Anna Bella Geiger’s Passagens 1
In this exclusive two-week screening, watch Geiger’s hypnotic meditation on art and dictatorship.
Aug 23, 2023
Anna Bella Geiger’s Passagens 1 screened here August 23–September 6, 2023. The video is no longer available for streaming. Join us for the next Hyundai Card Video Views, screening on September 20.
Since the 1960s, Anna Bella Geiger has been interested in cartography as a contested terrain that expresses and contains geopolitical boundaries. The act of mapping and its language of symbols has provided fertile ground for the artist’s experimentations in drawing, collage, sculpture, video, and painting. Geiger’s first video, Passagens 1, charts Rio de Janeiro’s topology of staircases. Captured on a Sony Portapak in a single day in 1974, Passagens 1 was but one video made alongside works by several other artists who gathered to experiment with the new video equipment, which a Brazilian diplomat had just brought back to Rio after a trip to Los Angeles.
At the time, Geiger was a professor at the art school of the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio, and had become disillusioned with her abstract art practice in the wake of the Institutional Act No. 5 (AI-5) of 1968, which marked the military’s abandonment of relative political moderation (coinciding with Castelo Branco’s 1964–67 presidency) in favor of harsh authoritarian measures that shut down Congress, subjected all crimes to rigorous scrutiny and punishment, and engaged censorship as the ultimate form of control and repression. This was personal for the artist, too, as her husband was imprisoned at the end of the 1960s, along with many other liberal academics, as part of a repressive military campaign.
There was a swell of interest in the new technology of the Portapak for Brazilian artists in the ’70s, who found in minimal and quotidian actions a way to reclaim intimacy and individualism amid a state-sanctioned militaristic regime. Passagens 1 marks the artist’s turn away from what critic Mario Pedrosa called Geiger’s “visceral phase” of her organic and abstract works on paper, toward the technological and performative, where she centered daily, repeated acts that sustained her. In the video’s three segments, Geiger relentlessly traverses the staircases of Rio, experiencing what she called its “archaeology.”
I spoke with the artist about the personal and political importance of this work.
—Molly Superfine, Mellon-Marron Research Consortium Fellow, Department of Media and Performance
Hyundai Card Video Views
Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Seduction of a Cyborg
In this exclusive two-week screening, watch how Hershman Leeson’s video allegorizes a woman’s transformation into a cyborg.
Jul 19, 2023
Hyundai Card Video Views
Carlos Motta’s We Who Feel Differently: On Trans Politics and Visibility in the Last Decade
In this exclusive two-week screening, artist Carlos Motta speaks with activist Chase Strangio about fighting for trans rights and autonomy.
Stuart Comer, Chase Strangio
Jun 21, 2023