feel Blind) and in the text “Diário de Bordo do São José III (MCPUL - MA – Z6) do dia 19 de setembro de 2013” (Captains log of São José III (MCPUL – MA – Z6) 19th of September, 2013). During the research process, development and construction of that exhibition a special kind of perception and interpretation of reality emerged for us with which we felt very safe and comfortable and which was very close to a magical, poetic and conceptual positioning in relation to the facts and to creation. A year later this new project happened for which we would travel through the Recôncavo Baiano. We begin our journey arriving at Salvador airport.

At that time both of us were bearing the burden of an absurdly distressing and anxious pace of work and on a day that seemed ordinary we took an ordinary cab to arrive at a hotel, that would probably also be ordinary, to subsequently start working. After 30 km of obsessively checking emails, messages and other emergencies on our iPhones when we were already in front of the reception desk I remembered that I had left my wallet “safely" in the magazine pocket in front of my seat on the plane. If initially this also seemed an ordinary lack of attention, we soon understood that we were not aware of the kind of perception that we developed during our experience in Maranhão. I was sure that in a certain way our work could not happen. To confirm this message a fault on the plane did not allow it to take off for the next flight and, because of that, when we got back to the airport my wallet was still there in the pocket of seat 13D.

After we understood what had happened we went back to the cab to start our work from the beginning again! As soon as we closed the door we started a conversation with the driver, asking if he knew the city of Cachoeira. He had never gone there – it would not be so easy - but as soon as we revealed our intentions in the city he ended up telling us that he had been raised in a family that followed the traditions of the ‘terreiro’, but that, at that moment, he only believed in one god greater than all things. He was an Evangelical. While we crossed the huge bamboo grove on the edge of the airport he told us that as a child he used to go to a natural paradise that was traditionally used as a sacred space for ritual offerings.

 

Of course we asked the name of the place (at that stage, we could still change our itinerary a bit and perhaps this could be a good option), but he informed us that he could not tell us the location because we shouldn’t go there alone: as well as being a dangerous place, it was close to an area with drug trafficking, he said we should return early from the site because on the way there is a big stone on which one can see "photographs made by mallets from the blacks who were there since the beginning of the time", and that the stone moves every day at 16:30, closing the road and causing people to get lost. We began our work with pleasure: when you head towards the unknown it’s necessary to be interested, to pay attention, to take care, have humility, courage and respect. And the mysterious is not far from our flesh. While researching the history of black people in Brazil, from the city of Cachoeira, it is important to understand that our magical, conceptual and poetic "way of seeing" has to accept that the high rate of violent deaths in young urban black population is as much the object of our interest as the cultural heritage of the ‘terreiros’.

In Salvador we visited the impressive Pierre Verger Foundation and had access to all the French photographers publications as well as his entire digitalized photographic collection which was stored in a refrigerated room. Even with all our prior reading of Verger, with all our admiration and with all our interest nothing could have been more somniferous. Our intuition showed us that this would not be our way to work; maybe this was not the place where we should be. The black culture studied and lived by Verger vibrates, through his photos, in a different way to the stories told by Marcelino.

There in the cold room we found photographs that proved that Verger passed through Cachoeira but the greater importance of our visit was, inevitably, to compare our work to the work of another traveler artist in Recôncavo. We understood there that the exhibits and works of Ivan are fruits of the encounter of academic research with the power of oral history and are intended to be instrumental guides for another oral account - created from the exhibition. And, in order for the work to be able to materialize with a greater amount of information, it is necessary that each element and procedure is conceptually articulated with the greatest precision possible.

