Urgent Museum Notice

Virgin Territory: Women, Gender, and History in Contemporary Brazilian Art

A light-skinned, left hand facing palm-out against a mottled, green-gray wall. A horizontal red line is drawn across the middle of the composition and the middle of the hand. On top of the red line on the right, is the word ‘EQUADOR’ written in small, black, capital letters.
Oct 18, 2001, to Jan 06, 2002

NMWA presents Virgin Territory: Women, Gender, and History in Contemporary Brazilian Art, on view from October 18, 2001, to January 6, 2002, to offer a range of current artistic perspectives on the link between identity and colonialism in Brazil today.

The exhibition comprises more than 70 works by 25 of Brazil’s best-known and emerging artists, representing several generations that have received increasing international attention since the mid-1980s. This politically and culturally charged art offers a rich series of metaphors, allegories, and commentaries that challenge, reposition, or rewrite the traditionally accepted narratives of Brazil’s history, social order, and sense of place.

The artworks are expressions of “Otherness”: alternative views to those proposed by the intertwined legacies of patriarchal culture and European imperialism. The tension that exists between these alternatives and ingrained tradition is embodied in the exhibition’s title: between virgin, which is generally seen as female, untouched, and pure, and territory, which denotes male possession and domination. The artists in the exhibition renegotiate these issues of power and representation in order to establish a new sense of being in the world.

The exhibition follows four interconnected lines of thought. The first examines Brazil as a new world, a beautiful and exotic land to be conquered and colonized. The second focuses on mapping as a means of claiming territory. The third explores a woman’s place within a new social order primarily identified with male machismo. The fourth looks at the mixing of cultures and races in Brazilian history and contemporary life known as mestiço. Like the four directions of a compass, these ideas provide the exhibition’s bearings.

Installation view of an exhibition space. On a white wall, the text reads "Virgin Territory". Underneath the text, there are two objects placed on a pedestal.

Installation view of Virgin Territory: Women, Gender, and History in Contemporary Brazilian Art