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TO JAN. 6, 2002
Beauty and violence dance in disconcerting concert in “Virgin Territory: Women, Gender, and History in Contemporary Brazilian Art” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The show is part of an international celebration of the 500th anniversary of Brazil’s discovery by the Portuguese and serves as a companion piece to the “Brazil” show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, as well as being one of 27 exhibits (this year) worldwide to explore Brazilian culture and art. The 70-plus works on view by 25 of Brazil’s best-known modern and postmodern artists range from paintings and sculpture to installations, film, and new media. For better and for worse, the show’s postmodern, postcolonial, feminist politics gives the exhibit a bit of the feeling of the hyperpolitical 1993 Whitney Biennial: Nazareth Pacheco’s installation of delicate, feminine Victorian necklaces is constructed from traditional materials, such as crystal beads and cut stonesset next to razor blades, fish hooks, and surgical needles. Adriana Varejão’s Figura de Convite (“Entrance Figure,” pictured) is a model of a Portuguese-style painted-tile entryway depicting a welcoming and allegorical Americauntil you notice that the Amerindian figures in the background are eating human body parts. Varejão’s Testemunhas Oculares X, Y, e Z (“Eyewitnesses X, Y, + Z”) is a triptych of colonial-style portraits of a white woman, an Indian woman, and a mulattoeach with one eye replaced by a gashlike red wound; questions about the violence of conquest and legacy of colonialism and Spanish-inflected machismo culture abound. Also featured: feminine sexuality and the body as territory, so you’d better brush up on your bell hooks. “Virgin Territory: Women, Gender, and History in Contemporary Brazilian Art” is on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, to Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW. $5. (202) 783-5000. (Garance Franke-Ruta)