In the curatorial program of MAC USP, the 7th and 6th floors are dedicated to the exhibition of its permanent collection. In this exhibition, visitors can understand the main characteristics of the collection, which, in turn, can be revisited and updated considering contemporary issues and themes. The exhibition lasts for five years and allows the Museum to fulfill its university role, by becoming an environment for education at various levels and critical debates on the history of visual arts.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of MAC USP, the new exhibition proposes a reflection on what works and what artists of the collection tell about the historical-political-social experience of the 20th and 21st centuries in Brazil. In this itinerary, the very formation of the collection is critically embedded in this narrative.
The exhibition, conceived by a group of six curators, in dialogue with an advisory committee, presents three guiding axes that are interconnected in seven groupings of works, divided into the two exhibition floors. These axes, in a way, sew the various parts of it: the institutionalization of the Museum, art as a collective experience, and art as a subjective experience. Among the three axes, only one of them is identified by a different signage: the institutional axis, which is nothing more than the set of 13 works donated by the American magnate Nelson Rockefeller for the creation of modern art museums in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. This donation was considered the initial basis of the collections of the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo (MAM SP), transferred to USP in 1963—giving birth to MAC USP. The other two axes are guided, respectively, by collective experiences (political struggles and social movements) in the history of the last 150 years and by subjective experiences, such as the relations between the self and others. The seven groupings are: Unconscious (not) free, Cold War, Resistance, and Exodus (7th floor); and Portrait, Appropriation, and Violence (6th floor). They express how these collective or subjective experiences are conveyed in the MAC USP collection.
Visitors will see that some works and/or sets of works present a QR Code on their labels that leads to short texts on these propositions.
Finally, the exhibition borrows its title from the collection of essays by historian Eric Hobsbawm, published in 2013, a year after the death of this intellectual who survived two world wars and saw the rise of totalitarian regimes on the European continent. Hobsbawm’s life was marked by exile and he always faced the arduous task of enquiring about the future.