NASHVILLE, TN. — The exhibition Ana Maria Tavares: Deviating Utopias will be on view at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts from Oct. 11, 2013 through Jan. 12, 2014 in the Gordon CAP Gallery. Reflecting her ambivalent feelings regarding Brazil‘s efforts to modernize during the post-World War II years, Tavares creates works that examine the
ambiguities and tensions associated with architecture as an instrument of social progress. Extending this historical narrative to the present, she creates works that inspire the audience to consider the psychological disorientation that often arises in today‘s public architecture and interior design.
Oscar Niemeyer, the utopian Marxist architect behind the creation of the modern capital city of Brasilia, looms large in Tavare’s works. Tavares notes that, in Brazil, modern architecture [such as Niemeyer's] has been responsible for projecting the country to the world as a modern nation‘ but we have never been able to completely overcome the paradoxes generated from that project in the tropics: How can a hybrid, mixed, savage, undomesticated nature be completely framed? In this thought lies the central tension of the exhibition: modernism‘s utopian promises of egalitarianism and connection to the world stage comes into conflict with the dystopian realities of isolation and estrangement in modern megalopolises such as São Paulo, where the artist lives and teaches.
Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala notes that works in the exhibition are created from—or depict—materials such as steel, glass and mirrors to deconstruct ideologies hidden within the design of contrived environments, in Brazil and elsewhere. The Eclipse series, for example, is inspired by Niemeyer‘s 1951 Oca building in Sao Paulo‘s Parque do Ibirapuera, a simple white dome that was intended to convey an optimistic vision of national progress. Tavares‘s views of the structure, digitally manipulated to show variations in reflectiveness and transparency, dissolve this declaration of modernist ideology into veil and shadow, more will-o‘-the-wisp than practical agent of social transformation.
Ana Maria Tavares was born in 1958 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She earned her Bachelor‘s degree in Fine Arts from the Armando Alvares Penteado Foundation in São Paulo (1982); a Master of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago (1986); and a Doctorate in Art, from the University of São Paulo (2000). In 2002, she received a fellowship from the Guggenheim
Tavares is currently a Professor of Art at the University of São Paulo. In 2005, she held the position of artist-lecturer at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam; and was the Ida Ely Rubin Artistin-Residence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006–2007.
Tavares‘s work has been included in major international biennials in São Paulo, Havana, Istanbul and Singapore. A partial list of museums in which her work has been exhibited includes the Akademie der Kunst, Berlin; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; The New Museum, New York; the Royal College of Art, London; the San Diego Museum of Art; the Shusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow; the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanasawa, Japan; and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco.