Rio de Janeiro is—literally—an open air art gallery. The city is home to the largest collection of public art in Brazil, with more than 570 works on display in parks, plazas and streets, constituting a collection whose inception dates back to the 17th century. Nothing could be more appropriate for the city that flaunts the title of “marvelous” and that becomes even more interesting as it promotes contact between the work of art, the natural landscape, and people who circulate in the environs.
This is the perspective of the unprecedented biennial project OiR—Other Ideas for Rio, which begins on September 7, 2012, and comes to an end with the 2016 Olympics, promoting original interventions in picture-postcard locations around the city. Internationally prestigious artists who had never before created for the city were invited to propose major works for Rio de Janeiro’s urban landscape.
The six works in this first phase carry the signature of British artists Andy Goldsworthy (Cais do Porto) and Brian Eno (Arcos da Lapa), Spanish artist Jaume Plensa (Enseada de Botafogo), American Robert Morris (Cinelândia), Japanese Ryoji Ikeda (Arpoador), and Brazilian Henrique Oliveira (Parque Madureira).
The event is sponsored by HSBC bank, Oi, the Government of Rio de Janeiro State, and the City Government of Rio de Janeiro, with cultural support from Oi Futuro and the Ministry of Culture (MinC). Marcello Dantas is the curator.
September 7 through November 2, 2012.
Enseada de Botafogo | Cinelândia | Arcos da Lapa | Cais do Porto | Praia do Diabo | Parque Madureira, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
The works by Robert Morris, Jaume Plensa, Andy Goldsworthy and Henrique Oliveira will be open to the public from September 7 through November 2. For more information, visit the page for the artists here on the site. HSBC bank offers a free tour of these works on weekends and holidays, accompanied by a cultural guide. Learn more and sign up.
The projections by Ryoiji Ikeda and Brian Eno will take place on specific dates and will also be open to public presence. More information on the page for the artists here on the site.
Events and visitation of works are free.
Click here to more information about OiR
Tels (21) 2274.0131 / 2239.0835
"This city that became iconic for a work of public art, Christ the Redeemer (…) needs to have a positive attitude able to foster creativity and dialogue among different cultures."
Click to see the complete text by Marcello Dantas, OiR curator.
“Finding an opening
for other ideas
for Rio is a way
to bring the city’s
“The foreign gaze
was a mirror
of our own identity,
sometimes reflecting us,
Rio de Janeiro is a city with a dazzling vocation for protagonism: it holds a place in the universal imagination—whether for its landscape, its people, or the radical urban experience it offers. One of the challenges Rio faces at the moment is to understand itself more and more as an essentially cosmopolitan stage, capable of absorbing different creativities, cultures and behaviors into its urban skin. And public art, which is characterized by the capacity for reverberation on a large-scale, points precisely in this direction: the art is there to be appreciated and criticized by everyone, and to generate a zone of friction at the border between creativity and the relationship each citizen maintains with the public space.
Finding an opening for Other Ideas for Rio is a way to bring the city’s spectacular context into evidence. This city that became iconic for a work of public art, Christ the Redeemer, that has germinated poets like Gentileza in its underpasses, whose streets have given rise to countless works by Brazilian artists such as Waltercio Caldas, Angelo Venosa, Tomie Ohtake, Franz Weissman and Amilcar de Castro, needs to have a positive attitude able to foster creativity and dialogue among different cultures. This premise is fundamental for being global, contemporary and for hosting competitions as important as the Olympics and the World Cup.
Other sensibilities are necessary to help us understand who we are: in the nearly five centuries of this city’s history, artists and voyagers have, at different times, brought another way of seeing what we were accustomed to understanding as our own image, adding a new layer to how we identify ourselves today. What would Brazilian iconography be without names like Eckhout, Debret, Ferrez, Verger, along with so many others who disembarked here? The foreign gaze was a mirror of our own identity, sometimes reflecting us, sometimes bewildering us.
In fact, the OiR project proposes a kind of return to this foreign gaze, to be attained by inserting new ideas that originate with artists from different parts of the world, and who had never developed works specifically for Rio. Instigated by the city, these artists responded to it.
The artists in this edition of OiR come from very diverse artistic languages and origins but, in common, they have the experience of developing large-scale works. There is an element shared by the works that now occupy the city, which is the importance and necessity of relating to the idea of the milieu, that which unites us. This idea presents itself unmistakably in the Glass Labyrinth by Robert Morris, in the delicate clay Dome by Andy Goldsworthy, and in the wood Shellshelter by Henrique Oliveira, works that rely on an active relationship with the public in these new and unexpected spaces that have sprung up in the urban fabric.
Ryoji Ikeda, in another interpretation, launches his digital projections, interweaving radio waves with the waves of the ocean that is, in itself, such a distinguishing element in the city’s identity. Brian Eno, with his mapped-out paintings, dematerializes the architecture of the Arcos da Lapa, one of the city’s icons. Lastly, Jaume Plensa’s intervention in the landscape of Botafogo Bay—a monumental head that emerges from the reflective surface of the water that is part of the city’s classic picture postcard, in conjunction with Sugarloaf mountain—makes us rethink this landscape, viewing it differently, with a new and unexpected focus.
It is through public initiatives like these that we can find a gateway into Brazilian society in order to bring quality culture from around the world to a space that is open, accessible, democratic and free, allowing people from all walks of life to relate to contents that are normally kept closed to all but a few.
The only possible place for contemporary art to exist is in a zone of discomfort, in the frontier territory of uncertainty and risk. Contemporary art has the task of continually expanding our perception of what art can be. This is intensified in urban space. Public art is not about “things”, but, most assuredly, about “events”. Public art is risk amplified.
To accept the risks involved in developing new works in open contexts is very rare. To find collaborators who believe in innovation and creative audacity can generate something precious. HSBC, Oi, Rio’s City Government and the State Government are linchpins in the delicate equation for making this initiative happen.
With this project, Rio joins the ranks of those cities that have accepted running that risk. It’s time to open our minds and listen to Other Ideas, and think Rio differently. OiR is Rio, reversed.
Marcello Dantas, curator of
OiR — Other Ideas for Rio