Book launch: THE NAKEDNESS OF THE IMPERFECT COPY, by Wagner Schwartz

A performance at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo in 2017 led to an uproar and to violence. In his reimagining of the series Bichos by the artist Lygia Clark, Wagner Schwartz made his own naked body available to the audience to be manipulated. During the performance, his body (his work) was grazed by the hand of a child, the daughter of the artist’s dear friend, standing nearby. A video clip of that particular moment was captured, taken out of context, then disseminated across the internet. Immediately, a torrent of hatred and savagery was directed at the artist. Schwartz received countless death threats.

Taken as a whole, this story functions as a sad parable of Brazil at its most odious and hateful, markedly fanatical and reactionary, a Brazil that in 2016 had already revealed this side of itself and was now invading the room of a museum, no longer a safe space. A man’s body reduced to impotence; a work of art given no sacred purpose but turned into a commonplace object; a perceived threat to the dominant ideology colonizing the mind — all this would generate a collective, criminal response, one involving persecution, psychological assault, explicit threats online and, most disturbing of all, the unleashed and cowardly dissemination of fake news by groups and networks identified with Brazil’s extreme right. These voices clamored for the death of the artist.

The book before you is a report, both visceral and experimental, a merging of text and installation; of performance and word; of work and autobiography. Wagner Schwartz offers his unique testimony of an artist victimized by authoritarianism, by the enduring shadow of violence and by the cunning, obscure mechanism of censorship that prevails even in spaces (or nations) that are supposedly democratic.

The survivor, in more than one sense, of the regime that took over Brazil in 2016, Wagner Schwartz demonstrates, in this book like no other, the formation of a mode-of-being of the artist — and also of his art; even if gasping for air, suffocated and oppressed, they both desire one more breath of life.

March 31st at 8pm
at the l'Arlequin Theater
76 rue de Rennes - 75006

Editora Nós [Brazil]
[Translation: Johnny Lorenz]


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