Paulo Bruscky: Art Is Our Last Hope is the first survey exhibition of Brazilian artist Paulo Bruscky’s career in the United States. Bruscky was born in Recife, in northeastern Brazil, in 1949. He came of age during the darkest time in his nation’s history, witnessing the 1964 military coup that instigated more than 20 years of dictatorial oppression and ruthless attacks by the military regime on insurgents as well as anyone deemed “subversive.” Nevertheless, he has always operated under the utopian vision that art has the potential to instigate social change, and in his multifaceted works he consistently challenges the socio-political status quo.
One of the world’s first artists to manipulate the xerox machine as an aesthetic device, Bruscky is also a mail artist, poet, creator of artist’s books, inventor, performance artist, photographer, and filmmaker. He has played a critical role in bringing major international artistic movements to Brazil, including Fluxus, mail art, and performance art. Throughout his career, he has produced artworks inspired by everyday experiences that challenge audiences to think about how the world unfolds around them. He has continuously addressed the anonymity and alienation of the individual in the urban landscape, countering that experience with humor, irony, and caustic wit.
Despite being one of Brazil’s most important contemporary artists, one at the forefront of avant-garde artistic practice in that country since the 1970s, Bruscky has long been under-recognized outside of his homeland. This exhibition seeks to remedy that. Curated by Dr. Antonio Sergio Bessa, Director of Curatorial and Education Programs at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the exhibition features works created between 1971 and 2011 in a range of art forms, including mail art, video, sound art, Xerox art, and performance documentation.
The catalogue accompanying the exhibition will offer English-speaking audiences a window onto Bruscky’s pioneering production for the first time. The volume will feature two major essays interpreting the various facets of Bruscky’s work. Dr. Bessa will contextualize Bruscky’s practice within the broader international scene by tracing a parallel between the artist’s strategies and the various theoretical and philosophical ideas current since the late 1960s. Dr. Davidson, who defended a doctoral dissertation on Bruscky’s work, will contribute an essay exploring what he called “communication art” in all its iterations: mail art, telegram art, fax art, xerox art, and newspaper classifieds, all linked by the artist’s subversion and simultaneous transformation of ready-made communication systems into unorthodox channels for art. The book will also include an interview with Paulo Bruscky conducted at the artist’s studio in April, 2013, by Dr. Bessa, and a chronology spanning the artist’s career, including an overview of the socio-historical context in Brazil throughout the 1960s and 70s, organized by Dr. Davidson.
About the artist
Born in Recife, Brazil, Paulo Bruscky began his career in the late 1960s, becoming involved with the international mail-art movement and participating in Fluxus exhibitions around the world. In the following decades, he experimented with new media and performance. Bruscky’s work reflects a continuous engagement with Recife and its culture, filtered and documented in the artist’s books, photographs, and other media. Organized by Antonio Sergio Bessa, Director of Programs at The Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Paulo Bruscky: Art Is Our Last Hope is made possible with support from the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, Galeria Nara Roesler, the Consulate General of Brazil in New York, Itaú, and Associação para o Patronato Contemporâneo – APC.