IF YOU DON’T FIGHT YOU DIE - art democracy utopia
Utopia is a concept that refers to a dislocation and also to a belonging. A place that is not the one you live and a time that is not the one of right now, defined as they are by dissatisfactions, refusals and faults. Utopia is, therefore, a projection of a territory and a moment in which desires and rights are in some way satisfied and observed. Any utopia, therefore, is always formulated by a subject that occupies a certain position in the world. It is a place and a time of appeasement and rejoicing, imagined starting from a particular point of view. Based on an individual or community that designs, as opposed to a present that damages, a future in which they will be repaired due to needs and damage. The utopia of one person, therefore, always different from the utopia of anybody else. Those who have precarious or even vetoed access to housing, health and education, as well as being rightly afraid of suffering psychiatric or physical violence at any moment, conceive an ideal place that certainly differs from that imagined by a person who doesn’t suffer from the absence of even the most basic requirements of life.
Utopian thinking is, therefore, essentially political. It enunciates and announces the inequalities so often foundational in a specific social context. It confronts a set of institutional and subjective maintaining devices from a situation in which satisfaction and security are only valid for a few, and proclaim the idea of another world, organised in a more equal and fairer way. The condition for the exercise of utopian thinking is, as a consequence, the existence of democracy. In the absence of the environment that welcomes disagreement and dissent, these regulatory devices suffocate the fabrications of other possibilities, even justifying open and brutal force to achieve this. They suffocate fabrications that echo and combat an unequal partition of possibilities in life, reaching, ultimately, the extermination of those who desire and demand. Utopian thinking is a space for confrontation and dispute.
There are many ways to fabricate another place that might exist in the future, although making politics and making art are two of the oldest and most constant. They both use the construction of shapes, the utterance of speech and the movement of bodies to fracture the consensus that shapes an economic and social environment that satisfies only a few, while it segregates or jettisons many more. Utopian fabrications that take over the parliament and the museum, as well as the streets and the virtual channels, as platforms of communication and struggle. Fabrications that have their origins in places as diverse as schools, tribal villages, brothels, unions, quilombo settlements, occupations and wherever there is the most expression of discontentment with a present that copes with unfulfilled dreams and the denial of rights. Fabrications that cling to what already exists in a variety of ways: while some are busy showing the problems that mark the lives of so many, others dedicate themselves to a symbolic remaking, in a more inclusive manner, of the relationships between people and positions, between groups and possibilities. Both, however, seeking to distribute in another way, in the spaces where time runs, the bodies that inhabit the world.
This exhibition seeks to talk about the utopian thinking that has marked recent Brazilian art history and that informs, through the most varied of strategies, the production of many of its practices. A production permeated by interdictions and inventions of class, race, gender, religion and other markers of difference that exist in the country today. An exhibition that doesn’t aim to be imposing, however, in the annotation of this territory imagined in the field of the sensitive, pointing out only a few of its most visible landmarks, as well as others that have perhaps been insufficiently catalogued. An exhibition that softens the boundaries between arts and politics to embrace one and other under the sign of the projection of a future that would render them, at most, unnecessary. Only so that other demands of inclusion may arise, and with them new forms, speeches and gestures, since desire and will move in time as moving targets that can never be reached.
If you don’t fight you die is a phrase screamed by many of the people who insist on building, in a state of constant dispute, places and times that are more generous and more inclusive. It is a call cried louder in particular by those who seek to enforce a constitutional right to housing in Brazil. A phrase that synthesizes the vital certainty that moves the utopian construction: the impossibility of stopping the search for what is wanted and what is needed. To adopt this as the general title of the exhibition is to desire to be together, to be a mass. It is to remember that, as long as any form of inequality in the access to the condition of life that for some has been like this for a long time, history will have no end.
If you don’t fight you die – art democracy utopia brings together a collection of Brazilian visual artists who, in a variety of forms, contribute through their work to a collective imagination of a Brazil that is different from that one that it is. Artists who, together with many others who could also be present in the exhibition, invent ways – even if necessarily insufficient or flawed – of figuring the insupportable nature of the violence continually imposed on certain inhabitants of this country – black citizens, the LGBTQI+ population, indigenous people, the poor in general. Or that, alternatively, they call on those who care about such a situation to explain their inadmissibility and to use their voices and bodies in the construction of what is not yet there. Also part of the exhibition are the artists who, instead of representing specific disputes in their works, reflect in them, in a synthetic and almost abstract way, situations of helplessness and struggle, pain and radical change. Although almost all of the works united here are recent, we have opted to include some that were created in previous decades, suggesting the temporal continuity for the battle of futures that diverge. Lastly, hovering above all of the exhibited works, flags created by social movements of different origins and reaches announce, in parallel with the discussion that the artists utter, pending demands for equality. Remember, that starting from many different positions and corners, that is necessary and possible to create places that do not exist, in a future that is nearer rather than more distant. For the present.