Plínio Palhano

On the occasion of the "Mostra do Redescobrimento, Brasil + 500" (Rediscovery Exhibition, Brazil + 500), held in 2000 in São Paulo, some healthy polemics, as usual, came up, among them the questioning over the curator´s role, because some artists felt wronged or not represented in a worthy way in that distinguished display.

Some critics, historians and museologists took part in the discussion. The magazine "Arte e Informação" gave them a chance to publicize their points of view on its pages. One of them, Paulo Sérgio Duarte, who prefers to be identified as a co-ordinator of project, dispensing with the title of curator, with knowledge of the subject, said that "the good curator is the one who does not show off, but the one who let come out only the art he is presenting. When the Board of Curators is plain to the view, it spoils everything from the start." To make himself understood by the Board of Curators, Cildo Meireles, one of the plastic artists selected for the exhibition, had to make use of a middleman to put his thought

about the hanged works, even though the Board had the say, which went against his principles.

Henrique do Amaral was another artist who felt poorly represented. Of his works, only two were selected: those he did not regard as important for not giving a real view of his work performed during forty-five years. He went so far as to state: "I´m not their darling." On the other hand, the critic of art, historian and museologist Aracy Amaral was salty and ironical: "The curators wear fashion house clothes like the Brazilian Team coaches - footwear, watches - and there is a dandyism in the air which is a good match for sex, affection, moral, drugs, as if nothing else mattered, but this: the overwhelming importance of money and labels."

On his "Critical Dictionary of Cultural Politics", Teixeira Coelho brings near the present-day sense of the curator to its juridical definition: "he who, out of legal or juridical obligation (cultural in the case), has the duty of taking care of the goods of those who are incapable of acting in law as the orphans, madmen, drug addicts, spendthrifts, etc. The artists appear as those who do not know or do not make clear where their works and proposals fit in: they have no control over their production and are relatively incapable of managing it." That is: the artist, in principle, left off thinking his world, his culture, just to be a simple instrument for the theoretical reflections of this new art agent - the curator.

Anyhow, the artists defined and made the history of art as we know it. No other characters, but the artists, were commissioned to construct this way of thinking. Of course, they have always been partners of the state, whose nearest figure these days is the curator. It is difficult to imagine an artist like Picasso, with his keen look, tamely listening to the opinion of a curator about his next retrospective exhibition. He, folded arms, making believe he is protecting himself from interferences set up within the international criteria which are in force. Brassai, Picasso´s favourite photographer, on his book "Talks with Picasso", tells a fact witnessed by himself, which depicts my speech.

An outstanding German editor was very interested in launching a kind of album on the master´s sculptures only. As Brassai was the official photographer, he helped the editor with the review of the sculptures which should be photographed in Picasso´s studio. Suddenly, the editor stops in front of a sculpture, The Fowl, and whispers to Brassai: "It is no use photographing it. It is more of an object than a sculpture." Picasso managed to listen to the editor´s observation and, pointing at the sculpture, angrily, said: "I make an absolute point that this sculpture is in my album!" Some hours later, without the editor´s presence, Brassai hears Picaso breathe out his anger: "An object! Then, my Fowl is just an object! Who he thinks he is to teach me, Picasso, what it is or not a sculpture! What a cheek! I probably understand more than him what it is a sculpture. People stick to these old ideas, old-fashioned definitions, as if the artist´s role were not exactly to propose new definitions…"