In the exhibition "When the sky falls", people who entered the exhibition building of the CCSP were invited to visit the exhibition after climbing up and down a ramp that crosses the central span of the building. This referred to an important night of our trip to Cachoeira. When we visited the high Rosarinho neighborhood, that emerged around the Igreja do Rosário dos Pretos[4] and was built by the black sorcerer José de Belchior, an extensive and intense fog descended on the city. The population, disconcerted, went out onto the streets without understanding what was happening; the entire city talked exclusively about the fog and no one could see further than 20 meters. As is well known, Ivan has researched the idea of fog for a few years and the name of our research was already "When the sky falls". The night we arrived at Recôncavo a mist fell over the city. From top of the hill we descended ever deeper into the fog. This is why we proposed that people arrived at the exhibition in the same way as we entered the fog.

Arriving at the exhibition from above, it was possible to percieve that there was an outer wall with two artworks and all the other works were inside the space. On the outside, before the entrance, was what we took to Cachoeira. On the outside, after the exit, was what we brought from Cachoeira. On the same wall, but inside near to the entrance, was a more academic text which was parallel to what we took to Cachoeira. On this same wall, still inside, was a narrative text that was parallel to what we brought from Cachoeira, close to the exit.

The work that represented what we took to Recôncavo is called "Voyage au Brésil," and is composed of elements that were part of our research before the trip, such as the reproduction of an engraving by Debret which shows eight men carrying a pack saddle; a photograph by Luis Saia made during the Folklore Mission in Pernambuco which shows eight men carrying a piano; a book by Pierre Verger with the title changed to “Negros Gostosos” (Handsome Blacks) and a white satin ribbon marking a page; the image of a ship without its sails from the nineteenth century; a photograph from the collection of CCSP portraying a black woman with the caption "she speaks Yoruba fluently"; and a prayer whose authorship is attributed to Pope Pius IX full of demonstrations of racism and inconsistencies. This marked our critical position in a genealogy of traveling artists in Brazil. The work that represented what we brought from Cachoeira on the other hand is called "Sobre quando cai o céu” (About when the sky falls) and consists of a gold metal frame which bears the image of a landscape under the fog, a pair of figures, a map and a glass plate. This work pointed to a lack of images, about which it might be interesting to reflect.

During our experience in the city the abscence of images was pointed out to us on several occasions: at the igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Brancos, on the side altar of St. Joseph there were no saints, only the painted desert in the background; on the Portuguese tiles showing the mystic Marian Catholic symbols, a strange form that resembles a picture frame carried no image; on the sacristy, a pair of mirrors from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries whose metal had rusted and no longer reflected; amongst the dreadlocked hair of Xuim, a scapular without images; between the ex-votos of the Igreja Matriz with its erased sketches. When we found the beggar-poet-prophet in the fog on 23rd Street and Xuim told us: "Tonight Cachoeira will disappear from the map". And that is what we see: a reproduction of a map from the seventeenth century, with a golden pushpin marking the city of Cachoeira, with etched pieces of glass overlapping on this point, as if a fog had made our city disappear from the map. By it’s side the image of the tiles and the empty altar. The glass on the wall guarded the ‘void of images’ but also, symbolically, the great sense of power and possible narratives coming from a work.

As soon as you enter the exhibition you can see, alone on a surface of the room, a monitor attached to the wall above the line of vision which shows a video of a white flag raised behind a roof in front of a sky with clouds. Next to the video is the sound of Marcelino singing a Mahin song (from the ancient kingdom of Dahomey, now Benin), in which a soldier says goodbye to his family, paying homage to his homeland before leaving for war. In ancient times the people of Angola, another African nation, were nomadic and whenever they needed to decide on their next destination they raised a 'white flag stuck on a strong stick" and waited for the “Nkisi Tempo” (equivalent to the Orisha Iroko) to blow the wind. Wherever it pointed would be the new and better direction that the people should follow. In this video by Ivan the flag pointed to inside the exhibition - and this video called “Quando é Tempo #1 - despedida” (When it’s Time # 1 - farewell) is part of a two-channel video installation of which the last monitor we see before leaving the exhibition is also part. In Brazil a raised white flag became a sign that a ‘terreiro’ is present on this land, that "o povo de santo (the holy people)" are present on this land.

On the next wall we find the work “Estudo sobre não esquecimento” (Study about not forgetting), which refers to the story that in times of the slave trade in Benin enslaved Africans were forced to make seven rounds around the baobab before being shipped to Brazil. After this ritual they would forget their past, lose their identities and go to Brazil as products, human objects, without culture and without history. In this work we see the vertical image of a baobab tree, and the most popular name of this plant is inscribed on the acrylic that covers it as well as its scientific name, the expression "tree of forgetfulness" and the seven rounds around the tree. Flanking this centerpiece two shelves display images taken from Vergers books, images where the Orisha Xangô (Shango) is manifested in a person in Bahia and Benin. The similarity between the two images shows that the ‘slave-thing’ does not exist and that all of the African heritage (cultural, genetic, spiritual) that we have in Brazil came within bodies that would be exploited. It’s important to say that Shango, the great king, is the Orisha of ancestry. One of the initial foundations of this exhibition was to realize the same research in Brazil and Benin. We didn’t have time to realize both so we had to restrain ourselves to this side of the Atlantic; but we are sure that we can not speak about the History of Brazil without speaking about African History.

Our desire to understand this bridge over the South Atlantic created by real ebbs and flows and rituals took us to our next work called "Como se o mar fosse mentira” (As if the sea was a lie), which features two transparent acrylic plates on which the shorelines of Africa and Latin America were engraved, overlapping and approximate until the first point of one map touches each other. Beside it two shelves exhibit two bottles: the first full of sea water; the second empty. The title of the work, taken from a collection of texts organized by Rita Chaves, Carmen Secco and Tania Macedo, points to the massive and forced landing of the people of Africa in the continent of the Americas, as if the sea was a lie. From 1500 to 1888 between seven and eight million Africans arrived alive in Brazil. Around two and a half million died on the way.

As a sign of power and a strategy of domination the lord or slave trader imposed a Christian name on the slave in order to withdraw the identity from the African men. When for some reason he didn’t have or did not know his new name at the time of registration, it was common to write "God knows your name" in the documents. In the work "Seu nome [ ou estudo para batismo]" (Your name [or study for baptism]), four photographs by Alberto Henschel, recording the faces of four black-nineteenth century men were framed and hung on the wall. Thin shelves below serve as a support for transparent glass plates with a Christian name engraved in white in the center, placed over each of the photos. Christopher, Peter, Joachim and God knows your name. The last glass is broken between "God knows" and "your name".

The entire exhibition "When the sky falls" points to a victory of black people in Brazil. The “samba-enredo” (samba song) and the parade by Salgueiro[5], in 2014, were also important references for us. Its theme was "How macumba can teach the world to be environmentally sustainable". The opening group of the school represented the orishas dancing with nature. The first alegoric car, the “abre-alas”, was a huge slave ship flanked by sculptures of chained blacks slaves and had almost 50 black men and women dressed as slaves and laughing conciously about what they were doing, aware of the historic abuse of their people. This was an example that when we speak of the history of black people in Brazil we do not speak of the story of the winners or the losers, nor of the vanquished. Black people here are understood as glorious survivors on the way to a fair victory. It is necessary to speak about the history of exploration and point to the victory contained in every second of the suffering of these people.

 

