Critical Pedagogy

Traplev presents a set of works that focus on language experimentation aimed to the production of pedagogical elements that are also used for critical awareness, often materialized in the form of installations, instruments, objects and images. The artist departs his researches from the analysis of political and media discourses and from the confrontation of these narratives with historical facts and aesthetic provocations, to produce his works. In the Kinoscope platform, he presents some of these works, and gives an interview, delving deeper into his critical practice.

 

Political literacy, teaching pads  Traplev (video editing Amílcar Packer), vídeo-slide HD, 23 minutes 56 seconds, color, sound. 2018/2019

 

The video-slide is an unfolding of the research for the production of the contents of a series of works entitled pedagogical pillows, and presents a historical timeline of Brazil, starting from Anísio Teixeira's pedagogical program which approached plans for a wide national and democratic education and Paulo Freire's critical literacy, following Bell Hocks' and Grada Kilomba's decolonization concepts (art work commissioned by the exhibition “Art, Democracy and Utopia”, curated by Moacir dos Anjos at MAR Rio de Janeiro).

 

Weapon of criticism/guidance for practice Traplev (video editing Biarritzzz) vídeo-sampler HD, 31 minute 30 seconds, color, sound. 2019

This video-sampler (commissioned for the exhibition Meta-Archive, curated by Ana Pato at Sesc Belenzinho) arises from an image research carried out on the context of clandestine organizations in Brazil during the military dictatorship and its consequences on society. The video was designed to be shown on a flat TV in the vertical position, configuring a video installation.

Traplev talks with Kinoscope

Traplev, could you quickly describe the 3 projects that are on display in the platform?

They are are 3 works produced in chronological order from 2018 to 2020, and all of them use audiovisual media, two work as a kind of video-slide, with a sequence of images and subtitles + text and visual editing, and both are about the historical context of Brazilian.

 

The first one (a video-slide from the Pedagogical Pads 2018/2019 program) is a historical timeline of Brazil, starting from the educators Anísio Teixeira and Paulo Freire, highlighting historical moments for the country's social justice struggle since then. The second (video-sampler, 2019) is a research resulting from the first project/research, where I found a lot of (unpublished) material about the clandestine organizations from the 1960s/70s in Brazil which were opposing the business, civil and military Brazilian dictatorship of 1964-1985.

The third work started after these two other researches, and it unfolded in an intervention which I'm calling “after new deal” (based on the American liberal economic context after the second world war). It is a series of images from some of the pillar concepts related to the idea of Welfare State, Social Justice and Income Distribution. This series, which is in process, unfolds so far as animated GIFs (shown here), T-shirt prints to be used in a choreographic action in the exhibition space, and collective meetings for online discussions (which will be presented later this year in Curitiba), as well as other future developments with the images for an installation, which I'm now planning to produce.

 

How do your interests in the field of media and language relate to the materialization of your projects?

Despite working in a survival environment, with little production infrastructure (which means: not being able to technically tryout materials, or experiment with spatial assemblages of ideas), the research interest is concentrated in a very conceptual field. But this very challenge of materializing the projects is always an issue to be resolved and that instigates things to exist somehow.

Most of the time, the projects are elaborated in the field of semiotics, working on meanings, points of views, visual code indexes, and in this sense the operation ends up being very raw, two-dimensional, sign imagery, graphic stain, conceptual syntheses for discussion and provocation in the public sphere.

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In this context, what always moves me – from the mere exercise of criticism, be it political and/or ideological of the subjects – is to develop experimentations with language, imagination, the conceptual and reflexive relationship of things and environments. So codes, letters, numbers, spots, headlines, phrases, images, concepts, narratives, poetry, colors, all come together to re-invent and propose experiences in delay and sampler.

In the current sociocultural situation in Brazil, how do you see the possibilities and challenges for exercising an artistic practice that also presupposes critical vectors?

After 2016, I understood that the critical and pedagogical vector in language experimentation would have to be “radical” in what I was going to do, the study of history and political contexts would have to be the basis for confronting the cultural narratives of oppression in the 21st century.

