Solange Farkas led the field in mapping electronic art produced in Brazil and its dissemination internationally, after waging a battle in the arts world for 22 years. She quietly dealt with the troubles and difficulties of introducing and disseminating video language in Brazil, meeting with lack of knowledge or interest, especially in art venues. Museums and galleries Eventually she saw this mentality start to change.Directing the Videobrasil International Festival of Electronic Art, now an event held every two years, she developed the work of producing, screening and disseminating, researching, discussing and building a collection in the field of videoart that has made the Videobrasil association an international reference in Latin America.Over its 22 year history, the International Festival of Electronic Arts has faced difficulties in providing logistics and infrastructure. It also saw the need to open up the project and make contact with other electronic-art realities outside Brazil. After its first ten years, making the festival an event of international reach was crucial and implied a change of status.It was then (1982) that Videobrasil had to move from Museu da Imagem e do Som (MIS) to Sesc-Pompeia, where it found a home to ensure the continuing growth of the Festival. Partnering with Sesc enabled it to attract more partners, such as the Prince Claus Fond from Holland. Thus a basic structure was set up to conduct ongoing research at a high level and ensure cooperation and partnership with the international scene: media centers, festivals and artists.
Videobrasil was no longer an isolated event and gradually became an institution capable of housing a collection and meeting the commitments required by the international community. But all this was still not enough. From 1987 to 1989, video slipped into crisis in Brazil : the absence of other references or exchanges of experience was debilitating for work done here, and this affected responses from the public and the media. Based on this diagnosis, one of the alternatives to “save” the festival was to open up its programming on an international basis, bring in successful experiences and create new opportunities for exchange between local and international artists. In light of this perspective, another question was posed: would this event not lead to major imbalance between works, and thus the exclusion of Brazilian work, it being more fragile for obvious reasons?
The first step was to lengthen the period between one festival and another, so artists would have more time to reflect, produce and obtain more resources for their works. These necessities gave rise to a competitive exhibition (Mostra Competitiva do Sul) that raised the profile of other Latin American countries, who were also isolated from the scene. On this basis, a route was put together for circulation of works by Brazilian artists particularly. These exhibitions brought people from abroad who were interested in seeing our production, and possibly showing it at their exhibition spaces.
Following the example of other countries, Solange Farkas sought support from broadcasting stations such as TV Cultura and TV Educativa to act as co-producers and distributors of videoart in Brazil, but the attempt was in vain. Solange therefore built partnerships with international media centers, such as CICV in France, so that Brazilian artists could live abroad for a time . Curators of museums that exhibited, acquired and organized collections or temporary exhibitions of electronic art were also invited to the Festival . Partnership with the Prince Claus Fond was crucial for maintaining Videobrasil’s collection of almost four thousand Brazilian and international works, the recent annual documentaries, and curatorial designs produced for other institutions in Brazil and abroad. Proof of the success of this proposal was the acquisition of works by institutions such as MoMA, the New Museum and the Museum of Modern Art of Chicago.
By acting on all these fronts, Videobrasil has become an important center of contemporaneity and dislocated geopolitical points of view. Today, the field is open to dissemination, analysis, exchange, research and experimentation. Solange Farkas’ vocation seems to lend visibility to the invisible. For her thorough and painstaking work, she is receiving the Hors Concours award and the gratitude of the entire collective for which her cause and dream has been vital.
* Summarized from Solange Farkas’ speech on December 3, 2002, at the Sergio Motta Awards 2nd Discussion Forum. See the publication Mídia Arte: Fomento e Desdobramentos. Sao Paulo: Instituto Sergio Motta, 2003, p. 33 – 43.