A new publication about the Brazilian military dictatorship launched this March: Artememoria is an online, primarily English-language arts magazine that approaches the relationship between the arts and memory of dictatorship in Brazil.
The 21-year period of authoritarianism in Brazil between 1964 and 1985 is rarely discussed in English outside of academia. But the dictatorship is not a niche historical topic only relevant to Brazilians and scholars. It is a period of history that deserves a wider audience, not only because the dictatorship was part of the regional trend of authoritarian regimes in the South Cone, formed with the support of the United States under the National Security Doctrine, but its oppressive structures also persist to this day. With authoritarian energy rising globally, discussing dictatorship and its continued presence in democracy needs to be a conversation that crosses nation-state borders. Engaging the incredible art that represented and that continues to represent, challenge, and resist state violence is a way to begin that more global conversation. These are the foundations for the magazine Artememoria: the need for collective memory about state violence and an appreciation for the power of art in building that memory.
Work ‘Memory of Forgetfulness: The 434 Victims’ on exhibition Hiatus, artist Fúlvia Molina (2017). Photo: Joca Duarte
Artememoria publishes original art, interviews, critical essays, and more – and it is a completely digital, free-access, and non-profit magazine. The Labouisse Fellowship from Princeton University fully funds the project. I am the founding editor of the initiative and studied Comparative Literature and Latin American Studies at Princeton. The concept for the magazine came from my academic research on memory of dictatorship in 1990s literature from Brazil and Argentina, as well as from journalistic reporting in Brazil – but the publication does not simply represent my personal perspective. The goal for this project is that it be as collective as possible, and increasingly so as the magazine becomes well known. With contributions from artists, open submissions for pitches, and the website compatibility to make articles available in multiple languages, Artememoria is a collaborative platform that can grow with its audience.
The magazine releases issues with a mix of medias and article formats focused on a theme. The first issue is called “Witness Testimony” and features interviews with two witnesses of dictatorship: documentary filmmaker Silvio Tendler and interview editor for O Pasquim, Richard Goodwin. Also included in the issue are contributions by novelists Bernardo Carvalho and Ricardo Lísias, a virtual tour of a visual art exhibition at the Memorial da Resistência (Brazil’s only site of memory of the dictatorship), an interview series on current censorship of the arts in Brazil – and more. “Witness Testimony” uses an eclectic mix of content to contemplate the act of the artist bearing witness to state violence, particularly when the state tries to obscure or silence those instances of violence. Each article finds echoes, parallels, and contrasts with other pieces in the issue, inspiring further questions about themes such as censorship, political transitions, satire, photography, sexuality, and more.
Writer Bernardo Carvalho. Photo: Lara Norgaard.
I have two challenges for the reader of Artememoria. First, I hope you read “Witness Testimony,” searching for thematic ties, aesthetic links, and theoretical questions that I have not yet even imagined. Then, I urge you to use that foundation to help me build future issues of the magazine with more representation from women and people of color, with your own concepts and memories, with new art, literature, music, and film. Throughout that process, Artememoria will also stay active on its blog (available here). Keep your memory fresh by liking Artememoria on Facebook and following the magazine on Twitter.