Andréa Hygino

Klassenzimmer (Sala de Classe)

18.05. – 21.07.2024
Opening 17.05.2024, 19:00

The Kunstverein Bielefeld is delighted to present Classroom (Sala de Classe), the first institutional solo exhibition by Andréa Hygino (b. 1992, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in Europe. Like the Kunstverein, which is located close to two schools, the exhibition’s title also highlights proximity to a site of education: the classroom. Densely interpenetrated by social, societal and political factors, classroom spaces hold out the promise of a democratic sphere of action. But to what extent do actual school experiences reflect this promise? And how much is our answer to that question influenced by the position we speak from?

A recurring starting point of Andréa Hygino’s work is the critical examination of school, including the associated experiences of structural racism and classism. Through a close view into Brazil's public education system, the artist looks at the micropolitics of forms of colonial thought and action which persist in the classroom, interrogating different forms of normalization and domination as well as transformation and participation. The artist's works intertwine childhood memories of the school her mother founded with her own present-day experiences as an artist and teacher. The photographs, video works, installations, drawings, sculptures and texts exhibited in Classroom (Sala de Classe) are informed by processes of learning and unlearning, by student protests in what is called the “Global South” and by language as a cultural technique of decolonial practice. Hygino’s works confront the link between educational pedagogy and the conditions of colonialism. They facilitate a conversation about the responsibilities which this entanglement brings with it.

The ambiguous title Classroom (Sala de Classe) refers to both the space in which a school class takes place and a framework in which social asymmetries are actively reproduced. In fact, in Brazilian Portuguese, a “school classroom” would be translated as sala de aula. By deploying a deliberately incorrect word-for-word translation from English, the name Sala de classe heralds a linguistic attempt to reveal power structures lying “between the lines”.

Which classroom methods and practices are inscribed in students’ bodies?

Andréa Hygino’s engagement with the school environment goes by way of the body. Her work examines how the body is influenced by power structures, as well as the knowledges which the body can sustain and transmit. The recurring image of the open mouth – speaking, eating, chewing – symbolically marks the mouth as a place of empowerment. Hygino's works present exercises in speaking (in fact: speaking back), marking a movement from silence to speech. These works also point out the political significance of food and digestion, specifically in connection with education.

In addition, Andréa Hygino presents a site-specific work entitled Espaço livre para matar aula (Free Space for Skipping School), which has been developed in the exterior spaces of the Kunstverein, a piece which calls out “breaktime” as clearly as the recess bell from an actual nearby school. The second piece in the inner courtyard – entitled Domingos, Feriados, Rios e Marés (Sundays, Holidays, Rivers and Tides) – also refers to these moments of freely-available time. School uniforms hanging on clotheslines hung between trees bring to mind how clothes have previously been discarded, while also critically questioning the democratic promise of equal treatment.
The piece Cadeira Universitária (University Chair) expands the exhibition’s scope into the public spaces of the city of Bielefeld itself. Here, Hygino's examination of how the chair relates to the body serves as starting point for a broader examination of the sitting postures decreed for interior and exterior educational spaces. By dismantling the elements of seating, the artist here calls into question how bodies are constantly invited to “take a seat.” By means of screen prints placed at various locations in the city, Hygino combines artistic modes of deconstruction with the kind of protest which proposes new and reorganized forms. The latter two works were firstly created in the context of Rio de Janeiro, the city in which the artist lives and works– and find site-specific translations into the context of Bielefeld.

KUNSTVEREIN BIELEFELD
Welle 61
33602 Bielefeld

Thu - So 12:00 – 18:00
Mo-Wed, by appointment

T +49 (0) 521.17 88 06
F +49 (0) 521.17 88 10
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