In the work "História do Brasil: Mátria [petit hommage A.B.G.]" (History of Brazil: Motherland [petit hommage A.B.G.]) , Ivan honors a female artist who also researched Brazilian society and identity and who is part of another people who arrived in Brazil through different process, but also in a diaspora. Ivan uses the image of the work "História do Brasil: Little boys and girls” (History of Brazil: Little boys and girls) by Anna Bella Geiger, placing images of black women in the place of young indigenous children to criticize, as did Anna Bella, common thought and mainstream education about the genealogy of the Brazilian people. In works such as "History of Brazil: Little Boys and Girls" and "Native Brazil / Alien Brazil", Anna Bella questioned the notion of a single root for the whole Brazilian population which is based mainly on the so-called "discourse of miscegenation". According to this idea all Brazilians have white, black and Indian ancestry in different proportions which would theoretically make us all "equal mestizos". But no. Such claims delayed the civil rights struggles of the Amerindian people and the black population in Brazil for a century and gave basis to phrases such as "there is no racial prejudice here," "no one here is white," "skin colour does not matter, we are all a big mixture, " etc. that became common place. It is not hard to understand that people who have black skin in Brazil are not treated the same by society (in the labor market, by the police, justice system, in personal relationships, etc.) as someone who has white skin. Regardless of miscegenation. It may sound ridiculous to have to assert the existence of racism in Brazil but it is obviously still more than necessary.

 

Anna Bella has been a central figure in Rio de Janeiro for five decades, serving as a  reference, working as a teacher and offering her house for meetings of artists and intellectuals from various fields. This work of Ivan, by appropriating the image of a work of Geiger, also evokes the matriarchal social organization developed by many African nations in Brazil.

In 2013 Ivan Grilo participated in the “Projeto Cofre” at the Casa França-Brasil, occupying the space of the safe that gives its name to the project, with a work developed from his research in Maranhão. The work, entitled "Estudo para medir forças" (Study to measure forces), is a photograph that shows a black bull leaving the darkness and heading towards the viewer, it was printed on thin paper and only remained in constant contact with the back wall of the safe due to strong pressure from a powerful fan; without frames, without nails, without any tape or other type of fixation. In "When the sky falls" the work "Segundo estudo para medir forças” (Second study to measure forces), developed from the research in Bahia, is part of the same series and consists of a fan blowing on two small shelves near the floor. On the first one we see some white Portuguese pavement stones weighing down a pile of brown wooden shavings made of pau-ferro[6], preventing their flight. In the second, a sheet of pau-ferro that, with help of the fan, puts pressure on a pile of white Portuguese pavement stones. They are two moments and the direction of the vector between them points, once again, to this alleged victory in the time of justice, in History.

 

Next to it, and high up, is the work "O coração tem a medida de um punho cerrado" (The heart has the measure of a clenched fist). Attached at the actual height of Ivans raised wrist the work makes references to a clenched fist, an iconic image of resistance which was used by workers movements from the beginning of the twentieth century and, later, as the Black Panther salute in the United States. In this work Ivan appropriates a wooden hand with an articulated wrist and fingers much used by student artists in exercises to represent the human body. As this exhibition is built on social criticism, but also with hope, it was important for Ivan that the wrist was present at the exhibition, raised and clenched but with the possibility of opening one day.

The work "Os heróis da liberdade #1: José de Belchior" (The Heroes of Freedom # 1: José de Belchior) is a tribute to José de Belchior. While pointing to important facts from his biography, this work alludes to his transformation from a man into a vulture. The piece consists of three sections of backlights: the first group consists of images from the Bar das Sete Portas (The Seven Doors Bar), the former residence of José Belchior, of a black man wearing white clothes and also the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos[7], which was founded by Belchior; the second section summarizes the image of a stone; and the third group consists of the image of the map of Africa, the vulture from Cachoeira and the Roça do Ventura (the first ‘terreiro’ of Candomblé in Brazil, also founded by José Belchior). Every day starts with the first group lit and the third turned off. At 16:30, the time when the stone from the cab drivers story moves, the first group turns off and the third lights up. The vulture is lit for eight hours, the approximate time of one night, and the man is illuminated for 16 hours. The stone, which symbolizes the ‘axé’, Zé de Belchiors essential magic power, stays on all the time. During the setting-up of the exhibition the head of the vulture, the center stone and the head of the black man were aligned. The work recognizes the importance of higlighting black heroes or exemplary characters of blackness in Brazil which are not only translations of European heroes, they are heroes for reasons of European tradition. And for this reason new research, new narratives and publishing strategies are necessary.

