Opening of the exhibition The Art of Storytelling prediction for June

Dulcinéia Catadora book project and workshops for The Art of Storytelling
Curated by Selene Wendt of The Global Art Project for Museu de Arte Contemporanea (MAC), Niterói, Brazil

The Art of Storytelling is a thematic exhibition that features international contemporary artists whose work is inspired by literature and poetry. Curated by Selene Wendt specifically for Museu de Arte Contemporanea (MAC) Niterói in Brazil, the exhibition will take place June 11  – July 24, 2016. The exhibition coincides with the re-inauguration of MAC, which has been closed for renovations for over a year. The Art of Storytelling is divided into several parts that will take place both at MAC and at additional venues in Niteroi.

To reflect the importance of the societal dimension of the exhibition project we developed a special book project in collaboration with Lucia Rosa from the Sao Paulo-based Dulcinéia Catadora collective of artists/writers/catadores that actively engaged youth from the local community and neighboringMorro do Palácio favela, providing a unique opportunity for literary and artistic expression. The book project represents a highly innovative approach to collaborative art practice that actively uses art and literature as vital tools to implement change on a societal level.   
foto: Eli Antonelli/brbrasis

The Dulcinéia Catadora artist/writers collective, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, publishes poetry and short stories in the form of small cardboard books. These publications, which are hand-painted and sewn one by one, are the central axis of their creative process, with sustainability and empowerment as core values of the collective. The artist Lúcia Rosa launched Dulcinéia Catadora in São Paulo in 2007 with Peterson Emboava after both worked at the 27th São Paulo Biennial with Eloísa Cartonera, the Argentine artist/writers collective that started this practice in 2003. Having already published 107 titles,Dulcinéia Catadora follows an idealistic path that enables them to promote young and unpublished authors, thereby opening up for new narratives and opportunities within Contemporary Latin American Literature.
Using art and literature as tools for societal change

We developed a series of workshops to produce 500 one-of-a-kind cardboard covers for The Art of Storytelling exhibition catalogue/book. More specifically, youth from the local the neighboring Morro do Palacio favela, as well as catadores and students from local schools, will be directly engaged in the actual outcome of the book to the extent that it will reflect their dreams, aspirations, stories and ideas. The book features information about the exhibition as well as documentation of various aspects of the workshops, in addition to an introduction by Mario Vargas Llosa, short stories and poems by Fabio Morais, Paulo Scott, Sérgio Sant’Anna, Douglas Diegues, as well as poems and photographs from participating youth.

The creative process involved engaging the youth to paint the covers cut from cardboard boxes freehand and with the aid of stencils. The handmade process means that each cover is a unique cover created out of recycled cardboard boxes. It is important to emphasize that working with youth from the favela requires long-term engagement and trust. Therefore, the workshops took place over a period of several months leading up to the publication and exhibition.

Exposing the youth to literature was an essential aspect of the workshops, and each workshop began with Lúcia Rosa reading a poem and a short story. Once the workshops were underway we invited additional writers and artists to meet with and inspire the participating youth. Invited guests included Magne Furholmen and Rosana Ricalde, who are also participating artists in the exhibition, as well as the writer Paulo Scott.   

Magne Furuholmen, participated in a workshop on September 28, where he engaged participants to stamp words into massive clay blocks, resulting in graffiti-like sculptures that gradually dissolved and decay in the time leading up to the exhibition. His monotypes and sculptures from the series ‘Literary Constructs’ 2015 were the source of inspiration for Magne Furuholmen’s participation in the workshop.

Each monotype features one large letter as the background, which can be read from a distance as the word LITERARY CONSTRUCTS. Close-up one can read words that derive from the letters in these two words, resulting in linguistic fragments such as ‘non-sensical cotton’, ‘ocular erotica utensils’, ‘surrealist stationary’ etc. In an approach to language and text that is similar to Elida Tessler’s interpretations of literary texts, this work is based on the idea that there are 5 500 alternate words than can be derived strictly from the letters in LITERARY CONSTRUCTS in the English language alone. As an artist with a longtime interest in the play between image and text, and as a poet and songwriter in his own right, the play between text and image in Magne Furuholmen’s work is poetic and literary in the most abstract sense.

Dulcinéia Catadora’s work in general is driven by clearly defined ideals. They provide a platform for artistic and literary expression for individuals whose voices would otherwise not be heard and for the underprivileged of society, which is why Dulcinéia Catadora also pays workers of the recycling cooperative (catadores) who are members of the Dulcinéia Catadora collective for the books that they make. With The Art of Storytelling book project, both the youth and the catadores who were involved were directly compensated for their time and participation.

What makes The Art of Storytelling book project and workshops so special is that it provided a unique opportunity to empower underprivileged youth within the context of an important international exhibition at an established Brazilian museum. By bringing the youth into the project at an early stage, with art and literature as our tools, we sought to empower the youth and ensure that their voices would be heard in terms of the hand-painted covers, the content of the publication, and also in relation to a collective work that will become an important and vital part of the exhibition itself.

The successful completion of this project signals the first stage of a long-term vision to revitalize the entire community surrounding Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Niterói.  This includes collaborations with nearby institutions such as Museu Janete Costa de Arte Popular and Solar do Jambeiro, the revitalization of the neighboring Ilha de Boa Viagem to restore it to a cultural gathering place, and an overall increase in socially engaged initiatives that will create a lasting and meaningful dialogue between the local community and Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Niterói. Ultimately, the impact and societal benefits of The Art of Storytelling book project will continue to resonate beyond the timeframe of the workshops and exhibition to benefit everyone involved.

List of participating artists in the exhibition

Gilvan Barreto, Dulcinéia Catadora, Marilá Dardot, Magne Furuholmen, Lobato & Guimaraes, William Kentridge, Cristina Lucas, Fabio Morais, Ernesto Neto, Ulf Nilsen, Andre Parente, Rodrigo Petrella, Rosana Ricalde, Eder Santos, Valeska Soares, Elida Tessler, Sergio Bernardes/Guilherme Vaz and Nina Yuen. 

For more relevant information please see the following links:

The 13 minute film about the Dulcineia Catadora project for The Art of Storytelling:

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