Hï¿½lio Oiticica and Neville D'Almeida Block-Experiments in Cosmococa -- Program in Progress
Hélio Oiticica (1937--1980) occupies a central position in the Latin Americanavant-garde of the postwar era. Associated with the Rio de Janeiro-based neo-concretist movement atthe beginning of his career, Oiticica moved from object production to the More...
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Hélio Oiticica (1937--1980) occupies a central position in the Latin Americanavant-garde of the postwar era. Associated with the Rio de Janeiro-based neo-concretist movement atthe beginning of his career, Oiticica moved from object production to the creation of chromaticallyopulent and sensually engulfing large-scale installations or wearable garments. Building on the ideafor a film by Brazilian underground filmmaker Neville D'Almeida, Oiticica developed the concept forBlock-Experiments in Cosmococa -- Program in Progress (1973--1974) as an "open program": aseries of nine proposals for environments, each consisting of slide projections, soundtracks,leisure facilities, drawings (with cocaine used as pigment), and instructions for visitors. It isthe epitome of what the artist called his "quasi-cinema" work -- his most controversialproduction, and perhaps his most direct effort to merge art and life. Presented publicly for thefirst time in 1992, these works have been included in major international exhibitions in LosAngeles, Chicago, London, and New York.Drawing on unpublished primary sources,letters, and writings by Oiticica himself, this illustrated examination of Oiticica's work considersthe vast catalog of theoretical references the artist's work relies on, from anticolonialmaterialism to French phenomenology and postmodern media theory to the work of Jean-Luc Godard, AndyWarhol, and Brazilian avant-garde filmmakers. It discusses Oiticica's work in relation to thediaspora of Brazilian intellectuals during the military dictatorship, the politics of mediacirculation, the commercialization of New York's queer underground, the explicit use of cocaine asmeans of production, and possible future reappraisals of Oiticica's work.
Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz is a writer, translator, and cultural critic specializing in LatinAmerican studies and materialist aesthetics.