Arthur Bispo do Rosário. Casinha Prateada [Little Silver House], undated. Wood and cardboard, 10cm X34cm X25 cm. Col. Museu Bispo do Rosário Arte Contemporânea.

CASA B: Museu Bispo do Rosário Arte Contemporânea Residency Program

Diana Kolker and Raquel Fernandes

Contemporaneity has been increasingly favoring experimental collaborative artistic practices over notions of art centered on the object and the individuality of the artist. Beginning in the 1960s new artistic, curatorial, and educational practices have shaped other ways of relating to art, countering the white cube modernist exhibition model and its isolated object. Since then artistic production has engaged with interactions ranging from territories in their materiality to the dematerialized production of subjectivities. In the words of curator/critic Frederico Morais: “From the appropriation of objects to the simple situational appropriation of geographical or poetic areas.”1 In this sense, artist residencies can institute new spaces for forming artists; that is shaping, training, influencing all in one. Spaces that also offer new contexts for the production and diffusion of art, having as their main presupposition fostering significant experiences with residential territories and their inhabitants through processes that privilege presence, exchange and interaction.

In the last few decades the map of the arts has been shifting, pointing toward the end of divisions between “centers” that dictate the parameters of legitimization and insertion of artistic production, and “peripheries,” where in the past the consumption and reproduction of these models was expected. A new geography of art now seeks to re-draw itself by challenging the idea of a universal art, breaking hegemonic and colonialist narratives that exoticize so-called peripheral cultures, giving rise to the creation of multiple decentralized narratives. Here, as curator Guilherme Vergara notes: “we can recognize the poetic resistance of art cohabiting with its institutionalization or spectacularization, the macro with a micro geography of events of solidarity.”2

In this context artistic residency programs have emerged within the art system on a global scale. The diffusion of this type of program has coincided with the post-Cold War period marked by the global advance of the neoliberal capitalist model. The last decades have seen a proliferation of programs promoted and subsidized by small to large-scale private institutions, and to a lesser extent, by public agencies. We can talk about a certain faddishness and even about capture by the market with its portfolios and networks. Paradoxically, artist residencies, which refer to fixity in a particular territory, are inserted in a broader movement of mobility, decentering and dislocation, as part of the logic of the circulation of capital. This paradox is also reflected in the distribution of privileges over who can circulate. The colonialism, elitism, racism, and chauvinism that historically constitute our culture are still preserved in social structures ensuring distinctions of lived and accessed worlds. Who is able to add the “artistic residence” category to their portfolio also reflects this.

These are all reflections that inform our thinking. Why carry out a residency program at the Bispo do Rosário Museum of Contemporary Art (mBrac)? How does Casa B, the name of our residency program [T.N casa = house or home] fit into this geography of the arts? mBrac is both a contemporary art institution and a municipal service building that is part of the Juliano Moreira Institute for Mental Health Care. The only public museum in the west zone of Rio de Janeiro, mBrac was created with the purpose of safeguarding and disseminating the work of Arthur Bispo do Rosário, who was interned for fifty years as an inmate in the Colônia Juliano Moreira asylum [T.N. Juliano Moreira Colony now the Juliano Moreira Institute although still called “Colônia”], in the period before psychiatric reform. Under its most recent management the mBrac has expanded its mission. Through programs developed by the Escola Livre de Artes [Free School of the Arts], including the Casa B Residency Program, the museum seeks to identify itself as a social community museum, developing training platforms and public programs aimed at artists, educators, curators, professionals, mental health service users, and residents of the region promoting new perspectives on art, education and care.

Arthur Bispo do Rosário. Como é que eu devo construir um muro nos fundos da minha casa [How Should I Construct a Wall at the Back of My House], undated. Concrete, wood and glass, 11 x 50 cm. Col: mBrac.

Daniel Murgel. Como fazer as paredes da minha casa [How to Make the Walls of My House]. Artistic residency on the occasion of the exhibition Play curated by Marta Mestre and Fernanda Pequeno, 2013. Photo: Daniel Murgel

