Mendes Wood DM presents Nosotros los otros, a solo presentation of Brazilian artist Paulo Nazareth at the inaugural presentation of Mendes Wood DM in New York City. Nosotros los otros, brings together bodies of work from 2005 to the present, including Nazareth’s durational walk performances as well as photo, film, sculpture, and work on paper. Spanning continents and media, this is the most comprehensive overview of the artist’s practice to take place in the United States.
Nazareth’s performance and installation-based work draws upon his Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous heritage to investigate social constructions of race, identity, and economic inequality. Through his multi-year walk performances throughout the Americas and the African continent, Nazareth documents the nuances of border crossing and connects transnational histories through precise and simple gestures to confront issues of immigration, globalization, and colonialism. His radical, non-linear walk-abouts, first South to North and then North to South again, reflect a notion of the world as an open field of possibility, one subject to re-writing and re-signifying. Nazareth’s practice represents a slow, real-time inquiry into his own experience and that of the individuals he encounters, tracing a subtle matrix of connections that link not only people, but communities and shared histories.
The exhibition takes as its point of departure PE VERMEI [Red Foot], an early video work shot in 2005 in his hometown near Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where the artist begins to document his practice as a walker. Nazareth’s sandaled feet gather red dirt in a poetic gesture imbued with social connotations in an economically and racially stratified Brazil.
Expanding on this theme, the exhibition features the series Notícias de América [News from America] from the artist’s travels throughout Southern and Latin America and the United States between 2009 to 2011. Throughout the journey, Nazareth walks in flip flops with the single-minded goal of not washing his bare feet as they touch the earth of the Americas. His feet become a sort of impressionistic image gathered from every country he traverses, until he washes them at last in the Hudson River.
Also on view are works from Cadernos de Africa [Africa Notebooks], an ongoing journey he began in 2013 crisscrossing South America and North America. Chronicling the near-entirety of the African continent, Cadernos de Africa gathers displaced and oftentimes unperceived cultural connections throughout the Black Atlantic as a way to begin to sketch the indelible and lasting legacy of the African diaspora throughout the Americas.
THE RED INSIDE, the most recent series, was undertaken by the artist from 2015 to 2018. The journey traces the various pathways of the Underground Railroad from the Southern United States to Canada, as well as mapping out locations significant to the Civil Rights movements and the wider history of enslavement in the Americas.
Taken as a whole, these bodies of work constitute the vast circular and interconnected pattern that Nazareth seeks out in his wanderings. Humanistic and insightful, his practice presents a radical horizontality between cultures and shared histories.