Posted by Rebecca J. Atencio
Amnesty Commission President Paulo Abrão of the Amnesty Commission was in New York this week, attending to official business that included a Marcas da Memória (Marks of Memory) Film Screening at the Brazilian Consulate and two roundtables on the role of art in remembering the dictatorship at NYU’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.
In the first roundtable, historian James N. Green (Brown University) gave a talk entitled “Fashion Shows and Broadway Plays” on the body as site of performing denunciations of the Brazilian military dictatorships in the United States. Green examined the case of Brazilian designer (and mother of desaparecido Stuart Edgar Angel Jones) Zuzu Angel’s fashion show in New York City in September 1971, the performance of the Living Theatre Collective upon its return to the US from Brazil, and the Broadway production of Roberto Athayde’s play Apareceu a Margarida (Miss Margarida’s Way). Those interested can find these examples in Green’s excellent book, We Will Not Remain Silent (Duke 2010). Art historian Estrellita Brodsky, for her part, gave an in-depth talk about depictions of torture in the fine arts.
Also in the first panel, filmmaker Sílvio Tendler explained to the audience why he is known as the “filmmaker of interrupted dreams,” tracing his work on historical figures whose struggles for a better Brazil were cut short. Among his subjects are Brazilian presidents Juscelino Kubitschek and João Goulart, as well as lawyers and military officers who opposed the dictatorship. Tendler emphasized that without the Ministry of Justice/Amnesty Commission’s Marcas da Memória project, it would have been impossible to produce, much less distribute, his films on the latter subjects.
In the second panel, Performance Studies scholar Marcos Steuernagel (NYU) presented on the question of delayed temporalities in the theatrical productions of the group Ói nóis aqui traveiz. Cultural Studies scholar Rebecca Atencio (Tulane) spoke about artistic-cultural expressions marking the 50th anniversary of the Brazilian military coup. Paulo Abrão closed the session with a talk about the role of youth movements in contemporary Brazil, which paved the way for a lively debate about the significance, repercussions, and official responses to the June 2013 protests, and their relationship to the legacies of dictatorship.