BEATRIZ MILHAZES’ HANGING KALEIDOSCOPES
By Dairia Kymber
What’s art to censorship and repression? Between 1964 to 1985, these were key terms for Brazil as the country went through a severe military dictatorship. Brazilian artists struggled to make work and were forced to use found, ephemeral materials and ad hoc construction to depict their artistry. When the Brazilian Carnival began in 1973 as an ode to the god of wine, Dionysus, it grew into an expression of political dissatisfaction and a chance for art to blossom. From the mind of one of Brazil’s best known artists, Beatriz Milhazes, comes kaleidoscope-filled furnishings directly inspired by her country’s annual Carnival Festival.
Milhazes is celebrated worldwide for her eclectic work reflecting both Latin American and European traditions. She references the history that affected many through geometric shaped, hand-painted, chandelier like sculptures in a new installation entitled Gamboa II. Residing in the lobby of NYC’s Jewish Museum, Gamboa II’s bits of shiny, candy-colored paper and plastic recall a characteristic of Brazil’s art. What appears as an innocent form is actually rich in essence. A canopy of five hanging sculptures were created and composed of materials similar to the materials used to decorate carnival floats, the most important and artistic element of the Brazilian Carnival. Without the floats, the festival would lack a foundation and story-telling platform.
Milhazes tells her own story, along with Cidade do Samba (Samba City), a neighborhood in Rio heavily populated with Samba schools, connecting the pieces not only to the popular floats, but to the popular Brazilian dance style of Samba. Gamboa II originally was installed as a set design for Tempo de Verão (Summertime), a dance by choreographer (and the artist’s sister) Marcia Milhazes. Onstage, the dancers moved and touched the hanging appendages. Its environmental and dynamic element is maintained at its second installment in the lobby of NYC’s Jewish Museum.
NYC’s Jewish Museum houses Gamboa II as part of the series, “Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings”, in which artists from around the globe are invited to create new art or adapt a work for placement in the entrance lobby. Gamboa II will hang in the lobby of the Jewish Museum until September 18, 2016.