Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium

Solo en Inglès

Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980), installation view of Tropicália (1966–67) at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 2016. Plants, sand, birds, and poems by Roberta Camila Salgado, dimensions variable. Collection of César and Claudio Oiticica. © César and Claudio Oiticica. Image courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Photograph by Bryan Conley

Narrator: Oiticica made this installation for a 1967 exhibition in Rio.

Christopher Dunn: And he creates this installation, known as Tropicália, that features these two structures that he called Penetraveis, or Penetrables, in which people could literally enter and penetrate, as it were, set within a larger space covered in rocks and dirt—the kind of ground cover that you might find walking in a poor neighborhood in urban Brazil. And tropical plants, and even a tropical animal, a parrot that's in a cage.

One of the Penetrables simply has written on it, "pureza el mito", or "purity is a myth," which questions some of the assumptions about any national culture and the quest for originality. And the other one was more of a mazelike structure. It was bigger, in which the person, the participant, the viewer, would enter, go around several times until the person was completely enveloped in darkness, and at the end there was a television set that was turned on. And what he was trying to do there, I think, was to point to ways in which the favela, oftentimes seen as these places that are pre-modern, by that time were already places where people had television sets. And so there was this sort of juxtaposition there, of on one hand, what I called the aesthetics of precarity, right, these kind of precarious structures that evoke the precarious dwellings of the favelas. And yet at the same time you have this symbol of, what at that time was ultra-modernity, which was a television set.