In manuscripts left by Hélio Oiticica and held in the archives of Project H.O., Oiticica added to his signature "13 March 1973, date of Cosmococa's creation". Oiticica left detailed notes for the work's further development, and he called these notes "Cosmococa Program-in-Progress". The notes called for public and private installations, the printing of photographs and posters, and publishing a book about the series.
This coming March 13, exactly 30 years later, Project H.O. is inaugurating a show of photographs that have never been seen by the public, "Momentos Frames Cosmococa", in Galeria Fortes Vilaça in São Paulo. The photographs in the exhibition, fruit of the partnership between Oiticica and the film director Neville d´Almeida, combine references to pop culture, underground films of the 1960's, and philosophy.
The gallery will be showing 163 images divided into two parts. The first part contains the photographs from the series "CC1 – Trashiscapes", "CC2 – Onobject", and "CC3 – Maileryn". Book jackets, record covers, and newspapers mix with everyday objects from Oiticica's New York loft, creating images with a tremendous visual impact. D'Almeida and Oiticica developed this work together during two trips that the film director made to New York in 1973. In a reversal of their typical artistic activities, d'Almeida drew over the chosen objects while Oiticica took photographs.
"Trashiscapes" shows a photograph of a cover of The New York Times Magazine with the film director Luiz Buñuel; in "Onobject" the cover of the book Grapefruit, by Yoko Ono, is mixed with that of What is a Thing?, by Martin Heiddeger; in "Maileryn" we see the cover of the biography of Marilyn Monroe, written by Norman Mailer. These iconic images of Marilyn, Yoko Ono, and Buñuel are modified by drawings made with lines of cocaine. In the words of Waly Salomão: "Cosmococa is the plethora of language. An intersemiotic construction of sequences of images that acquire meaning by unleashing a series of references, projected or explicit, that they cite, appropriate, parody, and generally transform".
The second part of the exhibition, also at Fortes Vilaça, will be on display from April 25 to May 17. It features the series CC4 Nocagions and CC5 HendrixWar with illustrations from, respectively, the cover of John Cage's book Notations and the cover of Jimi Hendrix's record War Heroes.
Many critics assert that "Cosmococa" is Oiticica's most transgressive work, the final stage in the evolution of the artist's entire body of work, joining a formal emphasis on the search for atmosphere and sensorality with questions of performance, photography, and cinema.
"Cosmococas" have already been seen in the U.S., Germany, and England. Last year Project H.O. devoted itself to the international tour of the retrospective "Quasi-Cinema", curated by Carlos Basualdo (Documenta XI). It was inaugurated in the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, Ohio), before travelling to the Kölnisher Kunstverein (Cologne) and the White Chapel Gallery (London). The tour's final stop was the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York) in July 2002. The critic Mario Pedrosa has called Oiticica "the world's first post-modern artist", and this exhibition reaffirms that today Oiticica is internationally recognized as one of the greatest creative talents of the second half of the twentieth century.
"Quasi-Cinema" had enormous repercussions in the international press. The exhibition made the cover of ArtForum last February, earned front page treatment in the art section of the New York Times in August, and received enthusiastic reviews in Art in America, Time Out/New York and I-D Magazine. The weekly Time Out chose the retrospective as one of the ten best exhibitions of the year in New York.
This year Project H.O. is devoting itself to Brazil. In addition to the show at Galeria Fortes Vilaça, Project H.O. is sponsoring two more exhibitions that will facilitate easier access to the work of this Brazilian artist in his native land. Five "Cosmococas" (two of which will have their world premiere) will be exhibited at the Pinacoteca, the state art museum of São Paulo; and the Hélio Oiticica Art Center has also scheduled a retrospective of the artist's work for the first half of the year, in Rio de Janeiro. A bilingual book with approximately 200 images will be published, with facsimiles of the artist's notebooks about "Cosmococa", as well as illustrations from the five installations and the 163 photographs shown in the installations. The book will be launched in May.