The Instituto Tomie Ohtake recently opened their newest exhibition Histórias Mestiças, or Mestizo Histories. While the word history in English mostly refers to past, factual events, in Portuguese história has a more broad meaning to include both factual and fictional, public or personal accounts.
This exhibit is based on the notion that there are multiple histories that occur, not just a singular narrative. These histórias are shown through a variety of paintings, textiles, photographs, sculptures, historical documents and other objects. The organization of these objects is key: instead of being grouped by culture or time period, they are grouped by theme. There are seven in total: trails and maps, encounters and dis-encounters, masks and portraits, cosmologies and national emblems, rites and religions, work, weavings and graphic inscriptions. The result is seeing, for example, the myriad of ways work has occurred in Brazil, with torture devices used on slaves displayed next to indigenous peoples’ hunting tools.
Histórias Mestiças are marginal and subaltern, anthropophagic and post-colonial, multiple and inconstant, fractured and transversal histories; they are histories of flow and reflux, full of segregation, prejudice and discrimination. As we reestablish connections with other matrices, we rewrite histories of the past and propose new ones for the future.
-Adriano Pedrosa, curator
The exhibition runs from August 16 to October 5.
Cosmologies and National Emblems
Rites and Religions
Oxumaré by Caetano de Almeida; not a textile but actually an acrylic painting!
Tanga or loincloth in Weavings
Slaves’ shackles; presented in Work
Indigenous spatulas, used to flip over manioc cake.
Nego Bom (literally “Good Black”) is a banana candy. With each numbered worker here, you learned their monthly salary, how many people were in their family and other info.
Each tube is labeled with a skin color.
Retrato Silenciado (Silenced Portrait) by Dalton Paula. Notice their eyes are closed.
Part of Masks and Portraits.
Map of Brazil from 1565. The Rio de la Plata (which is southwest of Brazil, between Argentina and Uruguay) is labeled on the northwest part. The top portion is labeled Terra Non Descoberta, or Undiscovered Territory.
Encounters and Dis-encounters. The top row is a series of drawings by an indigenous artist. The second row is a series of paintings done by a European artist of indigenous Brazilians during colonial times. The last row is a series of photographs taken by a Swiss- Brazilian photographer during the 1980s when Brazil was taking measures to distribute vaccines. Because this particular tribe do not have any known names, they were given numbers for government records.