The São Paulo neo-avant-garde art, collaboration, and print media, 1970–1985




Binnie, Maria Teresa Rodriguez

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This study analyzes artists’ dynamic experimentation with new printing technologies of mass media in São Paulo between 1970 and the early 1980s. This was a charged period in Brazil, marked by the rule of a military dictatorship and by a sudden economic growth that led to unprecedented commercial access to processes such as photocopy and offset printing, particularly in the financial hub of São Paulo. There, a singular artistic scene mined the formal and conceptual possibilities of mass print communication to generate works in multiples, to be handled as well as circulated inside and beyond gallery spaces. By analyzing the materiality of this corpus of works, this project unfolds the productive discrepancy they pose within narratives of Brazilian art under the dictatorship and of the international neo-avant-garde. As opposed to mail art or to canonical Conceptual art, these works did not act as mere traces of exchange or as text-based proposals. Rather, they centered on the visuality afforded by mass print media, on engaging the social and economic functions infusing these unconventional artistic supports, and on eliciting phenomenological encounters with the spectator. At a time when a growing distrust of technology and mass communication marked artistic discourse in Brazil and internationally, the São Paulo neo-avant-garde sought to democratize the production and reception of art objects precisely by utilizing the tools of mass print media. It is their “incorrect” use of these technologies that fueled their works’ political subversion and artistic critique.



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