Brazilian Aline Baiana presents an installation piece at the Berlin Biennale that references the collapse of two tailings dams which, combined, resulted in nearly 300 deaths and left behind an array of damage to the ecosystem. The artist collected materials in the devastated surroundings of Brumadinho, in the state of Minas Gerais, a place that has paradoxically become known for two reasons: as the location of the world’s largest open-air contemporary art museum, Inhotim; and as the stage of what is considered one of Brazil’s worst environmental crimes.
Born in Bahia, the artist moved to Rio de Janeiro as a teenager and now lives between Brazil and Berlin. In an interview, she recounts “the discomfort, outrage, and anguish” that typically permeate the genesis of her works, analyzes the current precariousness of Brazilian cultural production, but concludes: “One thing I’m certain of is ‘I’m not in this alone'”.
C&AL: Could you tell us a little about your path as an artist?
Aline Baiana: I went to film school, then worked with photography for a long time, but decided to take a step back from that to pursue a degree in Environmental Management and work for an NGO. That was the year Rio+20 took place and I was able to participate in the People’s Summit, a transformative experience for me that gave me greater awareness of certain memories and my ancestry and completely changed my commitment to the environmental and human rights struggle. In 2012 I also got a scholarship to attend the course “Art Outside the Cube: Artistic Actions and Political Reactions in the Contemporary Art Sphere”, at the Parque Lage School of Visual Arts, in Rio de Janeiro.
Over the next two years, a time of many street protests in Brazil, I did stencilling and collages on the streets in an attempt to bring the demonstrations to the daily life of the city. From there, I started my own research and artistic production, working on videos, objects, and installations. In 2019, I was invited by curator Claire Tancons to participate in the “Look For Me All Around You” platform at the Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber, in the United Arab Emirates. And in 2020, in spite of everything – and “everything” this year is an awful lot – I’m happy to have been invited to the Berlin Biennale by such a special curatorial team.