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Curator of Canceled Art Exhibition Says Santander Bank Breached Elementary Norms

09/13/2017 - 11h29

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GUSTAVO FIORATTI
ISABELLA MENON
FROM SÃO PAULO

FERNANDA CANOFRE
FOLHA CONTRIBUTOR, FROM PORTO ALEGRE

Gaudêncio Fidelis, the curator of the art show "Queermuseum - Cartography of the Differences in Brazilian Art", said he was disappointed by the decision made by Santander Cultural, which, on Sunday (the 10th) caved to criticism of the supposedly sexual connotation of the artwork and canceled the exhibit in Porto Alegre.

"Santander breached the most elementary norms of respect and consideration toward the artists who were present, without even approaching the curatorship and without considering that, through our work, we were producing knowledge", Mr. Fidelis complained.

The bank said in a statement that the art "does not constitute our worldview, or the values we believe in. That is why we have decided to anticipate the end of the exhibit".

The controversy emerged on Wednesday (the 6th) - 26 days after the exhibit premiered - when videos containing pieces by Adriana Varejão and Bia Leite went viral on the internet.

The first piece portrays sexual situations in past historical contexts, while the second piece is a painting featuring two children, with the phrases "gay child, goddess of the waters" and "gay child, lambada [a musical genre] transvestite" written over their heads.

"These incite pornography and pedophilia", said one guest in a video that was shared by the conservative organization Free Brazil Movement (MBL).

Protesters also claimed that the exhibit stimulated zoophilia - a reference to a piece called "Scene from the countryside 2" (2013), by Varejão, featuring a detailed portrayal of two people having sex with an animal.

The artist stated that the painting is a compilation of practices that really exist, some of which are historical, while others are based on literary narratives, or narratives she heard from traveling around the country.

According to Kim Kataguiri, what bothered MBL was the fact that the exhibit was "directed toward public and private school students", a statement that the curator of the exhibit denies.

The activist said that MBL would not have protested if the exhibit had been directed toward adults.

According to Kataguiri, he found out about the intended audience in the project that Santander submitted for the Rouanet law, which encourages cultural investments. However, the form does not contain any information stating that the exhibit's intended audience included children.

FISCAL INCENTIVE

In a statement issued on Monday (the 11th), the Santander bank apologized "to all those who found that the 'Queermuseum' exhibit was disrespectful toward religious symbols or beliefs".

Santander's press office issued a statement saying that it intends to surrender all funding connected to fiscal incentives - the exhibit raised more than R$ 800,000 (US$ 256,000) through the Rouanet Law.

Celio Godin, the founder and president of Nuances, a group that fights for free sexual expression, said that criticism directed toward the LGBT community was merely a distraction for extremist right wing groups and conservatives to convey their ideas.

One of the things that bothered Mr. Godin was the fact that the mayor of Porto Alegre, Nelson Marchezan Jr. (PSDB), stated on social media that he was in favor of canceling the exhibit. He later deleted the post.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

Read the article in the original language

Roger Lerina/Folhapress
The controversy emerged when videos containing pieces by Adriana Varejão and Bia Leite (picture) went viral on the internet
The controversy emerged when videos containing pieces by Adriana Varejão and Bia Leite (picture) went viral on the internet

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