Ana Maria Tavares: Deviating Utopias Opens October 11, 2013 in Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery

NASHVILLE, TENN. (August 15, 2013)—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 Tavares’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.

Other themes in Tavares’s work include contemporary consumerism and surveillance technology, as demonstrated in Inventory Control, a wall-mounted sculpture of twelve mirrors. Scala comments on the piece:

“Inventory Control alludes to the surveillance occurring in many sites of contemporary existence. Our acceptance of this in the marketplace and online may lull us into a similar acceptance of governmental control of its ‘human inventory,’ as happened during Brazil’s dictatorship (which ended in 1985) and is again in the news in terms of our own current National Security Administration imbroglio.”

By focusing on transitional spaces like airports, malls, and other public areas, Tavares evokes sensations of floating and meditating. The centerpiece of the exhibition is an immersive, four-screen video projection titled Airshaft (to Piranesi). “The viewer is surrounded by a virtual space filled with architectural fragments that remain constantly morphing, sinking, and shifting, giving the viewer a sensation of being a bodiless consciousness floating in an endlessly unstable world,” explains Mr. Scala.

Of note is a new sonic component to Airshaft titled Niterói, water that hides, created by Nashville composer Brian Siskind specifically for the Frist Center installation. In this haunting accompaniment, Siskind interprets the rich discordance of the urban experience in Brazil and other urban centers. He describes the sound piece as “a collage of mid-century/post war orchestral vinyl recontextualized into a dark, deep and teeming sound environment.”

About Ana Maria Tavares
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 Foundation, NY.

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 Artist-in-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.

Exhibition Credit
This exhibition was organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

Exhibition Sponsor
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Related Public Programs

Thursday, October 10
Community Preview: 30 Americans and Ana Maria Tavares: Deviating Utopias
Noon–9 p.m.

Frist Center for the Visual Arts
RSVP by Monday, September 30, 2013, by calling 615.744.3987 or ”

Celebrate the opening of two new exhibitions during our Community Preview. This event is free and open to the public. Discounted parking is available in the Frist Center lots with validated ticket. Space is limited. Join us!

Friday, October 11
Artist’s Perspective: Ana Maria Tavares: Deviating Utopias Presented by Ana Maria Tavares
12:00 p.m.

Frist Center Auditorium
Gallery admission required; members free
Seating is first come, first seated

Ana Maria Tavares explores the psychological spaces between the idealism of Modernist and contemporary architecture and the alienating conditions of life in urban environments around the world. Her work often deconstructs the architecture of the Brazilian Marxist Oscar Niemeyer, whose buildings were intended to shape the perception of post-World War II Brazil as a nation of progress and internationalism. Using digital technology and materials such as steel, glass, and mirrors, Tavares creates elaborate sculptures and video linking Niemeyer’s vision to a contemporary world of urban chaos, government surveillance, and social entropy. See Tavares’s work in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery through January 12, 2014.

Saturday, October 12
Educator Workshop: Exploring the Work of Ana Maria Tavares
9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

Frist Center Studios
$20 per person for Frist Center members/$25 per person for non-members. Cost includes all materials, teacher resources, color reproductions, gallery admission, parking validation in Frist Center lots, and lunch.

Advanced registration is required. Download the teacher workshop registration form at Registration and payment are due before Friday, September 20.
This October workshop engages participants in an artistic exploration of the work of Brazilian artist Ana Maria Tavares. Educators have the opportunity to connect directly with Tavares and learn about her creative process by touring the exhibition, Ana Maria Tavares: Deviating Utopias, with the artist. Participants can also explore the cultural and historical contexts of each work.

Friday, October 18
Film: Brazil
7:00 p.m.

Frist Center Auditorium
Gallery admission required; members free
Seating is first come, first seated

Brazil tells the story of Sam Lowry, a low-level government employee living in a dystopian world in which poorly maintained machines are vital to existence. In order to escape the monotony of his mind-numbing job, Sam constantly daydreams of a mysterious, beautiful woman. When one of the machines malfunctions, Sam is assigned to rectify the mistake, a task that puts him face-to-face with his mystery woman, Jill Layton. We watch as Sam falls for Jill and in turn, becomes an enemy of the state. Stars Jonathan Price, Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, and Ian Holm. Written and directed by Terry Gilliam (also written by Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown), 1985. 143 minutes. DVD. Rated R.

Ana Maria Tavares’s video and sculpture installations explore the contradictions between utopian architectural forms and totalitarianism, a theme that is carried to its nightmarish conclusion in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

Friday, October 25*
ARTini: Ana Maria Tavares: Deviating Utopias
12:00 p.m.

Meet at exhibition entrance
Gallery admission required; members free

Are you curious about art? Do you want to learn more about the content and concepts behind an artist’s work? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then the ARTini program is for you! ARTinis are designed for everyone—from the novice to the connoisseur—and include informal and insightful conversations that offer a deeper understanding of one or two works of art in an exhibition.

Join Mark Scala, chief curator at the Frist Center, as he considers some of the works by Brazilian artist Ana Maria Tavares featured in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery.

*This event will be repeated on Tuesday, October 29 at noon.


Buddy Kite: 615.744.3351, ”

Ellen Jones Pryor: 615.244.1311, ”

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