The first experiment with an artist resident in the museum took place at the Polo Experimental –a community cultural and educational center known as “Polo” for mental health users, their families and the Colônia community run by mBrac – in the context of the exhibition Play organized in 2013 by the curators Marta Mestre and Fernanda Pequeno. Taking Bispo do Rosário’s work Como é que devo construir o muro nos fundos da minha casa [How Should I Build the Wall at the Back of My House] as a touchstone, the artist Daniel Murgel proposed Como fazer as paredes de minha casa [How to Make the Walls of My House], comprising the construction of what was to be a planned ruin – a house of sorts. The bricks were made from the very land of Colônia Juliano Moreira. With the help of mental health network members and community residents hired as helpers, they made the bricks and erected the walls. In the courtyard of the Polo the work [T.N. in its double meaning of obra in Portuguese meaning both artwork and under construction] has been subject to climatic changes that create a singular weathering of its permanence. After four years the walls remain firm, but their presence mostly lingers through the immateriality of the relations established between the artist, the users of the space, and the institution. Relations that opened up the doors for the construction of the residency program, whose maximum potency is in its possibility to expand encounters, create situations of coexistence, and the exchange of experiences.3

In January 2015, Argentine artist Claudia del Rio asked to immerse herself in the Colônia. We invited another artist, the carioca [T.N. moniker for someone from Rio de Janeiro] Aleta Valente, to develop her project at the same period. With very distinct trajectories of life and artistic production, each lived this experience in a heterogeneous way and sought unique ways of engaging with the echoes of the asylum. Also in 2015, we received the Bahian artist Willyams Martins who spent a week in residence developing his work, which was a kind of “skin” of the Colônia revealed through a technique of tracing and transfer of the asylum walls in various locations that were featured as part of the exhibition Um canto dois sertões: Bispo do Rosário e os 90 anos da Colônia Juliano Moreira [A Corner of Two Sertões: Bispo do Rosário and 90 years of the Colônia Juliano Moreira] curated by Marcelo Campos. Via his art making process as he cut out the walls of the old Colônia, Martins discovered original drawings and writings by Bispo that had been covered by many layers of paint on the walls of the cell where he had lived. We were astonished, firstly that the drawings had been so disregarded to have been painted over and, secondly, that they were recovered fully in tact.

Fernanda Magalhães with Ana Lúcia. Grassa Crua, performance on the occasion of her residency in conjunction with the exhibition Das virgens em cardumes e a cor das auras [On Virgin Shoals and the Color of Auras] 2016. Photo: Wilton Montenegro.

In 2016, residency proposals gained momentum. In partnership with the Museu de Arte do Rio de Janeiro (Museum of Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAR), three residences were held as part of the exhibition Lugares do delírio, curated by Tania Rivera. The artists Solon Ribeiro, Gustavo Speridião and Lívia Flores produced works in collaboration with the users of the Polo Experimental. That same year, new artistic residences had also been proposed for the exhibition Das virgens em cardumes e a cor das auras [On Virgin Shoals and the Color of Auras], held at mBrac and curated by Daniela Labra, exploring Bispo’s work via its performative aspect alongside several contemporary artists working with performance. Fernanda Magalhães developed her proposal together with long-term women inmates, inside the pavilions that still preserve their characteristics, remnants of the old asylum. Through touch, dance, music, use of objects, and playing with photographs a connection established. Viewed as equals, without a stereotyped medical aesthetic, they freed themselves, even if only for a moment, of subjective mortifications and were able to interact with new stimuli and thus point toward new clinical approaches, ones that need not be limited to the decree of the word – a legacy of psychoanalytic treatments. Throughout the exhibition period the result of these actions were surprising and deeply meaningful, especially celebrated with the magic moments of azul azul azul e azul (blue blue blue and blue), the series of performance pieces by the artist Eleonora Fabião.4

Rafael Barros, Projeto Ocupação [Occupy Project] Casa B, 2016. Photo: Silvia Lage.

Fabiana Vinagre. Projeto Ocupação Casa B, 2016. Photo: Silvia Lage.

Intervention Annaline Curado. Projeto Ocupação Casa B, 2016. Photo: Silvia Lage.

The experience of these practices, their results for the artists, and the impact of their actions that we learned from participants led us to think about the need to structure an on-going residency program for the museum. Thus began the formulation of the Casa B Residency Program. From this initiative emerged, supported by a grant by from the Brazilian National Art Foundation (FUNARTE) in 2016, the first call for proposals for the project of Ocupação Casa B [Occupy Casa B], where the artists Annaline Curado, Fabiana Vinagre, Rafael Barros, Marcelo Correa and Paulo Meira were selected, each from a different region of Brazil – North, Northeast, Central West, Southeast and South of the country, that occurred in October 2016.

Fig 6. Gustavo Sampaio, Jacqueline Gimenes and François Ande. Residência BWV988: 30 Possibilidades de Transgressão [Residency BWV988: 30 Possibilities of Transgression] Experiência B, 2017 Photo: João Gilberto.

