By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rarely does one have the opportunity to see buff nude and semi-nude males marked with the graffiti stylings of an international feminist leader. Yet, following Friday’s opening of the sensational ‘Eat Art’ exhibition, the concept of physical graffiti has arrived as fine art.
Eat Art, prepared over three years by graffiti artist and feminist leader Anarkia Boladona (aka Panmela Castro), opened Friday to with an electric crowd of 150 that had ventured to Espaço Cultural Conselho dos Direitos da Mulher (51, Rua Camerino) in Rio’s Centro to catch a peak at the series of photos.
The exhibition, which includes 26 high-quality pictures of nude and semi-nude males, is an autobiographical piece for Castro. She explained: “I tell my story through art and the series ‘Eat Art’ was the way to reflect the construction of the myth of the feminine and so deconstruct it in my mind.”
“I started painting very shy arms and backs, then focused on breaking the taboos that prevented me from desecrating the sacred position of women in my mind, to become as a woman able to dominate totally naked bodies,” describes Castro.
The artist has established her position as bold leader working to change the perception of women’s role in society. Her own trajectory in the Rio graffiti scene (starting as a pichadora and earning admiration for her street work) and involvement in international projects focused on challenging gender roles has gained her much deserved recognition throughout the world.
Castro talked about the motivation behind the Eat Art exhibition: “In this work I play with the supposed autonomy given [to] urban women and how shocking it can be when put into action. Switch the roles in the culture of graffiti and put the man, usually always active, in a passive situation awaiting the reactions of the beholder.”
Friday’s opening allowed attendees to offer their own bodies as a canvas for Castro. Situated in the middle of the exhibition space was a bed where people could offer up their bodies for one of Castro’s signature graffiti pieces.
Castro envisioned the opening, and the exhibition itself, to capture the attention of the public as a means to raising awareness of public precepts of women and art. “The public is essential in this work. It is that people understand the work not as erotica or porn, but as political art.”
The exhibition only included pictures of men (though a few photos of painted females have appeared on the internet), pushing the crux of the exhibit to the forefront. “The female body is already massively exploited. The exhibition works in reverse, changing the roles of the dominated and dominating. The painting on the male body changes the context.”
The exhibition is now open to the public thru June 15th and is a must see for those interested in the interaction of politics and graffiti. The exhibit forces the viewer to not only reconsider gender roles in art, but also in society.
It is an imaginative and thought-provoking collection that is sure to illicit different responses from different viewers. The Espaço Cultural Conselho dos Direitos da Mulher is on Rua Camerino, 51, Centro – RJ, phone: 2334-9527.