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Capacete

Biography

Helmut Batista was born in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is the director of the non-profit contemporary art space CAPACETE at the Escola de Cinema e Audiovisual Darcy Ribeiro in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Between 1985 and 1997 he worked as an artist, set designer and camera assistant in Paris, Vienna and Milan. Batista has exhibited worldwide and given talks in many cultural institutions. He published “Public Intervention” (1991), “The Interventionist” (1994) and “You Do Not Need to Pay, But You Have to Consume It” (1997).

Institution

Capacete is a not-for-profit private institution which began its activities in July 1998. At the time it was named Espaço P and was located in the Flamengo area, in Rio de Janeiro. In 1999 it was renamed Capacete projects and after having joint forces with Agora, it became Capacete Entertainment in 2001.

Capacete’s mission is to “exhibit and produce previously unseen conceptual and contextual works, comprising a variety of artistic strategies”. The strategies for developing Capacete’s program that are currently adopted by the institution are a residency program, a mobile residence program called “Road”, other mobile projects (some of them were presented at the San Paolo Biennial in 2002) and diverse collaborations with other organization and festivals of all artistic disciplines in Brazil and abroad. In particular, Capacete has a strong connection with the cinema field, and takes part in many events presenting video installations.  Capacete has diverse collaboration agreements with foreign cultural institutions based in Santiago de Chile, New York, London, Paris, Montreal and Helsinki.

Capacete is strongly linked with the city of Rio de Janeiro too, which is considered an important laboratory to connect the artistic practice with aesthetic, social and political processes in the broader Brazilian territory.

Report

During the meeting with Helmut Batista, we talked about the city of Rio de Janeiro. We discussed the residency program of Capacete and its focus on the creative process and we talked about the role of art in the complicated context of today’s world.

The city of Rio de Janeiro is considered to re-actualise all Brazilian complexities thanks to its historic, urban, topographic, environmental and social characteristics: looking at Rio, on one side there are the musical culture, the cinematographic system, the area of Copacabana which is lively, but on the other hand it recalls a decadent glamour; from another point of view Rio is characterized by a radical violence which is able to destroy any preconceived idea one could have of the city.

Rio is a perfect expression of a society divided into compartments defined by specific borders and at the same time is a place where those compartments are forced to confront themselves continuously in a space characterized by undefined borders. Given that, we can say that Rio has a strong impact on the production of the imaginary.

Capacete tries to affect the city by entering into it and transforming and remapping it. All projects promoted by the organization try to explore the interfaces between the city, images and words.

Capacete projects involve different artistic disciplines and different spaces of the city in order to create innovative forms of production, documentation and diffusion of culture. In these projects there is an attempt to create a space in the city which is liveable personally by people also through the interactions between the artist and the urban space.

The residency program is developed in Santa Theresa, which is one of the places in the city in which borders between different social compartments are blurred: favela dwellers, bohemian middle class, workers and tourists entrench themselves in the area. The residency program is designed together with other domestic and foreign cultural institutions (all from South America), is funded by ten private foundations and Capacete is responsible to fund the research for the artists it hosts.

The most important aspect that emerged during the interview is the fact that Capacete focuses on the creative process rather than the artistic product. Helmut Batista is strongly convinced that putting too much pressure and stimuli on the artist may block or damage the artistic production.

So, the aim of this residency program is to offer to selected artists diverse space of confrontation and mutual exchange. This is carried out by workshops throughout the year to which artist, philosophers, journalists, architects are invited. During the year. Capacete acts as a gallery for the promotion of artists, but without the clear intention of selling works of art: the focus is more on the promotion of the artist and the diffusion of his work. As a result, Capacete does not expect an artistic product at the end of the residence period form the artist. According to Helmut’s point of view the certainty that some signs of the period of time spent in residence will be present in the future production of the artist is enough to consider his goal accomplished.

The focus on the process rather than the final artistic product together with the legal status of Capacete and the difficult system of fundraising make the selection process for the residency program really difficult. In particular the choice of the criteria to adopt is problematic. Right now the selection is a result of a decision made either by people who fund the organization or its directors. Since many artist who participated in the program exhibited their work in places of international importancem (the last one at Tate Modern), Capacete is trying to make its selection process more democratic and objective.

Capacete was born in response to a reflection on an economy dominated by global capitalism and to a field of institutional art which doesn’t give visibility and development to small constellations of local and international artists who deserve it. So, it works on strategies of circulation and availability of works of art and projects with the aim of opening them to a public wider than the usual art public.

The focus on the process rather than the final artistic product together with the legal status of Capacete and the difficult system of fundraising make the selection process for the residency program really difficult. In particular the choice of the criteria to adopt is problematic. Right now the selection is a result of a decision made either by people who fund the organization or its directors. Since many artist who participated in the program exhibited their work in places of international importancem (the last one at Tate Modern), Capacete is trying to make its selection process more democratic and objective.

Capacete was born in response to a reflection on an economy dominated by global capitalism and to a field of institutional art which doesn’t give visibility and development to small constellations of local and international artists who deserve it. So, it works on strategies of circulation and availability of works of art and projects with the aim of opening them to a public wider than the usual art public.

Capacete website

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