b. 1967, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Tamar Guimarães was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1967. She received a BFA in fine arts from Goldsmiths College, London (2002); an MFA from Konsthögskolan i Malmö, Sweden (2007); and an MA in art theory from Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi, København, Denmark (2009). She also participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, as a Studio Fellow (2007–08) and acted as a research curator for the Guangzhou Triennial (2008), to which she also contributed her artwork.
Guimarães’s body of work in video, sound, and installation uses found and manufactured elements to question dominant histories of modernism. She manipulates appropriated imagery with an intensity that mimics sociological method and questions the staging of history, revisiting neglected figures and events in order to elucidate current social and political issues. Mining Brazilian and global histories for the subjects of her aesthetic inquiries, Guimarães conducts research and hosts discussions before transforming her ideas into tangible artworks, pairing found subjects and facts with her own conclusions. Often, her artworks undertake a kind of introspective investigation while facilitating new ways of looking at society. Her slide presentation A Man Called Love (2009), for example, details the life and work of Brazilian psychic medium Francisco Candido Xavier, who “transcribed” some four hundred books purportedly dictated to him by the dead. Guimarães looks beyond Xavier’s sensationalist appeal to examine the ways in which his writings endorsed the conservative views of labor and subservience promulgated by the ruling class of the concurrent Brazilian military dictatorship of 1964 to 1985.
Likewise, Guimarães’s film Canoas (2011) speaks directly to the social and class structures that at times go unremembered within the history of modernism. The work follows a fictive festive evening at the historic home Casa das Canoas (built in 1951), a touchstone of Brazilian architecture designed by Oscar Niemeyer to coexist seamlessly with the jungle around the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. Rather than lauding the utopian ideals of midcentury modernism, the film presents the point of view of the home’s servants; guests’ overheard conversations illuminate the failure of modernism’s egalitarian precepts to level the differences between the labor and leisure classes. In Guimarães’s work, historical narratives are meant to project lessons onto the present, pointing to the fluidity of fact in a society where information is filtered and classified by a privileged elite.
Guimarães’s work has been exhibited at the Guangzhou Triennial (2008); Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2008); Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (2009); Nordisk Konsttriennal at the Eskilstuna Konstmuseum, Sweden (2010); São Paulo Biennial (2010); and Venice Biennale (2013). She has had solo exhibitions at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2009); Artspace Sydney (2010); Gasworks, London (2011); and the Århus Kunstbygning, Denmark (2012). Her work was nominated for the Premio Investidor Profissional Art Prize (PIPA) in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Guimarães lives and works in Copenhagen.