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Exhibition presents Hélio Oiticica's 1971 unrealized proposal Subterranean Tropicália Projects: PN15 1971/2022
Maquette for Subterranean Tropicália Projects: PN15 Penetrable, 1971. Nylon mesh and cardboard. Photographer Miguel Rio Branco, ©César and Claudio Oiticica.



LONG ISLAND CITY, NY.- For the first time in the United States, Socrates Sculpture Park, in collaboration with Projeto Hélio Oiticica and Americas Society, brings an idea originally conceived by late Brazilian artist, Hélio Oiticica to life in Subterranean Tropicália Projects: PN15, 2017/2022. This large-scale immersive environment is based on Oiticica’s never-before-executed proposal from 1971 for Central Park that he conceived while living in New York City. The presentation and partnering programs are built upon Socrates Sculpture Park’s long-standing collaboration with, and support of artists who expand the boundaries of their practice in nontraditional, public spaces.

The immersive environment of PN15 draws inspiration from the City’s thriving underground culture, encouraging visitors to drift through the circular structure of curving corridors for a multi-sensory experience. The installation features plants and image projections that create a play of light, shadow, changes in opacity, framing, and orientation. PN15 will be a space for collective creativity and leisure, dubbed “creleisure” by the artist.

"We are thrilled that Socrates Sculpture Park has taken the initiative to realize Hélio Oiticica's PN15 for the first time,” said brothers of the artist, César and Claudio Oiticica. “Hélio knew the work may not be actualized during his lifetime so he left copious notes and a scale model. It feels appropriate that the project will see its first physical iteration in the city in which it was conceived. The spirit of collaboration was always important to Hélio so we are excited that this participatory work will be activated through films and other performers during the exhibition."

Hélio Oiticica (1937 – 1980) is widely regarded as one of Brazil’s leading artists of the twentieth century and a touchstone for much contemporary art made since the 1960s, primarily through his freewheeling, participatory works of art, performative environments, avant-garde films and abstract paintings. Even before the age of 20, Oiticica was a key member of the historic Rio de Janeiro-based Grupo Frente (1954-56), his radical play with geometric form and vibrant colors transcending the minimal lines of European constructivism and imbuing his work with an exuberant rhythm that resonated with the avant-garde music and poetry of his native Brazil. In the late 1950s, Oiticica would go on to become a leading figure of Brazilian Neo-Concretism (1959-61) that included other groundbreaking artists such as Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape and the poet Ferreira Gullar, ultimately giving rise to the artistic movement known as Tropicalismo, named for a work of Oiticica’s from 1967.

“Oiticica was a pioneer and remains one of the most prolific contemporary artists of his time. His ideas gave way to a new social and political movement, rooted in revolutionary artistic expression. Oiticica pushed the public towards acknowledging the realities of life in 1960s Brazil, and the relationship of South American immigrants to their experience in America,” said Tamsin Dillon, who joined Socrates as Executive Director in February. “Fifty-one years after Oiticica lived and worked in New York City’s Lower East Side, the public will finally experience his vision for Central Park brought to life he re at Socrates.”

“Presenting an unrealized project from Oiticica’s subterranean series enriches Socrates’ curatorial program in a multitude of ways,” said Jess Wilcox, Curator & Director of Exhibitions for the Park since 2016. “PN15 probes and champions ideas of marginality, engages the public and local community groups, provides a platform for other artists to showcase their work, and allows us to do what we do best–producing what others said was too challenging.”

Socrates presents a series of scheduled performances, discussion, and video projections from community partners and living artists to activate the installation, as Oiticica had always intended, bringing new currency to the artist’s vision. The video projection program, which is partly co-curated by Americas Society, presents both historical and recent video by the artist, his Latinx and queer artist contemporaries, and artists who work in one of the many trajectories of his legacy. The projections include works by Regina Vater, Rubens Gerchman, Leandro Katz, and Andreas Valentim.

‘Creleisure Talk: What’s Hidden in the Subterranean?’ a panel on Saturday, June 18th, with Vivian Crockett, Curator, New Museum; Laura Harris, Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies and Art & Public Policy, New York University; Aimé Iglesias-Lukin, Director and Chief Curator, Americas Society; and Jess Wilcox, Curator and Director of Exhibitions, Socrates Sculpture Park will discuss their reactions to the realization of PN15, which was only previously known through archival research.

Over the course of the exhibition, Brazilian and Queer artists will activate the installation as a stage for interactive performances and workshops. The series kicks off with a performance by multidisciplinary artist MX Oops on Friday, May 20th from 5-7pm, in addition to programs with La Luna and Bell Falleiros. During Socrates’ summer monthly New Agora series, the Parks’ community partners – including Fortune Society, and Jazz Foundation of America, among others – will activate PN15, echoing Oiticica’s engagement with the public.

Hélio Oiticica (1937 – 1980) is widely regarded as one of Brazil’s leading artists of the twentieth century and a touchstone for much contemporary art made since the 1960s, primarily through his freewheeling, participatory works of art, performative environments, avant-garde films and abstract paintings. He was a countercultural figure and underground hero, foregrounding bodily interaction with spatial and environmental concerns over pure aesthetics. He was a key member of the historic Rio de Janeiro-based Grupo Frente (1954-56) and a leading figure of Brazilian Neo-Concretism (1959-61) which ultimately gave rise to the artistic movement known as Tropicalismo, named for a work of Oiticica’s from 1967. Oiticica’s work has been the subject of exhibitions at several major museums including the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Tate Modern (London). His work is included in the collections of numerous international institutions including Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporãnea, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Museo de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, USA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA; Tate Modern, London, UK; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA, among others. The Projeto Hélio Oiticica was established in Rio de Janeiro in 1980 to manage the artist’s estate.










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