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Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent!

September 15, 2011 to December 10, 2011


Curated by Claudia Calirman and Gabriela Rangel

Americas Society was proud to present Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent!, the first solo exhibition in the United States of Brazilian artist Antonio Manuel (b.1947, Portugal). Curated by Claudia Calirman and Gabriela Rangel, the show focused on Antonio Manuel’s preeminent role in the development of the groundbreaking neo-avant-garde movement that emerged in Rio de Janeiro during the 1960s. During the most repressive years of the Brazilian military dictatorship (1968-1974) Antonio Manuel’s artworks and actions instigated and were many times at the center of controversial debates concerning institutional censorship. While some of his closest friends associated with Tropicalismo and the intellectual milieu of Rio de Janeiro were forced into exile during the military regime, Antonio Manuel managed to remain in Brazil. Throughout this time he created a politically potent and visually striking corpus of experimental work that blended Neoconcrete, Pop, and Conceptual art.

Purchase the catalogue from this exhibition.

The title of the exhibition draws from Antonio Manuel’s first solo show in 1966 at Goeldi Gallery in Rio de Janeiro. There he exhibited a number of drawings made on newspaper pages, which according to the art critic Ronaldo Brito, “constituted a statement of intentions: ‘I don’t want to represent, I want to Act.’” Antonio Manuel is emblematic of an artist who actively infiltrated an oppressive system that was driven to keep “subversive” work dormant. Stretching the limits of traditional media, he pioneered Body art and multidisciplinary artistic practices in tandem with participatory preoccupations advanced by Brazilian artists and critics after a decade of debate between Concrete and Neoconcrete movements.


Read press about and reviews of Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent!

Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent! gathered drawings, films, installations, and sculptures, as well as documentation on the artist’s radical performances. Well-known in Europe and Latin America for his appropriation of images from the mass media, the exhibition presented a condensed selection of works in which he developed a distinctive visual idiom through the use of the news-printing process. The variety of artworks featured in the exhibition was a testament to the artist’s position as one of Brazil’s most prominent artists.

As part of Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent! Americas Society and Associação para o Patronato Contemporâneo (APC) published a fully illustrated catalogue featuring essays by Beverly Adams, Michael Asbury, Claudia Calirman, Antonio Manuel, Gabriela Rangel, and Judith Rodenbeck. In conjunction with the exhibition Americas Society also partnered with Columbia University to present The Politics of Camouflage in Artistic Practices from the 1970s, a symposium exploring the experimental artistic drive that emerged during political repression. Purchase the catalogue from this exhibition.

The exhibition Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent! as well as its catalogue and public programs are made possible by the generous support of FullComex Trading, Petrobras, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil and the Consulate General of Brazil in New York, Credit Suisse, Itaú BBA, the Tinker Foundation, Andrea and José Olympio Pereira, and in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In-kind support is provided by Galeria Nara Roesler, Associação para o Patronato Contemporâneo (APC), and Arte al Día.

Americas Society’s Visual Arts Program is supported by Sharon Schultz Simpson and in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.