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Art Residency in Alto Paraiso

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

“ALTO artistic residence seeks to create a space for production and reflection in the heart of an ecological sanctuary.” Fabio Cypriano, 2019

Yatoba - Olivia Sprinkel

ALTO is an Art Residency in the mountains of Alto Paraiso in Brazil. It’s a space for self-directed artists who wish to inform their work by immersing themselves in nature, surrounded by biodiverse jungle and fauna and a powerful, and ever-changing landscape.

The goal is to inspire artists to create new work exploring sustainability and humans’ connection with the earth.

ALTO provides opportunities for critical observation of the programme, both conceptually and technically. As an add-on to the residency, artists and activists can collaborate with local sustainability projects by working in orchards, organic vegetable patches, and bio-construction, fostering a deeper connection with the land and those who inhabit it.

The story

It was thanks to Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Closed" (1999) that Finnish-born Brazilian Marianne Soisalo created one of the most radical art residencies amid the exuberant nature of the mountains of Alto Paraíso de Goiás, in the Chapada dos Veadeiros. Living in London in the 1990s, Mari was one of the owners of the cabaret Madame Jojo, which Kubrick rented to film a scene for “Eyes Closed” in which the character played by Tom Cruise meets his musician friend.

"With the rent money, she bought the land where the residence now operates," says artist Rodrigo Garcia Dutra, who since last year has shared the responsibility for the ALTO residence with Mari.

Although the film was shot at the end of the last century, the land in Alto Paraíso was acquired in 2008 and construction began in 2011. In the meantime, Mari, an environmental activist with a master's degree in zoology from Cambridge University, would sleep in her Land Rover 'Bruce' when she was going to the land. In the space, she built two houses on separate trees, one of them 30 metres tall. The view from there is breathtaking, with blue macaws flying over the area. These homes are the main attraction of the Mariri Jungle Lodge, a creative home and a permaculture project space. Along with the artist Karolina Daria Flora and the Spanish artist Rafael Perez Evans, currently living in London, she created ALTO, receiving artists both by subscribing to and by invitation, which has been organised by Dutra and Mariana Bassani.

Dutra went to Alto Paraíso in 2017 to work at the Goiás Department of Education, but he left after 5 months, and being in contact with Mari already, decided to get involved at ALTO.

He returned to Brazil after graduating from the Royal College of Art to exhibit his work at the 'Mestizo Stories' show at the Tomie Ohtake Institute. He eventually became involved with the Huni Kuin Indigenous, who were there for a ritual of ayahuasca in the art piece of Ernesto Neto. This encounter is what made him decide to return to Brazil.

ALTO is a very private residence with an open stay, because it is aimed at artists who are involved with the land and with sustainability. This is the case for English writer Olivia Sprinkel, who will spend some time there in the coming months to write about global warming. However, it isn’t just activists who are invited. Artist Romain Dumesnil, who works with us at Jaguar Arte and has work available in our gallery, spent two weeks there last year upon invitation. Artists Marcia Ribeiro, Julie Beaufils, Daniela Fortes, and Bia Monteiro have already passed through the residence upon Dutra’s invitation.

Romain Dumesnil

"I think it is important to move the spaces of production and reflection in art out of the big urban centres", defends Dutra.

One of the works created by Manoela Medeiros in the residence is a re-reading of 'Caminhando', emblematic work created by Lygia Clark, in 1964, in turn, an appropriation of the tape of Moebius, where inside and outside constitutes the same space. While Clark's work is on paper, Medeiros's review is with Bananeira tree leaves.

While on the one hand the experience in Alto do Paraiso is dazzling because of the diversity of the region's forests and waterfalls, it is also challenging in the face of conflicts with agribusiness. This practice was probably responsible for the fire that occurred in October 2017, which destroyed 35,000 hectares of savannah vegetation in the Veadeiros National Park, soon after its expansion by about three times. It is speculated that the fire, started at the same time in many different places, would have been a counter-offensive of the farmers. With this situation of polarization, which is the portrait of Brazil today, ALTO becomes an experience of immersion in an ecological sanctuary that, far from being mere tourism, is, after all, another way of experiencing the most central conflicts and dilemmas in the country.

Residency opportunities

ALTO looks forward to hosting artists for residencies. As well as providing a workspace, they offer opportunities to create land and installation art. If you would like to apply, the application will ask you to define a project or goal for your residency and to summarise your professional achievements. Within a few days, they let applicants know whether or not they can be accommodated.

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