By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The closing of an exposition alluding to torture during Brazil’s military dictatorship years has received widespread criticism. Officials, however, say that the performance to be held at Casa França-Brasil Cultural Center on Sunday afternoon was not in the contract between the center and the state government.
“The Casa França-Brasil is run by the state and there was an exhibition authorized by the Secretary of Culture and in that exhibition there was no human performance, much less nudity,” stated Rio de Janeiro’s governor, Wilson Witzel.
“So the issue is not the performance, it’s not the collective and it’s not about the performance. The contract has been breached and cannot be executed in the public space,” reiterated Witzel denying that the reason for the closure was the theme.
The curator of the event, however, rebukes the governor’s statement.
“I communicated in advance the content of the performances to the direction of the House, and was authorized to go ahead,” wrote the curator of the exhibition, Álvaro Figueiredo on his social media account.
The performance called “The voice of the sewer is the voice of God” included an artist in the nude and hundreds of plastic cockroaches around a sewer top. From the sewer there would be a recording of newly elected President, Jair Bolsonaro, transmitting speeches.
Others, directly affected by the years of military dictatorship in the country also criticized the move.
“What?! With what right ?! Do you know Art.5 of the Constitution? Ordered to close because a performance would allude to torture during the dictatorship” Marcelo Rubens Paiva wrote on his twitter.
Paiva’s father, Rubens Paiva, was a political activist who was tortured and killed by Brazilian military forces in São Paulo in January of 1971.
As for the performance, the artists scheduled to perform it promise the show will go on.
“We will not shut up. This work is just the beginning of a process that will have many developments and actions,” says the statement released by the creators of the performance, the group És Uma Maluca.
The group promises to stage the performance on the sidewalk in front of the cultural center on Monday afternoon.