In the last three decades, contemporary artists have increasingly appropriated the capital city of Brasília in their works. Built between 1956-1974 and officially inaugurated in 1960, Brasília is known as both a daring experiment in modernist architecture and urban planning and a materialization of the failure of these fields in the middle of the twentieth century. Furthermore, the city has stood as exemplary of Brazil’s 1950s impulse to modernize and strive to become the country of the future—the epitome of Brazilian nationalist rhetoric. All the while, Brasília has been extricated from the conditions of possibility that have given rise to it, especially Brazil’s legacies of colonialism, extractivism, and exploitation of land and underrepresented communities. In this dissertation, I examine artworks produced between 2009 and 2021 by the Brazilian artists Bruno Faria, Clara Ianni, Clarissa Tossin, Laercio Redondo, Lais Myrrha, Lucas Dupin, Matheus Rocha Pitta, and Talles Lopes that engage the visual and material culture of Brasília. These works showcase Brasília as the embodiment of a dichotomy. On the one hand, its image still speaks to the dreamscape of Brazilian futurity and has been instrumentalized for the circulation of a series of affective economies of hope, hate, fear, disgust, and awe used to strengthen centuries-old structures of power. On the other hand, its materiality—imprinted upon by the Brazilian backlands and its peoples—deeply challenges the bracketing, erasure, silencing, and extrication of violence from Brazil’s “unfinished” project of modernity.
Keywords: Contemporary Art, Brasília, Brazil, Affect, Backlands, Red Earth, Remediations, Futurity
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Heeren, Alice, "The Art of the Present in the Country of the Future: Remediations of Brasília in Contemporary Art" (2022). Art History Theses and Dissertations. 16.
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