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"Participatory Environments by Vangaurd Bazilian Artist Helio Oiticica"
2001-09-18 until 2001-12-30
Wexner Center for the Arts
Columbus, OH, USA

Interactive environments designed by Hélio Oiticica, a leader in the Brazilian avant-garde movement, will be installed in the Wexner Center this fall in a landmark exhibition organized by the center. Hélio Oiticica: Quasi-cinemas, on view September 18–December 30, 2001, explores the artist’s unique relationship to cinema and his keen interest in the cinematic experience. By placing Oiticica in the context of filmmaking and by presenting these rarely shown works, the exhibition breaks new ground in the understanding of one of the most important international artists of the second half of the 20th century.

Oiticica used the term quasi-cinemas to refer to his experiments in film and slide projection, works meant to redefine the audience’s relationship to cinema. Three of the room-sized environments, designed by Oiticica and Brazilian filmmaker Neville D’Almeida, feature slide projections and elements from pop culture -- from Jimi Hendrix music to images of Marilyn Monroe -- plus such materials as balloons, sand, and hammocks that visitors are invited to use and inhabit. The exhibition will also feature other quasi-cinemas, as well as films about Oiticica and the only film Oiticica made.

This marks the first solo exhibition of Oiticica’s work in the United States in seven years and the first exhibition of his work co-produced by a multidisciplinary institution. The exhibition is curated by Carlos Basualdo, the Wexner Center’s chief curator of exhibitions, with assistance from Projeto Hélio Oiticica. It is co-produced by the Wexner Center for the Arts, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne. The exhibition has received major support from BrasilConnects, a non-profit organization that supports Brazilian arts and culture projects around the world.

Hélio Oiticica: Quasi-cinemas explores Oiticica’s interest in the cinematic experience, an aspect of his art that has received little attention internationally. The exhibition will feature his “quasi-cinemas,” experiments in film and slide projections carried out in the 1970s that included in a series of nine Block-Experiments in Cosmococa. Developed by Oiticica in association with Neville D’Almeida, the Cosmococas are participatory environments combining slide projection, music, objects from everyday life, and images of counterculture icons, often superimposed with cocaine drawings.

The exhibition will include three of the Cosmococa installations: CC1 Trashiscapes; CC3 Maileryn (with Marilyn Monroe’s image from a Norman Mailer book); and CC5 Hendrix-War. CC1 Trashiscapes incorporates mattresses and emery boards, plus projections of various objects from urban life, including images of Luis Buñuel from a New York newspaper. CC3 Maileryn includes sand and balloons, along with altered images of Marilyn Monroe. And in CC5 Hendrix-War, slides of altered images from the cover of Jimi Hendrix’s album War Heroes are projected on the gallery’s walls and ceiling; hammocks are hung web-like across the gallery, and Hendrix’s music fills the space. With these works—which Oiticica called “‘a multi-media salad,’ without the obtrusive dressing of ‘sense’ or point of view”—he and D’Almeida sought to question the relationship between the audience and cinema. D’Almeida will come to the Wexner Center to oversee the installation of the works.

Also on view are the quasi-cinemas Neyrótika—slides of young men taken by Oiticica in New York, and never shown in the United States—and Agripina é Roma Manhattan, the only film he ever made, also never shown in this country. A final component of the exhibition is a gallery space where visitors can browse through materials by and about Oiticica, including books, CD-ROM, tapes, and duplicated images of earlier work.

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