Variations of the Wild Body: Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, photographer
Variações do Corpo Selvagem Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Fotógrafo
Variações do Corpo Selvagem Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Fotógrafo
Variações do Corpo Selvagem Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Fotógrafo
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Variations of the wild body
Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, photographer
23 February to 9 June

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro is internationally recognized as one of today’s leading anthropologists. In the mid-1990s, he developed the theory of Amerindian perspectivism, which has had an outstanding influence on other fields of learning such as aesthetics, literary theory, political philosophy, and philosophy of law, and on artistic practices in particular. Few of his readers know that Viveiros de Castro was a photographer before becoming an anthropologist and that he had produced some of the most emblematic images of the artist Hélio Oiticica and the poet Waly Salomão, as well as stills for the filmmaker Ivan Cardoso (for whom he also wrote screenplays). This is the first exhibition to feature a comprehensive selection of his photographs including some two hundred images produced during the period when, as an ethnologist, he studied the Araweté, Kulina, Yanomami, and Yawalapíti Indian groups. Some of the images produced in the period of collaboration with the artists mentioned above are also shown here through the reproduction of pages montaged for the catalog of the first version of this exhibition (Sesc São Paulo, 2015). The point of intersection between the two sets that comprise the exhibition is in the centrality of the body. This emphasis on corporeality also informs the origin of the author’s anthropological reflection and distinguishes his entire intellectual trajectory—hence our view that this is crucial for the understanding of the double articulation, in his praxis, of photography and thought, art and anthropology.
The guiding thread for Variations of the Wild Body is a concatenation of excerpts from Viveiros de Castro’s essays and interviews through which we aim to emphasize the continuity between the two aspects: his ongoing image-based reflection on the body that makes up his photographic oeuvre, and his ethnological research and theoretical postulates. Textual fragments also contrast different segments of the exhibition—but they do so subtly, we would hope. They have not been separated by subtitles, since the idea is precisely to explore the fluidity between different segments, pose dialogues, and particularly raise dialectical challenges across them. A similarly complex continuity may be seen in the relationship between his early countercultural-art photographs and later Indigenous cultural events. In Viveiros de Castro’s own words, there is “at the same time radical discontinuity and poetic continuity” between the photo of a dancer wearing an Hélio Oiticica cape and one of an Araweté shaman, for example. At the exhibition, according to the anthropologist-photographer, “the transformation of Oiticica’s ‘Be an outcast, be a hero’ into ‘Don’t be poor, be an Indigenous’” is what has been brought into question.

Curatorship Eduardo Sterzi and Veronica Stigger