Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca

In the IBB-Video Space

Berlinische Galerie

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© Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca. Cortesia [Courtesy] Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro.

Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca are primarily active in film and photography. There are both documentary and fictional elements in their work. Popular music genres and the role these play for a variety of groups, defining their identity and styling their appearance, are frequent components in research by the artist duo. Videos by Wagner and de Burca use rhythm, lyrics and dance to address issues like visibility, prejudice and cultural phenomena which may seem marginal but are very important in the lives of the people portrayed.

Swinguerra, 2019, 21:00 Min.

The film “Swinguerra” was developed together with dance groups from the outer districts of Recife, far from the centre of economic and political power in the north-east of Brazil. A diverse local pop music scene – ranging from the tradition of festive and religious African rituals to an assimilation of American pop influences – is depicted here through three types of music and dance: swingueira, brega funk and Passinho do Maloka.

In traditional “swingueira”, independent dance groups with up to 50 young members train hard on sports grounds to compete with each other in annual contests. Driven by a need for social integration, these competitions generate an experience of belonging. “Brega funk” evolved out of “swingueira”. The difference is that the dancers perform commercially in night clubs and at concerts with an MC. In “Passinho do Maloka” young people create choreographies for fun and for social media.

Amid the all-pervading political and social tensions around social justice and atonement for the past, this video observes local – but not isolated – conflicts with empathy. The Black male, female and transgender artists featured use dance as a form of resistance. In the country with the world’s highest murder rate for transvestites, transgender people and homosexuals, the protagonists have a chance to be themselves in front of the camera and when they are dancing. “Swinguerra” is a celebration of diversity and a play on two words: the dance movement “swingueira” and the Portuguese word “guerra”, meaning war or struggle.

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