The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA Miami) presents the first solo US museum exhibition for Paulo Nazareth (b. 1977). Melee spans Nazareth’s work across mediums, including monumental and ephemeral sculpture, photography, video, and installations. Drawing on his Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous heritages, Nazareth brings the histories of marginalized groups into focus in an exhibition that is relevant to both the global and local Brazilian diaspora, while speaking to broad political conversations on issues of injustice and oppression.
Organized by Alex Gartenfeld, Artistic Director, and Gean Moreno, Curator of Programs, Melee highlights overlooked historical figures of Latin America and explores ways to expand the conversation on cultural production. The exhibition features several new works, including a newly-commissioned series made specifically for the exhibition.
The first series presents 49 bronze medals depicting marginalized figures in Latin America, including Indigenous leaders and guerilla fighters. Displayed atop 50 pedestals, with one left empty to signify a continuing history yet to be written, the medals unearth a new perspective on Latin America. The second series features 13 flags of utopian countries who maintained social and political arrangements that managed to avoid the rigid polarizations of the Cold War. Alongside these two new bodies of work, Nazareth will show eleven newly-created portraits of Brazil’s embattled ex-president Lula—bringing focus to the recent Right turn in Brazilian politics.
In addition to these monumental commissions, Melee features Nazareth’s recent work in painting, sculpture, photography, and video that examine areas in culture across the Americas where prejudices have emerged, from the consumer realm to the swimming pool. Works on view include four new additions to Nazareth’s existing Genocide Products series. The new works are the largest and most ambitious in this series to date.
Visitors also encounter recent works exploring the long history of segregation in the Americas, particularly in relation to access to public institutions and resources. The drawings and photographs that comprise Blacks in Pools demonstrate how discriminatory practices have emerged around public swimming pools and other bodies of water.
Additionally, the artist presents an installation that reprises his project The Red Inside (2018), which was first generated for Prospect New Orleans. Beginning in Louisiana and traveling all the way to Canada, the project involved the artist following the route of the Underground Railroad. Alongside this voyage, Nazareth cast concrete watermelons—sacred fruits in a number of African contexts—using water drawn from the Mississippi River as his material.
PAULO NAZARETH: MELEE
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA Miami), 61 NE 41st Street, Miami, FL
May 16 – Oct 6, 2019