Marcelo Rezende

Director of the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia (MAM-BA)


Museal Episode. Photo: Marcelo Resende

From your point of view, what are the main questions and problems of the Global South?

Perhaps the most urgent question is along the lines of which actions and processes can be used to carry out real horizontal cultural dialog. This seems to be an initial question, but it really touches on the whole range of relations. So, from this perspective, we should ask ourselves: who and how did we arrive at this concept of the Global South? Do the cultures and nations involved in this concept recognize themselves in this definition? What would the Global South that exists inside of Germany have to comment on this definition? Everything begins, or is destroyed, by the history of the construction of a concept.

Where are the gaps in the South-South dialog?

Let’s go back to what was suggested in the first question. Is the South a definition of geographic borders? Tropical America in dialog with Asia and Africa? Or could we look for another definition, one that flows beyond its own territory: could the South be an experiment of civilization, one in which a culture is crossed by cultures and hegemonic discourses, having its space, power and memory withdrawn from itself? Heading in this direction, the residents of Eastern Europe, indigenous peoples and families from the Brazilian Northeast stand together in this very South imaginary. The gap emerges at the moment when, instead of choosing itself, a culture is chosen to belong to something in which it does not recognize itself, submitting to the choice made by the other.

How does the “Museal Episode,” in which you participated, relate to these gaps and problems?

Something I have defended since the beginning of the project is for the program, by its nature, to be its own labyrinth of all the issues discussed. And this is what is most positive. The idea of the labyrinth explains itself by the fact that for each question posed (what is the Global South, the colonial experience, the hegemonic discourse, etc.) there is no final answer, but rather another doubt that arises, another question, another door to go through and find, of course, another question. And why is this a positive experience? Because for all of the professionals who are part of the group, the museum, the archive, the memory, the collection and the exhibit are the structures through which all this thinking and its contradictions develop in order to imagine the problems for the construction of (or the fantasy of constructing) a discourse that is really honest in line with the historical moment through which the cultures are passing. The group, finally, has posed these questions and perhaps with this the institutions that its members represent can, based on this experience, learn again. How to exhibit an object or an idea in the face of this cultural power play? How can a museum truly be a culturally honest museum? How do we open a window to see history with fresh eyes?

Marcelo Rezende is director of the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia (MAM-BA) and is going to host the first meeting of the museal episode. Besides his position in the MAM, he also works as a writer, critic and curator. In 2014, he was the chef curator of the 3rd Biennal da Bahia.