Israeli artist Yael Bartana presents a new work as part of the História(s) project, a series of commissioned works that proposes a reflection on the history of Casa do Povo and its public dimensions.
Yael Bartana visited Casa do Povo several times during her recent trips to Brazil. She found echoes of her work in the institution, which oscillates between a fierce critique of modernism and its utopias that announced unrealized futures, in the name of which, however, the present is constantly destroyed. In her recent work using film, performance and other devices, Yael Bartana created new rituals, founded political movements, invented extra-official national narratives, and drew mythical pasts, suggesting that imagination is too serious to be left to politicians.
Assim elas comemoram a vitória [And so they celebrate victory] (2017) is a neon sign that occupies Casa do Povo’s entrance hall. The phrase, taken from the artist’s research in the institution’s archive, refers to a 1946 pamphlet announcing its creation in the Bom Retiro neighborhood and inviting the newly arrived Jewish community to contribute. The text, signed by one of its founders Bernardo Seibel, receives the title “So they celebrated their victory” , signaling Casa do Povo’s role as a monument to victory against Nazi-fascism, built as an homage to Jews murdered in the extermination camps.
In her work, Yael Bartana subtly modifies the phrase in two ways. First, it is brought into the present tense as a way to question the place of contemporary utopias and political tensions, such as the most authoritarian and xenophobic political currents that have emerged in various parts of the world. Through this, the work redefines the idea of the Casa do Povo as place of memory and resistance that proposes, from its foundation to the present, to invent and imagine possible futures.
The portuguese pronoun “eles” is also transformed into its female version (“elas”), an operation that isn’t possible in English, given the gender-neutral qualities of “they” as singular pronoun. This is in direct dialogue with some of the artist’s other works. In her most recent project in particular, What If Women Ruled the World? (Still in process), Yael Bartana proposes an alternative reality with the establishment of a matriarchal society. In the context of the work for Casa do Povo, the artist constructs a new narrative, imagined as a possibility, for the history of the institution.
The work is permanent and can be seen both by visitors and by those who are passing through Três Rios street. A publication, co-edited with Edições Aurora, accompanies the project and is for sale at Casa do Povo and available for download here.