Revista MESA Nº6
Focusing on the interfaces between art and contemporary socially engaged practices, the 6th issue of Revista MESA, “Hidden Lives,” explores the multiple meanings of the hidden in society. Throughout the quest to shed light on the issues that shape, inform, and threaten our existence is recurrent, as is a critical and (re)generative desire to question – what art can do in contemporary life? The issue comprises case studies, articles, interviews, dialogues, films, and photo essays that come together as a body of collective initiatives, counter narratives, and different poetic and political strategies. Art here is part of the struggles for: restorative justice, democracy, and social equality; recuperating memory and fighting repression; dealing with trauma; investigating hidden places and unraveling entangled silences; questioning school, religious, and psychiatric systems; generating other perspectives of what art can be, some not yet or beyond defining themselves as art; and inhabiting and transforming adversities as a catalyst for re-enchantment and imagining worlds otherwise.
As a platform for documentation, collaboration, and reflection, MESA functions as a magazine-as-commons and school, acting as a vital connective ground for learning and discussion and working with multiple organizations, collaborators, artists, researchers, institutions, universities, communities, and professors and students from diverse disciplines and backgrounds both in Brazil and internationally. These processes have been key to the singular cartography of the hidden that the issue aims to profile. Developed over the course of 2019-2021, inspired in part by the exhibition Guanabara Bay: Hidden Lives and Waters held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Niterói, in 2016, this 6th MESA issue moves from local initiatives in peripheral “hidden” territories of Rio de Janeiro’s outlying regions – the Bumba favela in Niterói to the suburban region of São Gonçalo – to a web of connections with hidden lives and creative and imaginative worlds in Vale de Jequitinhonha in Brazil’s center-east; from questions of faith and religion to the legacies of dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile; and in turn from collective actions in Pequena África [Little Africa] in the center of Rio de Janeiro to socially situated practices in distinct geographic and socio-cultural contexts and organizations in Ireland, Scotland, and Cyprus.