Brazil has long been called “the country of the future.” From the dramatic construction of the ultramodern capital of Brasília in the late 1950s to the country’s status as an emerging economic powerhouse in the 21st century, Brazilian national identity is inextricably intertwined with the idea of its potentiality.
Yet the Brazilian saying from which this idea derives is more complex, for it suggests that the notion of potentiality is itself something of a mirage, an illusion that blinds its citizens to the reality of the present day. In 1970, the French sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre described the “blind field” as a transitional zone that lies between socio-economic modes of production and escapes comprehension within existing ideological paradigms.
This book, documenting the eponymous 2013 exhibition at Krannert Art Museum, takes up blindness as a critical category, a metaphor for the way in which the obstruction of perception can illuminate alternate modes of knowledge and experience. It features twenty emerging and mid-career artists working in Brazil who offer a critical perspective on processes of transition within contemporary society, be it from the public space of the street to the virtual zone of the computer screen, or the scale of local communities to the structure of large-scale political actions. These works speak to the complexity and heterogeneity of an art milieu that is both tied to the local and manifestly global in reach.