Art = Life

Text for the Cabelo introduces MC Fininho and DJ Barbante at Baile Funk (Gentil) Carioca exhibition

Felipe Scovino

Exhibition catalog | 2011

Collaborative and collective practices have been a constant in the last two decades, mainly due to a symptom of visual arts: the ability to constantly rethink and retrain its aesthetic and political positions. If, on the one hand the visual arts advance with the formatting of dialogues with another territories and disciplines, on the other hand, it tends to cross borders and cast doubt on the articulations and appearances from its own experimentation. I draw attention to this last point, because in this exhibition we are facing the work of an artist who always combined two artistic fields harmoniously, (music and visual arts), establishing more contact points than differences, and a curator, who despite having a solid work as an artist, never deprived himself of the function of the critic (for example as editor of the magazines Item and O Carioca).

Although many of these cited practices include collaborations between artists, this exhibition involves a project where artists collaborate around a culture that suffers from the swinging pendulum of media coverage and cultural revalidation for the, let´s say, less fortunate. Funk, although it has in recent years left the suburbs to be a medium and product of, for example, large advertising agencies and television broadcasters, is still the object of prejudice as MC Marcinho would say in “Som de Preto” (“Black Sound”): “É som de preto/ de favelado/ mas quando toca/ ninguém fica parado”.

It is curious that MC´s Fininho´s alter ego Cabelo (itself a nickname), uses the concept of spectacle to construct a show / album / musical performance where tangible models of sociability are manifested and a mode of production that despite being craftsmanship, precarious, with an air of bricolage, is also powerful and – unambiguously – sophisticated. These two characteristics are heavily advertised and marked on the funk culture, and because of this process of dilution and commercial advertising, they tend to be lost or displaced, resulting in what could be defined as the possibility of the gradual loss of the “aura of funk.” MC Fininho and his collaborators, impose, in a certain way, “the old order of funk,” or an identification process that is closer to the ideology and production of this culture: the Baile organized for the opening of the exhibition creates a mechanism that beyond the reification of social relations, leaves us informed about a plural, polyphonic, highly potent structure, identical to the set up of Carioca Funk.

The term “cast doubt” that I used at the beginning of the text refers in this context to an artist moving towards a character, and a Baile that at any moment prescinds from being a theatrical scene to becoming a central figure in the exhibition. The question that MC Fininho asks – how to live together and nourish these differences? – moves us to another territory: the Baile, its guests and images must be read from the perspective of the artist, not as “political artist” but as an artist who “makes art politically.” It is curious that the Baile at no point denies the elements of consumer culture, advertising or entertainment in funk – an accusation that visual arts suffers. This aspect of seduction is accentuated at all times. However, there is a radical difference in taking this stance. To bring the culture of the periphery to the art market, not with spectacular packaging, but as the show that it always was. Without makeup and false mindless speeches, nor through representing in the most naïve and easy way possible the articulations and manifestations of funk, MC Fininho exposes the sincere core of a funk that may be aggressive in speech but displays in the formation of it’s collaborative body the sense of a world that is deeply sensitive and affectionate. It is in this dubiety between the image of it and what funk really expresses, that MC Fininho builds and organizes his arsenal of images. The objects exhibited are not ways to understand the song or the literal production of what is being heard, but the composition of a network, an intermittent dialogue between sound and image, or between object and immateriality.

If we consider a function for art, it lies precisely in its ability to destabilize and critique conventional (or distorted) ways of representation and identity. So, it becomes evident in the collaborative action of MC Fininho (or Cabelo) that art has not, in fact, a positive content, but is the product of an intensely somatic form of knowledge, since projects like this “challenge us to recognize new modes of aesthetic experience and new grids for thinking about identity through the exchange of densely textured, haptic and verbal processes that occur in the interaction.” The Baile of MC Fininho invites us to realize how we engage in dialogue and see the Other, how we reprocess difference, and calls attention to the exchange itself as a creative practice and element of social exchange. Enjoying the Baile, then, is to live with differences, constitute our subjectivity, and in a mix between utopia and desire, to shape a better world. Perhaps we intuitively already knew this, but this exhibition is a proposal to clarify that the apparent outbreak and ownership of difference are the constituent parts of our culture and ourselves.

1 – I am referring to the fact that several performers, parties and nightclubs have been using the name of funk to promote themselves. What we perceive is that this (counterfeit) funk does not always correspond to the “carioca funk”, produced in the poor communities of Rio de Janeiro, and the motive of collaborative practices promoted by Cabelo for the exhibition in question. It was also noted that this style of music uses different fundamentals from the ones used by the “funk carioca”.
2 – (It’s the black sound / of the slum dweller / But when it plays no one stands still”)
3 – A “Baile” is a party in which funk music is played.
4 – We should remember that one of the products generated by the exhibition is a catalog containing a CD with the songs performed under a collaboration between Cabelo and the guest artists.
5 – Cf. KESTER, Grant H. Colaboração, arte e subculturas, in Caderno Videobrasil 2, São Paulo, Associação Cultural Videobrasil, 2006, p. 31.