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  • Writer's pictureAlysson Camargo

Brazil: The debate about the narratives on Brazilian identity in the art of Talles Lopes

The artist Talles Lopes created the project “Brazilian Building: modern and old architecture” by appropriating the name “Brazil Builds”. It refers to the book and the exhibition dedicated to Brazilian modern architecture that was staged at the Museum of Modern Art at New York (MoMA) in 1943.

This work is a result of a long research about the ways the iconic form of the Alvorada Palace pillars (a project of Oscar Niemeyer in Brasília, 1958), was reused in various states of Brazil.

The narratives about the possible Brazilian identities are entrenched in symbols and discourses. The construction of Brasília itself is an example of how refined can be the construction of a historical event, in which some aspects are emphasized while others are made invisible.

The works of Talles Lopes remind me of the exhibition “Repossession: narratives of the black presence in the history of the Federal District” that I visited in 2019. What caught my attention the most in this exhibition was the ways that narratives erased or denied in the past, now claim a presence in public memory thanks to community-engaged scholars.

Talles Lopes broadens the panorama permitting us to reflect on Brazilian identity, proceeding on a fragmentation, decentralization, and exhaustion of the main national narratives. In this respect, the monumentality of the Alvorada Palace pillar, a symbol of the federal capital’s architectural project, is deconstructed and replicated in houses in the interior of Brazil.

I also think about the relation between the incorporation of these architectural symbols in small Brazilian cities and the devaluation of regional symbols. There is a necessity to use critical regionalism, that will permit us to access modern technology, but without losing our regional origins.

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