New art arrives in Founders

Students and the community of San Diego gathered at the opening night of the gallery, Xerografia, on Sept. 14. Walker Chuppe/The USD Vista

When students wander through Founders Hall they may discover University of San Diego’s very own art gallery: The Hoehn Family Galleries. This month, the gallery showcases Xerographia, a series released by Brazilian artists during the 70s and 80s. This is the first time any of these art pieces have been shown in America, featuring thirty different artists such as Paulo Bruscky, León Ferrari, Eduardo Kac, and Letitia Parente to name a few. With USD as one of the forty institutions chosen to hold the exhibit the gallery will help generate diversity that will bring the community of San Diego and students together.

With the help of the Xerox, a copy machine, young Brazilian artists were able to find their voices through art. “All you had to do was sneak into the English department, make work, and distribute it with no one stopping you,” Derrick Cartwright, USD art director, said.

During the ‘70s and ‘80s the society found themselves under political challenges that oppressed their people. The Xerox embodies the freedom of expression that was otherwise silenced by the Brazilian dictator, João Goulart.

“Photocopies became a new artistic medium, offering exciting possibilities for performance, film, self-publishing, and even international exchange through mail art strategies,” the gallery website stated.

The artwork shown is a variety of print, film, and photography. Cartwright further explained the importance of fax machines during that time.

“Artists used fax machines (another outmoded technology) and diazotypes (like a blue print) and rubber stamps to make art that could be easily reproduced and circulated,” Cartwright said.  “Today we might use a printer or an app like Snapchat to communicate the same kind of urgent messages as these artists did 40 years ago.”

Cartwright explained how the gallery catalog, Xerographia, defines what the Xerox machine meant to the artists.

“What came to be known as xerography became particularly popular in Brazil, capturing the imagination of multiple generations of artists for a period of approximately twenty years,” Cartwright said.

The Xerox machine served as a medium for these artists who wanted to create a voice for the oppressed.

The gallery is set up to show the progression and influence of the art. Xerographia accomplished this by placing two different decades of art into two distinct rooms. In Founders, the room on the left shows the art produced during the seventies. The art displayed across the room depicts pieces from a decade later in the eighties.

“One of the things that happened is the military began to relax and artists were less censored,” Cartwright said. “They could do different things with the form of new media to make public statements. Young women were also taking part and Cartwright adds, “A lot of these artists were young women who felt that the Brazilian culture didn’t give them the freedom that they wanted.”

The exhibit tackles an important issue of how important it is for younger generations to have a voice, especially college students. The art itself represents and embodies that younger generations shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for their rights and shows a creative way in how young artists chose to protest.

“Students can attend any number of events connected to this project: lectures, panel discussions, and gallery talks,” Cartwright said. “The galleries are open six days a week and open to classes outside of those hours.  Some of these works will never come to the US again. It would be great if students took full advantage of this.”

Following the exhibit, Mario Ramiro, one of the featured artists, will be lecturing about the Brazilian Xerox art at Manchester Auditorium on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. about the art and its historical context.

The exhibit will be up to the end of the semester, Dec 16.

Nicole Kuhn | Assistant News Editor | The USD Vista