We are Many: Experiments in Collectivity

10 August–28 October 2019

Exhibition Overview

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Pinacoteca de São Paulo, the museum of São Paulo State Secretariat for Culture and Creative Economy presents, from August 10th to October 28th, 2019, the group exhibition We are Many: Experiments in Collectivity, which investigates artistic practice as a collective exercise. Curated by Amanda Arantes, Fernanda Pitta and Jochen Volz, the show presents artistic experiences designed as direct or indirect dialogues with Joseph Beuys’ production, one of the most important and active artists of the second half of the twentieth century. With him, seven other national and international artists and collectives will participate, such as Hélio Oiticica, Maurício Ianês, Mônica Nador and Jamac, Coletivo Legítima Defesa, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Tania Bruguera and Vivian Caccuri.

Joseph Beuys (born 1921 Krefeld, Germany–died 1986, Düsseldorf, Germany), coined the expression “social sculpture”, as a concept to defend the understanding of every human activity as an artistic practice capable of structuring and transforming its own environment. The social sculptor is the one who, using language, thoughts, actions and objects, creates new structures in society. For him, society is the raw material of his work, just as the stone, wood or clay would be for the sculptor. Going deeper into this theme, the exhibition brings together a group of artists whose research has been focused on the creation of spaces that foster the imagination of new forms of sociability and ways of life, as Beuys formulated.

As the centerpiece of the exhibition, the curatorship presents a set of Beuys' works – including videos, drawings and collages – notably the Honigpumpe am Arbeitsplatz installation [Honeypump at the workplace] (1974-1977), brought from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, which was presented at documenta 6, in Kassel, Germany, in 1977. During that exhibition, the artist installed tubes running into the corridors and around the staircase of the Fridericianum (main building of the event), through which two tons of honey were flowing pumped by a motor. Using honey as a symbol of the product of collective work and its circulating state as a reference to the blood flow of the human organism and society, the work served as a meeting place for the activities of the Free International University, an alternative place of research and cooperation founded by the artist in 1973. The work is considered today to be one of the most outstanding pieces from the German artist, which anticipated discussions on creativity, economy and democracy.

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