We are witnessing barbarism with the same colonial sleepers from the centuries of European invasion of the continent, so thinking about this whole situation, being in the 21st century and living with all the urgent agendas of a country with a bankrupt society, is what instigates production and thinking beyond time. Registering the historical process for critical reflections and language to be punctuated in the next generations, despite all the psychological and economic difficulties, it is essential for me.

Your projects clearly show an interest in the fields of history, politics and culture. Could you share how your research process takes place? And how do they relate, as in the case of those presented now on the platform?

So, this vein in the field of criticism comes from the end of graduation in fine arts in the early 2000s, and then with the experience of almost 15 years with editorial and graphic projects for the receipt (2002-2016).

The idea of collaboration, of thinking about artistic practice outside the Southeast of Brazil, of questioning, of thinking about diffusion, circulation, content, criticism, reflection, created interests that converged into an action of creating a circuit and to insist on critical practice. There's a phrase by Ronaldo Brito that I identified a lot with and that's why I think it influences me in what I call the active principle of artistic practice: “pushing the limits of the circuit's permissiveness is one of the main tasks of contemporary art production.” (Ronaldo Brito, “circuit analysis” Malasartes Magazine, 1970).

Based on this premise, interests roam in these different fields, finding convergences in this experimental crossing of language with being in the world itself. Combining disparities through poetry, through the re-invention and appropriation of language, is to assume and accept the unfolding of these processes. In this group of three works in the audiovisual field, and using the slide technique with content editing + gifs, we were able to see the path of these possible readings in this period of urgencies. The moment we are living in is glaring, and in this sense I try to address and work on these issues that go through me.

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After New Deal [*]Traplev Animated GIFs (looping), 2020/2021 (in development)

 

This series of GIFs presented here in the interview section was an offshoot of a research developed by Traplev, showing some of the economic concepts related to post-war American politics (1945), in which the US implemented the concept of the Welfare State, linked to the theory of John Maynard Keynes (an economic policy known by the term “Keynesianism”). The project also proposes a discussion around the theme (in projects that are still unfolding), raising questions and references about the income distribution economy and s Welfare State , beyond the precepts of the current capitalism regimes.

I believe that one of the great challenges that arise in the exercise of a critical art practice – and even why not, also “engaged” – is how to deal with the contradictions between the market, institutions, sponsors, collectors, etc. In short, the contradictions that arise from games and power structures. Do you have a similar reading, and how do you try to address this in your practice?

 

When we work in the art circuit, we cannot ignore these agents, institutions, collectors, the market in general, but the artist's research is a personal demand, and production takes place independently of the market, it happens in the sense of what it is done for each one, including many times even as site-specific, bringing the critical points precisely into the institutional body.

In Brazil, even though I live a life of survival without greater luxuries (of course, each one has its greater and or lesser privileges), the research continues as it goes on, that is, if with more budget or less budget, or even no budget to think about, to produce and to dedicate to a project, things happen in their own time (in this sense and in my case, Sé Gallery has been a good partner to be able to produce new works and continue with research). Unfortunately, the time of production of works is not the same as the capitalist time, and this often creates difficulties for us, and even more for those who are not heirs or painters (laughs).

So there's no exact equation, it's a samba-jazz (more like Hermeto Pascoal's style), I don't stop thinking and experimenting with my language because of this or that, on the contrary, I just try to insert discussions by appropriating the experimental space in the public sphere that the field of visual arts makes available, whether in institutions, galleries and/or with collectors.

“Oh but it's an elitist, upper class, neoliberal and often even reactionary space, etc, etc“, well we all have options and knowledge of each area in which we operate, so people are somehow free to explore each context and not only be explored as the neoliberal hegemony points out today.

 

Another challenge I see lies in how to deal with what moves us, how to deal with and approach the issues that interest us, taking care not to exoticize, not domesticate, not colonize, not modify. Do you have a read, from your practice, on these concerns?

 

Yes!! This is a really important process, of course there can always be involuntary deviations, I'm not saying we're perfect, but taking care of these issues is essential. The decolonization process is not something that happens overnight, we were created in a usurping, oppressive, patriarchal, sexist, capitalist culture. That adds up, then practicing the decolonial exercise is really vital.

