Inhotim: an interview with Bernardo Paz and Rodrigo Moura

by Mara Sartore
March 9, 2015
Mara Sartore

Bernardo Paz, founder of the Instituto Inhotim, and Rodrigo Moura, director of art and cultural programs, two leading figures of the outstanding Center for Contemporary Art and Botanical Garden Inhotim shed light on the past and next future of one the most innovative Brazilian art institution.

Mara Sartore – Where does the idea of Inhotim come from?

Bernardo Paz – Inhotim was created in an intuitive way; it was not the outcome of intentional, systematic planning. In a trip to Acapulco, Mexico, I saw a great wall. I climbed it to see what was on the other side and faced an extremely beautiful garden – an orchestra playing, a huge lake and many people dancing around that lighted garden. This experience changed my life forever. I had a farm in Brumadinho, close to Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerais. So, in the 80’s I started to create the garden – where the beauty really is. Then I couldn’t see the point of having the garden for itself, so I started building some pavilions. With the passage of time, I began to perceive that what we were putting together went beyond the nature of individual ownership. The overall set consisting of the botanical collection coupled with the art collection had a cultural value that should be an asset available to everyone. I, personally, am motivated by the aim to escape from mediocrity. I am constantly seeking to avoid the commonplace. I aim to observe the rebirth of a new world that has not yet been perceived. I see that, parallel to the technology that permeates contemporary life, what continues to be important are our feelings and our sensibility. And, at Inhotim, we are creating a way of living that is linked to sensibility and feeling.

MS – It’s really great that Inhotim is committed to the social development of the local communities and improve their quality of life. Which are the results after the first 8 years?

BP – As driver of social, cultural and economic development, Instituto Inhotim articulates a range of activities carried out with the community of the city of Brumadinho and its surroundings. In everything from the valorization of popular cultural manifestation to increased business for the restaurant and hotel industry, including social mobilization and research for the recovery of historical heritage, Inhotim plays a significant role in the city’s relations. Becoming the second largest employer in the city, Inhotim has been essential for the professional training of the youths of Brumadinho, who often get their first job at the institute, opening a door to countless perspectives for the future.

MS – Every year, Inhotim shows new art acquisitions. Which are the criteria for the new acquisitions, if there are ones?

Rodrigo Moura – The collection building of Inhotim is an ongoing process. We collect art globally using Brazil as a departure point. The result is multi-generational and multi-cultural, with a focus on in-depth representation of artists and commissioned projects. The exhibitions of this year somehow cover this array of formats: from expansive grouping of works by a single artist organized in an exhibition, such is the case of Geta Bratescu’s presentation, to a full-cycle of commissioned works, in Carroll Dunham paintings, and major scale installation, with Dominik Lang and David Medalla. Last year we also focused on project with artists, with presentions by Babette Mangolte, Juan Araujo and Luiz Zerbini, but we organized an exhibition around a contemporary interpretation of the Still Life theme, with several works by several artists occupying one gallery. MS – “How is the relationship with local and national museums and art institutions? Are you planning some joint projects? Can you give us a little preview?

RM – Inhotim is in constant dialogue with different local institutions. As one of the main collecting institutions in the country, we are lenders to many exhibition projects. On another hand, we are organizing this year the first traveling exhibition from the collection, titled Do objeto ao mundo [From the object to the world], which will be hosted by Palácio das Artes in Belo Horizonte and Itaú Cultural in São Paulo. This exhibition will be the first lengthy presentation of the collection outside Inhotim and will include historical along contemporary works.


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