It’s been 90-some years since Oswald de Andrade’s “Manifesto Antropófago” (“Cannibalist Manifesto”), a document that was a watershed in defining a Brazilian art outside of European influence, and extremely influential on Brazil’s ’60s avant-garde. The limits and biases of its bourgeois appeal to the cultures of Indigenous and Afro-Brazilians has been questioned and debated of late by a new generation of artists and intellectuals in Brazil. Gualberto, an artist, and Roffino, a Rail editor, introduce both the importance of the Manifesto and the context of the contemporary rethinking of its legacy. The Rail issue as a whole brings together essays from those engaged in the debate, from Sergio Vaz’s “Anthropophagous Manifesto from the Periphery” to Cripta Djan’s first-hand account of his work as a pixador, a particularly aggressive form of Brazilian tagger.
“This Is the Black Renaissance” by Ibram X. Kendi, Time
It’s not every day an essay defines a new movement. For his sweeping introduction to a special issue of Time that actually goes so far as to draw up a canon that defines a New Black Renaissance, Kendi gathers together a very large, disparate list of contemporary cultural productions, from Childish Gambino’s This Is America to HBO’s Lovecraft Country to “painters Awol Erizku and Amy Sherald” (Erizku, who did the cover for the issue, is a photographer, not a painter). Kendi’s big claim—that together, these works represent “the third great cultural revival of Black Americans, after the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, after the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s”—is sure to be both a major reference point going forward and fodder for debate.
“Deneocolonize Your Syllabus” by Blake Stimson, nonsite
A provocative argument that could be read as a counterpoint to Kendi, Stimson’s essay examines the differences between “colonialism” and “neocolonialism.” The latter wasn’t just the continuation of the old colonialism. As theorized by Jean-Paul Sartre and Kwame Nkrumah, the concept of neocolonialism described how old-school colonialism, with its naked imposition of European cultural norms, was displaced by a rhetoric of recognizing and affirming national culture. As the United States moved to displace Europe’s influence, neocolonialism decoupled the realms of economics and politics from culture to win hegemony—with consequences that, Stimson argues, haunt debates about politics and culture today.
“The LiveJournal to Sotheby’s Pipeline” by Erin Jane Nelson, Burnaway
A lovely essay by Atlanta-based artist Erin Jane Nelson on what it has meant to be an artist growing up in the age of the art internet. It’s worth the read alone for the anecdote about watching Lucien Smith reverse-engineer his popular paintings by studying what was cool on the art blogs while at Cooper Union. But it’s really worth it just to be reminded of the meaningful creative pathways that the web has opened for artists outside art capitals (and the doors that it has yet to open, too).
“New Localism” by Jeppe Ugelvig, Spike
Jeppe Ugelvig offers a tour of the ways that global lockdown has led us to refocus on local art scenes and away from frenetic, short-attention span forms of jet-setting art-circuit cosmopolitanism. He quotes art professionals talking about both positive outcomes from this year of forced deceleration (“It’s just like in the 1990s”) and negative ones (“the risk is to become mediocre—namely, curating your circle of friends because private foundations grant money to support the local art scene”).