[Written as notes to accompany an installation in The Box, a video exhibition space at the Wexner Center for the Arts in February 2014, in conjunction with the exhibition Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil (curated by Jennifer Lange, Bill Horrigan, and Paulo Venancio Filho). A pdf of these notes is available here.]

Epilogue/Quarta-feira de cinzas (Cao Guimarães and Rivane Neuenschwander, 2006)

“Instead of letting go, just remember that ant” –“High Hopes” (written by Sammy Cahn)

Within Catholic traditions, Ash Wednesday (quarta-feira de cinzas in Portuguese) is a moveable fast that kicks off the Lenten period leading up to Easter Sunday. This period of self-denial is, of course, preceded by the celebration of carnival. Few countries are as renowned for their carnival rituals and festivities than Brazil.

Artists Cao Guimarães and Rivane Neuenschwander shift the focus of Ash Wednesday from the heavenly and human realms to a decidedly more ground-level perspective. The moveable fast becomes a moveable feast, if you know where to look. Quarta-feira de cinzas/Epilogue prowls the distinctive red clay soil of the state of Minas Gerais to observe ants as they encounter colorful confetti left over from the human revelries the night before. The use, meaning, and ownership of these objects shifts to the ants and new, mysterious pageantries form. Colorful parades take shape. Squabbles, turf wars, and old rivalries are enflamed. The ants are dwarfed by these vivid orbs but carry them up hillsides with the greatest of ease. It’s as if Sisyphus was part of a samba school. The video concludes with the ants taking their hauls down into the depths of their nest, as if they were cleaning up the aftermath of carnival and continuing the party in their realms. Guimarães and Neuenschwander enabled this microscopic spectacle by soaking the confetti in sugar, a surefire way to kickstart any ant party.

O Grivo, a pair of experimental musicians and sound artists, frequently score Cao Guimarães’s films and for Quarta-feira de cinzas they made one of their most delightful creations. The tiny scuttling soundtrack provides a insectile musique concrete, slowly drifting into syncopated rhythms that resemble ants scratching sambas on the covers of matchbooks.

Cao Guimarães and Rivane Neuenschwander have collaborated on several projects and each is a central figure in Belo Horizonte’s vibrant art scene. Guimarães is one of Brazil’s most adventurous and respected filmmakers and artists and his work features prominently in both the Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil exhibition and Cruzamentos: Contemporary Brazilian Documentary film series. Gambiarra photo mosaic and two elegantly minimal videos can be currently found in our galleries. Guimarães will visit the Wexner Center on March 27 to take part in the symposium on Brazilian art and film accompanying our Cruzamentos programs. On March 28, he will introduce a screening of his playful documentary Two-Way Street and a program of his acclaimed short films. Rivane Neuenschwander is among the most internationally recognized Brazilian artists working today. She was nominated for the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Prize in 2004 and A Day Like Any Other, her 2010 solo exhibition at the New Museum (which travelled to four other cities), remains one of the most notable museum exhibitions of a solo Brazilian artist in recent years.

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Cao Gumarães, Rivane Neuenschwander
Quinza-feira de cinzas/Epilogue, 2006
6 mins, video

© The Ohio State University/Wexner Center for the Arts. Reproduced by permission.