JORGGE MENNA BARRETO
Title: Environmental Sculpture
February 28th 2:30pm – 3:45pm
LOCATION CHANGE: Louden Nelson Community Center room 4 located at 301 Center Street
Description: Food production has become one of the most environmentally impactful human activities. Around 80% of the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is related to cattle farming and soybean monoculture to feed livestock. If the way we have been growing food is questionable, that means that what we eat and thus support is part of the problem. The lecture will focus on my latest research -- which relates site-specific art to agroecology -- by unpacking my work Restauro: Environmental Sculpture, first commissioned by the 32 Biennial of São Paulo in 2016. The project took over the pavilion’s restaurant for the duration of the exhibition. Visitor’s appetites triggered a complex system of environmental restoration, as the food originated from regenerative agricultural methods, called agroforestry -- a way of growing food in alliance with the forest. Most of our supply came from squatted farms of Movimento Sem Terra - Brazil's landless people movement, which advocates against the devastation of land, forests and indigenous communities caused by agribusiness. The project partnered with the São Paulo State Department of the Environment and more than 200 small farmers were involved. Adopting principles of solidarity economy and attempting to politicize taste, the Biennial was used as a mechanism of environmental and social intervention. Both on the symbolic and concrete levels, Restauro considered the actual environmental impacts -- and possible restorative potential -- of a mega art event and its thousands of visitors, who were then understood as participants of an ongoing and collective environmental sculpture. The project travelled to the Serpentine Galleries in London, 2017, and more recently unfolded into a publication that will soon be launched as the final project of a residency at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Netherlands.
Jorgge Menna Barreto (b. 1970, Brazil) is an artist and researcher who lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. Throughout his art practice, Barreto has let specific sites determine what he will build and, more recently, what he will eat. His research interests include agroforestry, land art, site-specificity, plant-based food and multispecies entanglements. Barreto is a professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro [UERJ] and makes his research public through teaching, lecturing, writing, translating and doing art projects. He is currently on leave to do postdoctoral research at LJMU, Liverpool, where he will take part in the 2020 Biennial.