Swinguerra, the Brazilian pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale

The duo of video artists Barbara Wagner and Benjamic de Burca bring together choreography and experts from life to present an uncensored view of the conflictual character of the South American country.

Biennale Arte Venezia 2019, Padiglione Brasile, courtesy Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

How can one represent a country that cancels the Ministry of Culture, minimises needs and urgencies regarding education and destroys the indigenous young generations through military force? The answer comes from deep within a cultural institution, but also from the heart of Brazilian tradition, in an international context. An uncensored universally addressed declaration from the duo of video artists Barbara Wagner (1980, Brasilia), and Benjamin de Burca (1975, Munich).

The Brazilian pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition in Venice resonates like a paean, a war mantra, Swinguerra, danced to collective choreography, by bodies and faces without gender or origin, shining, semi-dressed bodies, barefoot on the sand, feet that interpret the anaerobic rythmns of swingueire, brega funk, and passinhos de maloca.

The grass-roots dance schools Cia. Extremo, Grupo La Màfia and Bonde do Passinho/As do Passinho S.A from the Recife suburbs, pay tribute to the flag, to the foundational “Ordem e Progresso”, giants moving against a stasis which no longer represents the identity of Brazil. The film, projected specularly on two screens in the pavilion in the Giardini, uses music and dance as ritualistic backdrops that drive the dancers to exploit the beats to arm every movement, to shout phrases that at times assume a poetic structure and at times, instead, remain dialectic expressions.

Padiglione Brasile, vista dell’allestimento, foto Giulia Di Lenarda
Padiglione Brasile, vista dell’allestimento, foto Giulia Di Lenarda

The aim of Wagner and de Burca not only weaves among the twisted, transitional and sinuously exposed bodies of the dancers, but finds the strength to enter the casual and ambiguous space of the excerpts of daily life which are shown between one choreography and another. The result of a collaborative and horizontal practice with the people represented, the film develops in a way that is never effectively documentary. “The artists present in our films are people who we know well and with whom we collaborate for the designing of scanrios”, says Barbara Wagner. “In filming, before the camera, they are themselves, because it is this kind of knowledge carried by and within the body that we seek to analyse together with them”.

Barbara Wagner, Benjamin de Burca
58. International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia
Giardini del Castello, Biennale di Venezia
11 May – 24 November 2019

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