The group exhibition The Sun’s Path is organized by Gomide&Co in collaboration with the curator Yudi Rafael and the researcher and artist Roberto Okinaka. Bringing together approximately forty artists, the show highlights art narratives linked to the Japanese diaspora in Latin America. It presents a selection of works produced by Japanese-diasporic artists alongside Latin-American artists whose practices are influenced by Japanese visual cultures, as well as local cultural and political references.1
The Sun’s Path can be seen as a continuation of a series of exhibitions organized by Gomide&Co around themes related to Latin America in parallel with the São Paulo Biennial. In 2018, the gallery presented Conceptual Strategies, a group show featuring a selection of works with links to conceptual art that were produced in the South American continent during dictatorial regimes. In 2021, it was the turn of Our North is the South, which showcased a collection of ancestral textile pieces dated from the pre-Columbian period, which were in conversation with Concrete, Neo-Concrete and contemporary works from Latin America.
The Sun’s Path unfolds precisely at a historical moment when diasporic movements have become central to the understanding of our turbulent present. As boundaries are being blurred by unquenchable financial flows, xenophobic forms of nationalism are spreading globally, resulting in situations marked by a regressive desire for separation. Myriad landscapes made of walls, fences, and surveilled borders produce an obtuse incision that says: us, here, others, there. In turn, this communion based on sameness activates a sectarian pursuit influenced by ideas of purity and exclusion and whose symptoms include the rejection of the figure of the foreigner.
It is in this context that Gomide&Co, that celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2023, draws attention to what the dynamics of a diaspora addresses. If, on the one hand, it seems crucial to single out the many different diasporas as events with their own unique features, on the other hand, it is certainly possible to establish common trends. Their triggers have included violent situations of conflict, such as wars and political, religious, or ethnic persecutions. However, although these flows originate from macropolitical episodes, what we witness at the other end – meaning the arrival in a new land – are consequences of micropolitical dimensions of experience. It is the life of each individual, in its most prosaic sense, that is affected by the diasporic displacement. Housing, work, food, friends, climate, language – the fabric of daily life – is abruptly changed. Also abrupt is the transit of those who arrive as minority groups and quickly receive the status of the other.2 Within this often traumatic context, there are many processes triggered as ways to build new links that can launch a new life.
But even though each single existence is modified by the diasporic chasm, any possibility of rebuilding links must happen collectively. It is not by chance that the notion of culture is so important here. The etymology of “culture” evokes the term “colo”, which in Latin means “I live, I cultivate”. As such, the collective and gregarious gesture of cultivating the place of arrival becomes seminal.
In this sense, it is worth recalling how the history of Japanese-diasporic artists in Brazil is closely linked to the solidary and collective power that marked the trajectory of Seibi-Kai, a central axis of The Sun’s Path. Also known as the Seibi Group, the Seibi-Kai was an artistic association founded by Tomoo Handa in São Paulo in 1935. Throughout its history, it welcomed members such as Manabu Mabe, Tomie Ohtake, and Massao Okinaka. Its foundation act states the following goal: “to establish a link with painters from Brazil or other nations and their studios”3 – an original mission that highlights the importance of connecting with alterity, which signals an openness to exchange, to alignment, to an entanglement with the outside, embracing precisely that which emerges from the encounter with difference.
Through Seibi-Kai, we have a fine example of the importance of relationships marked by porosity, reminding us of how the field of art can be fertile when it comes to evoking different ways of forming communities. At its core, The Sun’s Path can be seen as the entanglement of multiple voices and cultures, an attempt to imagine a more polyphonic and therefore more compassionate world.
[Artistic Director Gomide&co]
1 Conversations with curator Marilia Loureiro were important for the writing of this text. The text found its way thanks to this exchange. I recommend as well her essay “Captura e fuga: notas para imaginar espaços-refúgio”. In De montanhas submarinas o fogo faz ilhas, Pivô / Kadist, 2022.
2 On the place of the “other” in the current contemporary art debate and the importance of “disothering” see “Disothering as method (LEH ZO, A ME KE NDE ZA)”, by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung. In Catálogo da 21 Bienal Sesc Vídeo Brasil_Comunidades imaginadas, curated by Solange Farkas, Gabriel Bogossian, Luisa Duarte, and Miguel López, Editora Sesc, São Paulo, 2019.
3 See “Grupo Seibi: o nascimento da pintura nipo-brasileira”, Paulo Roberto Arruda de Menezes, Revista USP (27), 1995, pg. 105.