Parangolé is a slang Portuguese term which translates into a spectrum of ideas and events related to “idleness, a sudden agitation, an unexpected situation, or a dance party.”(1) Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) created textile based structures designed to be worn and activated by the wearer. Oiticica attempted to transgress the structures of class in is native Brazil by moving to the Mangueira favela (2) and joining  the Mangueira Samba School- the oldest Samba school in Rio de Janeiro. Oiticica’s parangolé objects were inspired by the processionals produced by  organizations like the Mangueira samba school. The first parangolés that he created were performed by and for the members of this community.

Caetano Veloso wearing one of Hélio Oiticica's Parangolés

Though Hélio Oiticica produced the bulk of his Parangolés between 1964 – 1968, years after Sun Ra had developed his theatrical strategies, there are a peculiar collisions between  what I speculate to be some of the reasoning for producing disruptions, or sudden agitations though textiles and performance.  For the 1965 opening and first public showing of the parangolés, Hélio Oiticica invited his colleagues form the Mangueira Samba school to activate the parangolés in the Museum of Art in Rio.  “The irruption of the poor into the bourgeois atmosphere of the museum caused such a scandal that the director had them evicted.” (1)

Mangueira resident perfomring in an Oiticica Parangolé

After settling in New York in 1961, the energy of the city activated Sun Ra into the habit of wearing his performance regalia of capes, metallic fibers, and caps with antennas on the street as his regular day wear.  If a stranger stopped him to ask him what his deal was, he would share his extraterrestrial identity and something of his origin “equations.”(3)  Escaping a dictatorial regime, Hélio Oiticica lived in New York from 1971 to 1978. During this time he produced as series of works through which he seemed to turn inward but which were no less experimental and physically experiential. He transformed his apartment into his studio and dubbed it “Babylonest.”

Both Sun Ra, and Hélio Oiticica refused to separate the body from their conceptual and creative production. With his parangolés, Hélio Oiticica creates a space in which “ in which everyone can count himself/herself as belonging, and can act collectively simply by wearing such textile creations and by dancing and demonstrating.” (5) Sun Ra’s Arkestra invites all participants, those on the stage playing instruments, and those in the audience receiving this cosmological music-based messages to fully immerse themselves and get on board the Ark.

In developing the Solar Flare Arkestral Marching Band, I made the leap to the idea of a flash mob marching band before I had the conceptual underpinnings to understand why, indeed, these protests / parties had to have music, had to provoke the body into movement and had to take place in communities that are relatively invisible and consistently neglected by society and  government. The uncanny affinities between these two artists, not the least of which is their names, has become a part of the buttress that supports the production modalities of this residency.
I hope to use this blog as an archive for the many links, relationships, affinities, and models that are informing this project. Please visit again, and please do comment to share leads and ideas.

1 – “Tactile Dematerialization, Sensory Politics: Helio Oiticica’s Parangolés. Art Journal. June 22, 2004, Dezeuze, Anna.
2 – “Living Colour. Vincent Katz on Helio Oiticia.” http://www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/issue10/helio_livingcolour.htm
3 – Space is the Place by John F. Szwed.
4 -Hélio Oiticica. Frieze Magazine. Issue 64, January-February 2002
5 – Anna Schober. Hélio Oiticica’s Parangolés: Body-Events, Participation in the Anti-Doxa of the Avant-Garde and Struggling Free from It. profs.lettere.univr.it/schober/Schober.pdftab=iw

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