Cultural Convergence at the Americas Society

An exhibition of five works of art by Brazilian artists Mauricio Dias and Walter Reidweg fits perfectly within the programming goals of its gallery space at the Americans Society as it references the similarities and the discord between cultures in the Americas.  Here the artists have chosen to examine  the  cross-cultural and social contexts of North and South America in a variety of ways in each of their works.

In Mama, 2000, a 16 minute film depicts a US border patrol agent discussing training  dogs for the tough job of drug enforcement and policing illegal border crossings.  The piece focuses on the personal and emotional connection between the trained dogs and their agents, and to the left and right of the main film are the “honor roll” of dog portraits with name banners on each to identify the successful canine.

In Suitcases for Marcel, 2006/2008, 12  distinctive cases rest atop separate pedestals, the tops propped open to reveal 7″ LCD panels playing films of characters carrying that particular bag around Rio.  The simultaneously running films document the journeys of the 12 cases while the cases reveal their films from within.  Each case seems to take on its own persona as it tells its own story.

In Raimundos, Serverinos and Franciscos, 1998, Brazil’s poor janitors and doormen gather in a small room and go about their daily activities for 4 minutes, piling in one by one and claiming a few inches of space, before hauntingly dropping their activities and turning to look at the camera as the film ends.  The final seconds create an awareness in the viewers that the men, the most popular names of men in such professions in Brazil, knew we were watching all along and have called us out of our voyeuristic privacy.  Their actions are then revealed to us to have been a performance all along.

Moving Truck, 2009, brings the work of the two artists to the present day and to New York itself.  The artists park a U-Haul truck on the street and broadcast their films in the open back of the truck container.  The reactions of viewers and passersby is filmed as part of the project and displayed in the gallery.

Dias & Reidweg:…and it becomes something else is on view now through August 1, 209 at the Americas Society, 680 Park Avenue, New York City.