"Bandeirante photographers in global context: Brazilian participation in the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP), 1950–1965." Research paper presented at the conference In Black and White: Photography, Race, and the Modern Impulse in Brazil at Midcentury, at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, May 3, 2017.
The conference In Black and White: Photography, Race, and the Modern Impulse in Brazil at Midcentury investigated Brazilian modernist photography, its relationship to race, and its place within a dynamic international network of images and ideas. The conference was organized by Abigail Lapin Dardashti, Museum Research Consortium Fellow, MoMA and Ph.D. Candidate, CUNY, and Sarah Hermanson Meister, Curator, Department of Photography, Museum of Modern Art. The conference took place at the Martin E. Segal Theater, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (365 Fifth Avenue), May 3, 2017.
My paper was part of the panel "International Photographic Networks in Brazil and Beyond," moderated by Claudia Calirman, Associate Professor, John Jay College, CUNY. The other co-panelists were: Lucas Menezes, Université Paris 1—Panthéon Sorbonne, Paris, Marly Porto, Universidade de São Paulo, and Marcio Siwi, New York University.
The Brazilian Association of Photographers (Federaçâo Brasileira de Fotografia) was the only non-European organization among the fifteen founders of the International Federation of Photographic Art (Fédération internationale de l'art photographique, FIAP). Established in Switzerland in 1950, by 1965 FIAP brought together national associations of photographers from fifty-five countries in Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The goal of FIAP was to create a global framework for creative photography—“photographic art”—through organizing biennials and circulating yearbooks and Camera, its official magazine. This paper examines the involvement of Brazilian (and particularly São Paulo) photographers in the work of FIAP between 1950 and 1965.
The founder and president of FIAP, Belgian photographer Maurice Van de Wyer (1897–1994) visited the Brazilian Association of Photographers in São Paulo numerous times during the 1950s. Eduardo Salvatore (1914–2006), president of this Association, was Van de Wyer’s close acquaintance. Salvatore was also the founder and president of Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante (FCCB), which belonged to the Brazilian Association of Photographers. Almost all Brazilian photographers whose work was included in the FIAP Biennials and Yearbooks were associated with FCCB.
Today, art historians recognize FCCB as the creative hub of the Brazilian avant-garde photography. But FCCB united photographers with various aesthetic sensibilities. In FIAP Yearbooks, pictorialist works by Salvatore or Jean Lecocq (called by his peers “the king of mist”) coexisted with experimental, nonfigurative works associated with Arte Concreta, produced by photographers such as Ademar Manarini or José V. E. Yalenti. Such coexistence of multiple (and from today’s perspective, contradictory) aesthetic paradigms reveals how unstable and flexible the meaning of “photographic art” was in the 1950s and complicates the notion of avant-garde in postwar photography.
José Oiticica Filho (1906–1964) is among the most well-known among Brazilian photographers who participated in the activities of FIAP. Recently, scholarly interest in Oiticica Filho’s photographic work has been expanding, and special exhibitions in Brazil marked the artist’s 110th anniversary in 2016. Oiticica Filho’s work for FIAP, however, remains unnoticed. This paper traces some of this work. For example, he compiled the “FIAP official list” of hundreds of international juried exhibitions and exhibitors throughout the world in 1955. The impressive amount of pages that FIAP dedicated to this list in Camera suggest that in the 1950s these exhibitions were crucial for many photographers—avant-garde and conservative alike.