Mythologies by Proxy brings together over fifty artworks from the MAM Collection selected by 22 participating artists and its two curators. This project stems from the exhibition Mythologies that took place at the Cité Internationale des Arts, in Paris, in December 2011, showing works by the same group of artists. Commissioned by the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations, the original project reflected on the growing international interest in Brazilian contemporary art, whilst bringing together practices that explore some of the many cultural legacies that make up Brazilian modernity.
The main interest behind proposing a new version of Mythologies at MAM was to bring to the fore questions raised in the first exhibition by reflecting on the works that compose the museum’s collection. Therefore, the curators created a mechanism in which each artist who took part in Mythologies was invited to select one or more artworks from the collection for the present exhibition. This time round the curatorial work was defined by uncertainty in relation to the show’s final format, as the artists had total freedom of choice. Once the deadline for selection was established, Mythologies by Proxy was gradually revealed as the artists submitted their nominated pieces. These were characterised not only by the variety of selected mediums and styles but – above all – for representing a group of works less well-known to the museum’s public. In fact, the absence of what we may call “key artworks” in the MAM Collection – such as those by Geraldo de Barros, Hélio Oiticica, Mira Schendel and many others – is noteworthy.
The commitment and engagement shown by the participating artists was revealed in choices that establish a dialogue with their own artistic trajectories and interests, opening up new possible links between Brazilian art’s modern and contemporary legacies, and offering an alternative to those proposed by critics, historians, and curators. This second stage of the project also carries an interesting inversion: whereas in Mythologies the curators’ intention was to examine Brazil’s historical legacy from the perspective of contemporary artworks, Mythologies by Proxy mainly features historical artworks that point to the development of the contemporary production.