In 2003 I used a grant from the Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis to buy $1000 of Brazilian art and R$1000 of U.S. art (1000 Reals, the Brazilian currency). I was able to acquire 7 multiples by Brazilian artists ( Lygia Pape, Waltércio Caldas, Carlos Zílio, José Resende, Nuno Ramos, Marcos Chaves and Hilal Sami Hilal), and one multiple by a U.S. artist (a photograph by David Levinthal). I then donated the collection to the museum, returning their money in a charged way (a good or bad investment?). Instead of showing the artworks I exhibited their wrapping paper and prices in Reals and Dollars, accompanied by labels referring to the actual pieces.
REALDOLLAR traces a parallel between the inequality of exchange both in terms of currency and culture.
Free Trade Zone:
The public is invited to relax by listening to music selections that alternate between Brazilian musicians playing U.S. music and vice versa (including a good number of Girl from Ipanema). Music includes:
Jorge Benjor, Carlinhos Brown, Adriana Calcanhoto, Djavan, Cássia Eller, Celso Fonseca, Tom Jobim, Bebel Gilberto, João Gilberto, Marisa Monte, Tim Maia, Carmem Miranda, Jaques Morelenbaum, Paula Morelenbaum, Paulo Moura, Os Mutantes, Olodum, Hermeto Pascoal, Skank, Caetano Veloso and others.
Chet Baker, Count Basie, David Birney, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Everything But the Girl, Art Garfunkel, Stan Getz, Lena Horn, Kiri Te Kanawa, Arto Lindsay, Oscar Peterson, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Cassandra Wilson and others.
Art History in Translation:
A video was created for JEMA, which uses the currency exchange of when the project started (4 Reals for 1 Dollar) as an editing device. A reading of important art historical texts from Brazil is shown twice and truncated (first with 1 word out of 4, and then with 3 words out of 4: complementary but unintelligible). The choice of texts by artists and art critics amounts to a virtual history of Brazilian art in the XX century (Oswald de Andrade, Mário Pedrosa, Ferreira Gullar, Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Cildo Meireles and Leonilson. The result is a truncated, distorted account of Brazilian art. The video begins with the following text:
“A generation ago, the prospect of a Socialist admirer of Fidel Castro coming to power here would have provoked American support for a military coup.
Brazilian stocks, bonds and the national currency, the real, oscillated widely in nervous trading today, amid continued concerns about the outcome of Brazil's coming presidential election.
And Goldman, Sachs seems to have distanced itself from a report its strategists released earlier this year using a ''Lulameter'' to measure risks associated with Mr. da Silva's chances of becoming president.
Brazil's country risk, as measured by the premium it must pay on capital markets over United States Treasury bills, has soared to over 2,100, making Brazil, on paper at least, a riskier bet than Nigeria.
On the very eve of the election, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill went so far as to state that "Lula will have to prove he isn't crazy."
Mr. da Silva…has criticized market analysts for engaging in ''economic terrorism,''
Some economists expect investors to punish the real if Mr. Silva wins, pushing it down as low as four to the dollar.”
The New York Times, 2002