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"Emancipatory Action: Paula Trope and The Meninos"
2007-05-24 until 2007-08-31
Americas Society
New York, NY, USA

Emancipatory Action: Paula Trope and The Meninos is an exhibition organized by the Americas Society in conjunction with Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, that proposes a deep examination of issues related to authorship and artistic collaboration vis-à-vis critical tensions between the ethical and aesthetical that have permeated the last decades of Brazilian art as well as contemporary art practices elsewhere. The exhibition includes enlarged color prints presented as diptychs, triptychs or multiple panels in conjunction with works on video conceived and made by Trope and her partners, the so-called Meninos, children who live in the favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Janeiro. Trope has established a long term collaboration with the Meninos that includes series of photographs, videos, and, more recently, an urban planning project in Rio de Janeiro. 

Paula Trope belongs to a generation of artists who came to age after Conceptual art. Her work is informed by film theory and contemporary photography. Trope has chosen to build pin-hole cameras out of tin cans to stress the aesthetic dependency of these images on the notions of disposal/discarding and recuperation that are at the bottom of the appeal of any found object. The process of production of these images pushes such notions into the larger debate of photo realism and authorship. Insofar these images are co-produced by the Meninos who Trope randomly meets in Rio, and who live in the marginal areas –discarded from modern society—and recuperating them, as authors and agents. Trope functions almost as a curator or a producer of these photographs, making her subjects “authors” of their own work and changing their legal status to make them beneficiaries of the work.

The exhibition is the first show of Paula Trope and the Meninos in the United States and arrives timely, at the heat of a debate that questions the ethical position of artists who collaborate with marginal subjects such as illegal workers, prostitutes, mental patients, children, specially in underdeveloped countries and through the application of methodologies that exclude them from final decisions of the work.

Emancipatory Action: Paula Trope and the Meninos is curated by José Luis Falconi and Gabriela Rangel, the show will be on display at the Americas Society art gallery from May 24 to August 31, 2007.


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