Aparelho – A Conversation with Tales Frey
After the exhibition Adorno Político (2018), the exhibition room of Maus Hábitos (Porto), organized by the Associação Cultural Saco Azul, was again appropriated by curator Tales Frey and a new group of Brazilian artists. This time, the space is converted into a heterogeneous and bold Aparelho, where works, objects, ideas and convictions are shown. Like the aparelhos, places established in Brazil during the military dictatorship of 1964/1985, artistic activist practices and expressions are combined with socio-political ideologies that disagree with the current government.
Brazil’s current authoritarian and neo-fascist regime has had strong global repercussions, making it important to develop opportunities for artistic expression that go beyond geographical boundaries. The current reality is shocking and this is also the effect caused by most of the images in the exhibition, with discourses of “denunciation and chronicle”, according to the words of Sama, one of the eighteen invited artists.
Aparelho runs until December 30 and was inaugurated on November 14 with a dancing performance by the queer performer Pêdra Costa. As the artist Paulo Aureliano da Mata states in his play, “If I cannot dance, this is not my revolution”.
Constança Babo – Tales Frey, congratulations on this exhibition. Can you tell us about the development of your current project, particularly the transition between the two exhibitions and the principle adopted in the choice of artists?
Tales Frey – Thank you for your compliment, Constança. I’m very pleased when I get such a positive compliment about something done with the utmost integrity. There is a very direct relationship between the exhibition Adorno Político and Aparelho. In the first, I opted for artists who, through their exteriorities, spoke about how their existences, far from the norm, could be seen as threats to deeply conservative contexts. In other words, I gathered bodies that positioned themselves politically through body ornaments or reflections on these same ornaments. From November 2018 to the present day, much has happened in Brazil. Therefore, I decided to gather artists/activists who are currently renegades and persecuted, who present themselves in a conscious and direct way against this instituted brutality.
CB – With both exhibitions having a political nature, the current emphasizes this aspect even more. Do you agree? Did your activist side become more pronounced with the worsening of the Brazilian socio-political context in the last year?
TF – Absolutely. I decided to adopt a much more direct discourse. Brazil has become a kind of neocolony, where there is a cross between fascism and neoliberalism, where drug trafficking is hand in hand with neopentecostalism. The people in power, not by coincidence, are in favour of an unbalanced right to possess weapons and, at the same time, they are against culture and education as basic needs. They spread hatred against Indians, blacks, LGBTQIA+, women etc.
Obviously, there are innocent people who adhere to this sort of hate speech, propagated through strategic fake news, promoted by the elite that currently governs Brazil. Many people adhere to this position because of pure blind faith and/or ignorance, but there are malicious opportunists like Roberto Alvim who, this year, focused all his abject discourse on the generation that questions patriarchy, the cisheteronorm, colonialism, etc. Alvim publicly condemned actress Fernanda Montenegro for having affirmed the acceptance of various existences. How can someone be defended by a portion of the population when that person stands against the various kinds of existence or against those who defend them? Aparelho is a reflection of the year 2019, which was a year of major hinderances in Brazil and in some Latin American countries.
CB – Regarding the implementation of this project in Portugal, I ask you: would it be feasible to do it in Brazil, or is there a repression that does not allow you to install a space with this creative and expressive freedom?
TF – That question alone is already an indication that we are going through a dark period. But I don’t think this exhibition would take place in renowned spaces in Brazilian cities, such as Maus Hábitos in Porto. With public or private funding, I’m sure that this exhibition would not happen easily in Brazil.
CB – Do you think that occasions like these are opportunities to properly convey the issues lived in Brazil, without the mediation of the mass media?
TF – Of course. I don’t dismiss any opportunity. Just as I have been didactic on a daily basis when raising awareness to the nefarious project that has increased strength, I try to expose everything without boundaries, when I have at my disposal some vehicle of information.
CB – Last question: do you foresee or intend to materialize a third contiguous exposure to this project?
TF – Aparelho and Adorno Político responded to an invitation for 2018/2019. Unfortunately, I have no activity planned for 2020 in this space. But, by the end of 2021, I will be curating a solo exhibition of the Portuguese-Brazilian artist Suzana Queiroga, who produces beautiful works that are totally devoted to environmental issues. The approach will again be political. After all, taking into account the world around us, we have no way of ignoring everything. We must have a position. And art is an important tool for disseminating our ideas.