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Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca: Swinguerra

MEP - Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris

Wed 10 Nov 2021 to Sun 16 Jan 2022

Artists: Bárbara Wagner - Benjamin de Burca

Exhibited to great critical acclaim in the Brazilian Pavilion of the 2019 Venice Biennale, Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca’s film-installation Swinguerra is presented for the first time in Paris at the MEP studio.

At once seductive, powerful and challenging, Swinguerra marks a new level of international success for Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca, in their ongoing analysis of the relationships between popular forms of music and dance, and questions of social and gender identity.

Working first with local singers and MCs, and subsequently dancers and choreographers in Recife, Brazil, where both artists have been based for many years, their joint practice speaks to urgent questions of inclusion, acceptance and most importantly the dignity and self-assurance of the subjects with whom they collaborate to produce their films. Swinguerra, as the title suggests, proposes a kind of battle or dance-off between three groups of mostly non-binary dancers, within which the audience takes a central role, positioned physically between the two screens that make up the installation. Somewhere between documentation of real physical and creative skill and a incredible performance imagined purely for the camera, Swinguerra is both an interrogation and a celebration of charismatic personalities and creative energies that are too often considered marginal by mainstream culture. Bringing together the life and rhythms of Brazilian street music and culture from the point of view of the LGBTQ+ and transgender communities, Swinguerra has been both controversial and critically successful in a country with a hardline conservative political elite that has sought to downplay questions of social inclusion. Swinguerra stands proudly for an alternative vision of Brazil - young, confident and brash - that refuses to be limited by over-determined categories of gender, race and class.

In a collaborative practice begun in 2011, Bárbara Wagner (born in 1980 in Brazil) and Benjamin de Burca (born in 1975 in Germany) have been creating video and installation works that blur the lines between fiction and documentary. Their experimental films call cultural forms and categories into question, deconstructing and reframing them in order to reflect their porous and shifting nature.

Works by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca have been shown in numerous international exhibitions, including those at the Stedelijk, Amsterdam (2019), the Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2019) and the York Art Gallery, Toronto (2018). They have also participated in major group exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale (2019), the Skulptur Projekte, Münster (2017), and the São Paulo Biennial (2016).

Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca, Swinguerra, 2019. Courtesy of the artists and Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, Sao Paulo/ Rio de Janeiro.

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