NOVA: An Art Documentary That Entirely Excludes Black Artists

I wanted to like this film. I tried really hard. It was filmed during the Nova Contemporary Culture which happened in July and August 2010, at the MIS-Museum of Image and Sound, and SESC Pompeia, in São Paulo, Brazil.

It put me off with a few too many artist comments about art being a business and branding. There are a few real pretentious twits running through this art documentary. There’s also a lot of very nice, clean, well-behaved, pleasant, comfortable, easygoing, precise, smooth, color-balanced art going on here. I’ll be clear and remind my hesitant readers that I’m really quite the shining example of a creep. When I walk into a gallery I’m looking for the artist who is capable of throwing dirt into my eyes and laughing at me while I wipe it off. Most of the art in this film looks like it has been pre-approved for use by IBM in their next commercial.

I’m not looking for an artist who can tape off their lines straight and make them intersect at the farthest corner of the room. Draw crooked why don’t they? There’s so much goddam masking tape in this film it could wrap the Empire State Building six times over.

But if you watch this thing all the way through you just have to notice that out of all these young up-and-comers there’s apparently not a single black artist involved. I couldn’t find one. Maybe I missed something. But I went back and checked. How do you achieve something like that in 2011? Seriously? Don’t you have to work overtime hours to purposely exclude black artists from a documentary or a major art show like this? Can it be true that there are no black artists capable of sticking masking tape to a museum wall and painting inside the lines? Don’t black artists travel to Brazil?

It may not be director Isaac Niemand’s or producer ROJO‘s fault that the cast excludes black artists, but then perhaps they should have filmed a different art show. Maybe it’s Brazil’s fault.

I feel a little bad about criticizing a documentary film on Vimeo because their service is so based on mutual support and respect between artists. But that kind of thing has severe limits in the world of grownups and serious people.

Art is not preschool. It’s not about support and encouragement of creativity. Self-help bullshit doesn’t have a place in art. Art is about beauty, ugliness and thought that gets up in front of you and is willing to knock you unconscious without apology, willing to scare you, horrify you, enrage you, enrapture you, unsettle you, save you, uplift you, insult you, smash you, whither you, confuse you, ennoble you, or destroy you. But it does not ever want to please you.

Keep the pleasant art in Brazil thank you.