Fig 7. Rick Rodrigues, Fábio Carvalho and Rodrigo Mogiz. Residência Almofadinhas [Little Cushion Residency], Experiência B, 2018. Photo: Karoline Ruthes

In 2017 the Casa B Residency Program inaugurated a new phase, coordinated by curator Ricardo Resende and education manager Diana Kolker, expanding its activities to embrace research and poetic practices whether artistic, educational or curatorial that foster: a relationship with the community; contact with the collection of Arthur Bispo do Rosário; an immersive experience in the locale; and participation in the programs developed by the museum.5 In this sense, the role of the artistic residency program as a platform for artistic training stands out, beyond academic and traditional spaces. This creates a context of intensive training or rather forming, but one that has neither a beginning nor an end. We learned from the experience of Daniel Murgel that the walls that build the residency must be made from this earth, from this ground. We hope that in transforming this ground into art we will contribute to the ruins of the asylum and its colonial past. The contingencies and singularities that constitute the territory of which the museum is part carry the potency to produce new institutions, concepts, curatorial policies, pedagogical and artistic practices that materialize through reciprocal affective movements: the museum as a tool of social transformation, but also affected and transformed by the society and the territory of which it is a part. In this sense, we ask ourselves how a museum of contemporary art, functioning in a former asylum, can be an area of freedom, creation, contact, affection, potency, intimacy, and care? A potent space for the creation of care practices that surmount (or surpass) biomedical treatments and how can such an encounter affect the fields and practices of the arts? How can a museum become home?




Diana Kolker
Diana is education manager of the Bispo do Rosário Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2018 she received her masters in postgraduate studies of contemporary arts from the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF). She also has an undergraduate degree in history from PUCRS and a specialization in art pedagogy from the Universidade Federal de Rio Grande de Sul. She is a member and co-founder of Collective E, and her work focuses on transdisciplinary and collaborative projects that blur the boundaries between art, education, history, philosophy, and health, etc. She has conceived and coordinated several courses and programs aimed at training teachers, mediators and artists in collaboration with institutions such as the Mercosul Biennial, MAC Niterói, Instituto MESA, Casa Daros, Iberê Camargo Foundation, the Rio Arts Museum Great Southern. She co-coordinated the project Brazilian Indigenous Centuries Education Action, awarded by the Federal Senate Commission on Human Rights and Participatory Legislation.

Raquel Fernandes
Raquel is director of the Bispo do Rosário Museum of Contemporary Art. She holds a degree in cinema from the Estácio de Sá University (2007) and a PhD from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1991). She has an MBA in Museum Management from Cândido Mendes University (2016) and specialization in psychoanalysis, from Universidade Santa Úrsula (2000).

1 Frederico Morais, “Contra a arte afluente: o corpo é o motor da “obra”” in: Ricardo Basbaum ed. Arte contemporânea brasileira: texturas, dicções, ficções, estratégias (Rio de Janeiro: Rios Ambiciosos, 2001) 69-70.

2 Guilherme Vergara, “Dilemas éticos do lugar da arte contemporânea. Acontecimentos solidários de múltiplas vozes,” in: Visualidades (Goiânia v 11, n.1, jan-jun 2013): 59-81, 67.

3 In April 2018, we opened the exhibition As paredes de minha casa | Experiência B [The Walls of My House/ The Experience of Casa B] presenting the work and images of Daniel Murgel’s residency.

4 [Editor’s note E.N.: This publication includes essays and/or vídeos by several of these artists: Daniel Murgel, Lívia Flores, Fernanda Magalhães and Eleonora Fabião:]

5 In 2018 residencies featured: pianist and art director Gustavo Sampaio, ballerina Jacqueline Gimenes and the visual artist François Ande, who developed the Project Residência BWV988: 30 Possibilidades de Transgressão. In his residency the dancer Marcio Cunha developed a dance piece inspired in Arthur Bispo do Rosário’s work and life. The researcher Davi Lopes researched the collection of mBrac focusing on the standard “Eu preciso dessas palavras escrita” (I need these words written). In April 2018 the artists Rick Rodrigues, Fábio Carvalho and Rodrigo Mogiz developed embroidery workshops for the Oficina B de Bordado e Costura [Workshop B of Embroidery and Sewing] of the Escola Livre de Artes. A special standard produced in the workshop was included in the exhibition Almofadinhas | Experiência B [Little Cushions / Experiênca B] curated by Diana Kolker and Ricardo Resende that featured works by the artists in dialogue with Bispo’s work, some created during the residency. An immersive experience of “forming” that simultaneously engaged research and artistic, educational and curatorial practices in a zone of convergence between art and health.