 

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And I believe that this is a rich cue for the field of visual arts, as the space is conducive to re-invention, to questioning. Appropriation needs to be re-contextualized from our point of view of privilege, which is to be in the 21st century. Recognizing the traumatic historical past of the last 5 centuries in Brazil is essential. In this sense, the phrase that Fernanda Grigolin proposed for one of the editorials of the publication The Border a few years ago is punctual: “recognizing one's own privileges is the first step to understand the inequalities and fight against them”.

 

Education is undoubtedly one of the consensuses on how we can change a society. You show a particular interest in the subject, not only for the work “Anti-Monumento a Anísio Teixeira” but also present in other projects. How do you approach this emancipatory and powerful dimension of education? An education of the senses too?

 

When the 2016 events took place in Brazil, with the coup – impeachment without a crime of responsibility, all the chips fell for me, it was a feeling of splinters, I would have to go and collect what was left (researching Brazilian history from the perspective of Anísio Teixeira and Paulo Freire), to be able to understand and work on this little by little and in a medium and long-term context, because things don't happen overnight, on the contrary! And this is also the point of decolonial discussions and practices, where you have to practice criticism and question the principles imposed to follow.

With that, I saw that I would have to assume the artistic process as a pedagogical endeavor, there would have to be a general decolonial re-literacy, we have no escape from that. We have a certain challenge as well a privilege of living here in the 21st century (of being able to look at historical events from a distance). The very history of language experimentation in the history of art, expanding also with cinema and other arts, shows us that all the tools for working on this resides precisely in language, through the senses as well in the subjectivity!

 

And in this sense, when I approached what Paulo Freire had done, starting with the Popular Culture Movement (MCP) under Miguel Arraes in Recife in the early 1960s, then with the experience of critical and humanized literacy for illiterate adults, and with the experience and implementation of the democratic education model by Anísio Teixeira (School Parque Salvador in the 1950s), and also the (utopia of) modern Brazilian architecture of the 1950s/60s, I realized that there would be the social revolution – of course, if it hadn't been hit by the military – but I speak in the sense of making tools available to the less fortunate to recognize themselves in this unjust war of class struggle.

 

In this sense, the drawing that was unpublished to the Brazilian public (which was removed from the Brazilian edition[1]) of the book Pedagogia do Oprimido, says a lot about this:

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Manuscript diagram by Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of the Oppressed (the manuscript), org. José Eustaquio Romão, Moacir Gadotti and Jason Ferreira Mafra. São Paulo: Ed. UNINOVE and the Ministry of Education of Brazil, 2018, p. 32

The video-slide is a direct unfolding of the pedagogical pillows (the project that triggered all this in 2016/17), and there I think it has all the principles, indexes and references to think about this traumatized historical process that we are being forced to face today in Brazil . So with that transformative force that I saw in Paulo Freire, in the MCP, with Bell Hocks readings as well, among other contemporary readings, I realized that was a key axis, and it continues to make a lot of sense today – and it started just a little over 50 years in the recent past.

 

And in Paulo Freire we cannot unravel the language of teaching pedagogy and the political act, he himself speaks of these relationships in the book The importance of the act of reading [2] from 1982, where he reaffirms that he sees “adult literacy as a a political act and an act of knowledge, therefore, a creative act”(p. 13), and it also addresses the essence that is the relationship of language with reality:

 

“The reading of the world precedes the reading of the word, hence the subsequent reading of this word cannot do without the continuity of the reading of that word. Language and reality come together dynamically. The comprehension of the text to be reached by its critical reading implies the perception of the relations between the text and the context ”(p.9).

Reading and re-interpreting all this, here in the 21st century, gives a renewing energy, because language is that infinite place of possibilities.

 

Notes
[1] About this subject, consult https://jornal.usp.br/ciencias/ciencias-humanas/estudo-transcreve-manuscritos-ineditos-de-a-pedagogia-do-oprimido/

[2] The book can be accessed by the link https://educacaointegral.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/importancia_ato_ler.pdf

 

 

Traplev is an artist, bachelor and master of visual arts at the Center for Arts of the State University of Santa Catarina – UDESC, Florianópolis. He was a founding member and general editor of the visual arts publication RECIBO from 2002 to 2015, with 18 issues and more than 74,000 copies published and distributed free of charge by Brazil.