Videobrasil opens a perspective of the South

October 2003 -

To offer video artists in the southern hemisphere a platform for their work. That is the objective of Videobrasil, the largest electronic art festival in Latin America.

Lebanese video artist Akram Zaakari: "We see more of the West than the West sees of us. The only way to break through the clichés is to show people how hybrid and complex we are." But even in the Arabian world his work is scarcely shown. This double challenge: adjusting the folkloristic image of non-western countries and strengthening the art circuit of the Southern hemisphere - exactly reflects the mission of Videobrasil, the video festival being held in the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo from 22 September to 19 October.

Virtually all of the sixty artists work in the southern hemisphere. The festival's theme, Deslocamentos ('dislodgings'), runs through their videos and works, reflecting the tension between the virtual freedom of the internet and the other side of globalisation: nationalism, marginalisation and conflicts. 'When I first visited the Middle East in 1999, I started to think about this issue,' says Solange Farkas, curator and festival director. 'Artists have no time for unimportant matters. They are consumed by their mission: saving their identity. Here in Brazil, we have a special kind of civil war, between the rich and the poor. But many artists prefer to isolate themselves in their own universe.'

Solange Farkas, festival director and curator of Videobrasil

With Videobrasil, celebrating its 20th birthday, Farkas therefore hopes to bridge the gap between her country and the rest of the world. 'If you have no point of reference, it is difficult to grow,' she says. 'The best thing about globalisation is that it puts people into contact with one another. You no longer need to travel to meet people or view works of art. You can do it by cable. It is also fantastic that the various cultures can be recognised in the videos more than ever before. People do not want to be like everyone else. They strive to strengthen their uniqueness. This enables them to retain local culture. The responsibility of the festival is to open roads to genuinely seeing one another'.