Another story told by Marcelino about José de Belchior turned into a work. His phrase "You shouldn’t touch what you can’t control" appears written on a bronze plaque attached to the wall beside the shelf where there is a small pot containing a powder. The substance is ‘pemba de aranha’ (spider ‘pemba’). Pemba is a type of ritual powder (which can be used to make a ritual chalk) made from any material elements of nature such as leaves, animals, etc. On one night Ivan and I, returning to Cachoeira from São Felix, realized there were an absurd amount of spiders on the bridge. Perhaps more than a hundred spiders per square meter. Having just heard Marcelino talk about pembas we decided to research the use of a ‘spider pemba’ and we found out that it was used for the binding of love. Our exhibition opened just one month before the marriage of Ivan and Juliana. Of course we didn’t touch the pemba. Firstly, because the marriage of Ivan and Juliana is already blessed by all the orishas and will be full in joy, pleasure, companionship, growth, tranquility, vitality, understanding and love. Secondly, because we know you shouldn’t touch what you can’t control. But we made it available so that each person could make their own decision. On the work we wrote: "Warning: may contain traces of witchcraft."

Between the two texts present in the exhibition space, three signs saying "We are drums of rich faith", "We are love and its allies" and "We are the children of the enchanted" were centered and arranged one above the other as if they could illuminate the whole exhibition from there. These three verses are the beautiful introduction of the song "Raiz de todo bem (Roots of all good)" interpreted by a popular Bahian singer named Saulo.

The last piece that we see before leaving the exhibition room is the second part of the video installation "Quando é Tempo (When it’s Time)". Also fixed alone on a wall and above the line of vision, was the work "Quando é Tempo# 2 - despedida" (When it’s Time # 2 – farewell). This time the flag points to the exit, to outside the exhibition. If the visitor did not notice this in the first video, he could see it at the second one. Not having the power of “Nkisi Tempo” to point the direction of the wind on the flag what we see, in fact, is the wind blowing towards the exit during the first half of the video: and in the second half, the video and the wind return to the beginning.

 The whole "When the sky falls" exhibition was elaborated from traditional academic research, field research travels, immersion, interviews and consultations with Orunmilá and the other orishas in the Jogo de Búzios. The academic research resonates with a lot of references and presents a charming lack of an infinity of them. The field research, as was the case during our trip to Maranhão, takes a few days to start working and delightfully never pans out as planned. The Jogo de Búzios generally speak louder to me than Ivan. Maybe I need to listen to them more, but they were undeniably crucial for many of our findings and elaborations.

The aim of this exhibition is not to create knowledge about the African tradition, but rather to create and allow knowledge from the African tradition to be created, cultivating it and perceiving it in us at every moment as an alternative to Western thought, which carries Eurocentrism in its structure. In Brazil the strength of tradition and African knowledge was, for a long time, only clandestinely manifesting itself in forms of expressions of culture such as in the ‘rodas de samba’[8], the jongo, the practice of capoeira and the cult of Candomblé. Due to years of slavery, the years of hiding and the force of decades of miscegenation discourse, these were the spaces in which it was possible to assert black identity in Brazil. The moments where the visual arts positioned themselves assertively in relation to black people were few and far between. There are few black artists or people researching issues of people of African tradition in Brazil. And the contemporary exchange of experiences and references between Brazil and African countries and nations is still very little. The exhibition "When the sky falls" is born of the desire to find Africa in Brazil, to find a way of thinking which is different to white European tradition and a recognition of the urgency to build a new world from the one that in the past was called the New World.

 

 



[1] Cowrie-shell divination

[2] Our Lady of the Rosary of the White Church

 

[4] Church of the Rosary of the Blacks

[5] Popular Samba School from Rio de Janeiro.

[6] Brazilian Ironwood

[7] Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks Church

[8] Musical manifestation, popular in Rio de Janeiro, in which musicians play instruments and sing sitting around a table.