Fearful of authoritarianism and persecution by the military regime yet dis-
illusioned with the dogmatic tone of the orthodox left, visual artists living
and working in Brazil under the military dictatorship during the late 1960s
and early 1970s forged new ways of producing and displaying their work.
At the time, the country’s intellectual milieu was itself at a crossroads, en-
tangled in debate over the role art should play in a society marked by social
and political divisions. Prior to the military coup d’état, in 1964, the de-
cade had started with artists favoring programs oriented toward national-
popular themes—such as, the Centros Populares de Cultura, a project
focused on fostering culture in slums, factories, and universities—and pro-
moting a populist revolutionary art.
By the late 1960s and early 1970s a shift had taken place, with many art-
ists and intellectuals now seeking a means of cultural production that was
somehow ethically and politically significant but not necessarily national-
istic or ideologically oriented. They were criticized from all sides: the left
accused them of being elitists lacking a social commitment to grass- roots
cultural production, while the right labeled them rebels sowing the seeds
of communism throughout the country. Suspicious of the predominant dis-
course on both the left and the right, this new group of young, rebellious
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