60th Venice Biennale

Hãhãwpuá Pavilion: the Community Is More Important Than the Work Itself

Artist Glicéria Tupinambá was chosen to represent the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion due to her connection to the Tupinambá de Olivença Indigenous Reserve and her fight for indigenous rights. The artist will work with the Tupinambá Community of Serra do Padeiro and Olivença to create her works. Alongside her, Olinda Tupinambá and Ziel Karapotó will also participate. Her research and work with the Tupinambá community challenge colonial narratives and highlight issues of heritage and women’s rights.

C& América Latina: Congratulations to all! Could you talk about the process of choosing Glicéria Tupinambá and the reason for this decision?

Curatorial team: Glicéria followed a path that goes beyond the idea of an artist’s trajectory. She carries the Tupinambá territory—the Serra do Padeiro in the Tupinambá de Olivença Indigenous Reserve—with her, and the struggle for rights within the indigenous movement. The research she has been doing within her community, on Tupinambá history and relationships with museums and other artistic and academic institutions around the world allow us to see the ways colonial violence is perpetuated, constantly updated. Discussions about material and intangible heritage, as well as discussions about indigenous rights and women’s rights are present in her work with Tupinambá cloaks, when she states that “the cloak is feminine”.

C&AL: Why did it take so long for the pavilion to be represented by a native artist? And what has been going on in artistic structures in Brazil that demonstrates this won’t be the last time?

EC: Are we the ones who should be answering this question? Institutions around the world have been revisiting their relations policies. There’s no guarantee this won’t be the last time, but we dream of continued indigenous pavilions as a way of updating stereotypical narratives. It’s important that we place ourselves in time: the Venice Biennale was first held in 1893 and we know that in 1986, so-called “Arte Plumária”, or featherwork, was featured in the Brazilian pavilion, despite the absence of indigenous people. This timeline raises a series of relevant questions: what were indigenous peoples in Brazil experiencing in 1893? And the Tupinambá people? What realities did indigenous people face in 1986?

C&AL: Why change the name of the pavilion?

EC: Because indigenous peoples in Brazil know this territory by several other names, starting on Brazil’s coast in this narrative dispute between invasion and discovery. The Pataxó people know this ancient territory as Hãhãwpuá. So, our proposal that the pavilion have another name is a pedagogical measure for the Brazilian people, a way of raising the questions: how do the indigenous peoples of the south know Brazil? And the people of the northeast? And the Amazonians? And so on. The name change makes us aware of this territory we share.

C&AL: Why is it important to invite other participants to the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion?

Bringing together the Tupinambá territory of Serra do Padeiro by inviting artists from the community itself is a way of breaking with the exoticism that has long been widespread in Europe about “inhabitants of the new world”. It’s a way of establishing a dialogue between the present and the history of deterritorialization of the Tupinambá people told by voices that resisted, but that were erased for a long time. The fact that the artist makes her work available to the community makes perfect sense: while non-indigenous artists think of work with other artists as something collective, here we bring a presentation that goes beyond the collective, in a sense of community, which brings people together and moves the community. Bringing in other artists is doing another type of artistic work, where the community is more important than the work itself. This relationship symbolizes an initial milestone in the Indigenous Movement and in Glicéria Tupinambá’s work as an artist and researcher.

The 60th Venice Biennale will open on April 20, 2024.