Sponsor Sponsored in part by Office of the Provost and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Francis P. Rohlen Visiting Artists Fund/College of Fine and Applied Arts; Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies; College of Fine and Applied Arts Creative Research Award; Fox Development Corporation; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; School of Art + Design Visitors Fund; Jerrold Ziff Distinguished Lecture on Modern Art Fund; and Krannert Art Museum
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 the idea for this exhibition 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 exhibition 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 action. These works speak to the complexity and heterogeneity of an art milieu that is both tied to the local and manifestly global in reach.