Brazilian Histories


MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, on the occasion of the bicentennial of the independence of Brazil, exhibits the group show Brazilian Histories, which occupies the 1st floor and 1st and 2nd basements of the institution. The exhibition is curated by Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director, and Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, guest curator, and features curators Tomás Toledo, Clarissa Diniz and Sandra Benites, in addition to several curators from the institution: Amanda Carneiro, assistant curator, André Mesquita, curator, Fernando Oliva, curator, Glaucea Britto, assistant curator, Guilherme Giufrida, assistant curator and Isabella Rjeille, curator.

Continuing the exhibitions dedicated to Histories at MASP, which have been taking place since 2016, with Histories of Childhood (2016), Histories of Sexuality (2017), Afro-Atlantic Histories (2018), Women's Histories, Feminist Histories (2019) and Dance Histories (2020), the new show of this series offers new, more inclusive, diverse and plural visual narratives about the history of Brazil.

Following the model of the exhibitions of the Histories set, the show is organized by themes, including Maps and flags, Landscapes and tropics, Land and territory, Resumptions, Rebellions and revolts, Religions, Feasts and Portraits, composed by works from different media, typologies, origins, regions and periods, from the 16th to the 21st century. In this context, the privileged perspective is not so much that of art history, but that of social or political, intimate or private histories, of customs and everyday life, based on visual culture. In this sense, the show also expresses a more polyphonic and fragmented character, fleeing from a definitive, canonical or totalizing vision.

To understand the exhibition, it is important to emphasize the particular meaning of “histories” in Portuguese, which encompasses both fiction and non-fiction, historical and personal accounts, of a public and private nature, and therefore have a more speculative, open-ended quality procedural than the traditional notion of history.

Two publications will be published by MASP on the occasion of the exhibition, with approximately 400 pages each. The first is an illustrated bilingual catalog with reproductions of all the works in the exhibition, as well as texts by the curators. The second is the anthology, aimed at both students and specialists, which brings together fundamental texts for the understanding of Brazilian histories, including texts from seminars, and presented in the same format as the anthologies that the museum publishes each year.

Note 14.5.22


MASP holds the mission of establishing, in a critical and creative way, dialogues between past and present, cultures and territories, based on the visual arts. Precisely because it is a diverse, inclusive and plural museum, MASP values freedom of expression and makes public its commitment to art and democracy in the country.

The Museum, in its more than 70 years of history, has never censored or inhibited any form of artistic expression. On the contrary, over the decades the institution has been the stage for important discussions in society, such as those present in the annual exhibition cycles Histories of Sexuality, Afro-Atlantic Histories, Feminist Histories and Indigenous Histories.

In 2021-22, in particular, MASP's programming is dedicated to Brazilian Histories, within the framework of the 200 years of independence, with a large group show of the same name that aims to critically review the country's history. The exhibition, scheduled to open on July 1, 2022, is organized into 7 thematic sections: “Maps and flags”, “Landscapes and tropics”, “Land and territory”, “Rebellions and revolts”, “Myths and rites”, “Parties” and “Portraits”. The section “Resumption” [Retomadas] was also part of the section, curated by Clarissa Diniz, guest curator, and Sandra Benites, deputy curator, whose participation was canceled upon the request of the curators themselves on May 3 this year.

The cancellation was due to the impossibility of including, in the section, 6 works by photographers linked to the Movimento Sem Terra – MST, requested by the curators to the museum's production department, well outside the deadlines of the schedule established in the contract. These restrictions are common in the production process and also prevented other curators of the show from requesting some works in their respective sections.

The production had already sought to make the deadlines for requesting the loan of works more flexible – a minimum of 6 months (for Brazilian museums) and 4 months (for galleries, private collections and artists) – and even accepted a request for the inclusion of posters and documents from the collection of the MST. The schedule is very important for a healthy and quality assembly for all the teams involved, especially in an exhibition of this size: there are more than 300 works, occupying two floors in the museum, with a curatorial body composed of 11 members, and a team operating within deadlines. It is essential, therefore, greater rigidity and discipline in relation to all instances, not only curatorial and production, but also contractual.

MASP's refusal to include the 6 photographs is in no way linked to the content of the works, nor does it represent any censorship of the MST – something inadmissible in a democratic institution such as MASP. It is worth noting that a text authored by the MST was included in the book Histórias Brasileiras: Antologia, which accompanies the exhibition and will be released in July, thus ruling out any possibility of censorship. Also, the “Rebellions and Revolts” section, from the same exhibition, includes several images linked to demonstrations and social movements.

The museum deeply regrets the cancellation of “Resumption” [Retomadas]. The exhibition Brazilian Histories will continue with the other 7 sections organized by the MASP curators – Adriano Pedrosa, Amanda Carneiro, André Mesquita, Fernando Oliva, Glaucea Britto, Guilherme Giufrida, Isabella Rjeille, Lilia Schwarcz and Tomás Toledo.

Note 20.5.22


May 20, 2022

MASP — Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand goes public with a new information on the cancellation of the "Retomadas" [Resumptions] segment, which was part of the group show Brazilian Histories, to be opened on July 1st. The exhibition is part of the Histories series, which included Histories of Sexuality (2017), Afro-Atlantic Histories (2018), Feminist Histories (2019), among others.

The Museum has reflected a lot on the current moment and, as a living museum, seeks to learn from this episode, including observing procedural flaws and errors in the dialogue with the curators Clarissa Diniz and Sandra Benites, responsible for the “Retomadas” [Resumptions] segment. The institution publicly regrets the cancellation of the segment, so important for the exhibition, and the departure of the project's curators.

Intending to move forward so that similar episodes do not happen again in the future, we are open to listening to Benites and Diniz, in order to learn from this experience and improve processes and work models.

In this sense, if the curators agree, we propose to postpone the opening of the exhibition and reorganize its schedule so that we can include the "Retomadas" [Resumptions] segment in the show.

Another measure we are proposing is to hold a public seminar, on the “Retomadas” [Resumptions], during the exhibition period with the participation of the curators.

Finally, we will propose the incorporation of the 6 photographs by André Vilaron, Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá and João Zinclar into the Museum's collection, if it is of interest to the artists, as a record of the importance of these images for the history of MASP and recognition of the work developed by the curators together with the Movimento Sem Terra—MST.

MASP is committed to opening new spaces for listening, in the certainty that what we want is a more plural, inclusive and democratic Brazil - which can only be built collectively, based on open, empathetic and collaborative dialogue.