|Untitled (Ningbo 0413), 2009|
The Embassy of Brazil in London proudly presents the first solo exhibition by Frederico Câmara in London. The show will present a group of previously unseen works resulting from the artist’s recent one-man expedition to China.
In his trip to China, supported by the British Council’s Darwin Now Award, Câmara photographed the country’s main zoos and aquariums. The expedition, which took place in the second half of 2009 and lasted 86 days, stems from a wider research project to create a World Atlas of the built environment of zoo cages, divided by regions or countries photographed. Zoos not only represent this geographical division in their own collections, but they also reflect, in their design, the “styles” or cultural aspects that are peculiar to the visual culture of the country to which they belong. Previous work for this research project was done in Germany, the UK, Romania, Canada, France, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore and Japan.
Zoological gardens have been created for the appreciation of animals and plants foreign to Europe, brought from the colonial territories that were then considered exotic to the European taste. They occupy an ambiguous position in society, as they can be seen as both a space of protection and a space of imprisonment. Protection comes from the zoos’ aim to be a place for conservation, research and education. Imprisonment derives from their early format as 'menageries', a place for exhibition of exotic species of animals meant to simply entertain the human curiosity. At the same time good and bad, this ambiguity of
function and form is a reflection of our need to care for our environment against our inability to re-create in the zoo, an environment as perfect as nature itself, or to preserve it in the wild.
By concentrating on China for this portion of his project, which despite not being a former European colony it embodies ideas of exoticism in its images, artifacts and materials, Câmara asks the question: How does a country seen as exotic respond to the idea of the exotic through the environmental reproductions in its zoos?
For the artist, the chosen medium of photography best reveals subtle patterns that relate to social as well as aesthetic peculiarities in the areas where the images are created. In Câmara’s words, ‘photography has the power to make us “re-view” a situation after it transformed it into an image. For example, no one stops at an empty cage when visiting a zoological garden, because the objective of such a visit is the contemplation of the animal. The cage is in this case just a background or stage. However, with the cage transformed into an image without the presence of the animal, the cage becomes the subject. This shift in focus from the animal to its artificial environment results in a series of observations related to science, the environment, as well as art and religion, in questioning the act of creation.’
For Câmara’s exhibition, Gallery 32 will be transformed into a projection room, where a selection of the artist’s photographs will be displayed in large-scale, recreating a space of contemplation that resonates the presence of the environments in which they were taken.
Frederico Câmara was born in 1971 in Governador Valadares, Brazil, and has lived and worked in London for the last ten years. In 1993, he graduated in Printmaking from Escola de Belas Artes (UFMG, Belo Horizonte) and in 2004 he obtained an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art, London.
Fellowships: Unesco Aschberg and Lademoen Kunstnerverksteder – Trondheim, Norway; International Research Center for the Arts, Kyoto University of Art and Design – Kyoto, Japan; La Chambre Blanche – Quebec City, Canada; Nordic Art Centre – Dale, Norway; Henry Moore Institute – Leeds, United Kingdom; Akademie Schloss Solitude – Stuttgart, Germany
Awards: Brasil Arte Contemporânea, Fundação Bienal de São Paulo – São Paulo, Brazil; Darwin Now Award, British Council – London, United Kingdom; Pavilion Commissions – Leeds, United Kingdom; Marcantonio Vilaça Award for the Visual Arts, FUNARTE / MinC – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Solo exhibitions: Gallery 32, Embassy of Brazil – London, United Kingdom; In an Ideal World, Pavilion Commissions – Leeds, United Kingdom; The Henry Moore Institute – Leeds, United Kingdom; Landscapes, Galeria Noua – Bucharest, Romania;
Selected group exhibitions: Territories of the (In)Human, Kunstverein Stuttgart – Stuttgart, Germany; New Photography: Pavilion Commissions, Djanogly Art Gallery – Nottingham, United Kingdom; 50 Years of Brazilian Art, Museum of Modern Art – Salvador, Brazil; 10° Salão da Bahia, Museum of Modern Art – Salvador, Brazil; Rumos Visuais, Instituto Itaú Cultural – São Paulo, Brazil
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