Janaina Wagner works across video, photography, scenography, drawing and installations. Her work aims to present a critical understanding of the ways in which humans impose systems of order and control upon their surroundings. Through the appropriation of history as presented through various forms of media, Wagner considers how notions of progress and legacy are articulated through a constellation of tales, facts, images and memories.
Her ongoing research, entitled Oral fictions and the dismantled reality of the Anthropocene: the Curupira, investigates deforestation in Brazil and the blurring boundaries between fiction and reality through the figure of the Curupira, a mythological figure of Brazil that lives in and protects the forests.
During her residency at Gasworks, Wagner has continued working on the release of her latest film, Curupira e a máquina do destino (2021). She has been researching the history and visual representations of the Year Without a Summer, a phenomenon in 1816 of severe climate abnormalities caused by a series of volcanic eruptions. This research will inform her new project, Red sky, black sun, a science fiction-inspired documentary situated in the present. The main character of the film is a Nellore, a breed of cattle that is now the most industrialised and exported livestock of Brazil - the largest exporter of red meat of the planet.
Following on from her research on Frankenstein, and reflecting on the crossings of Melancholy and Solastalgia, Wagner has also been researching the artistic and political movement of Romanticism, as a cultural expression of revolt and revolution against the ideology of modern progress. In a society based on standardisation and commodified relationships, Romanticism represents the revolt of the repressed, channeled and distorted.
On the occasion of her open studios Janaina has made some of her recent video work available to view online:
CURUPIRA E A MÁQUINA DO DESTINO
Documentary-Fiction | 24'40'' | DCP | Color | 16:09 | Brazil - France | 2021
Filmed in Amazonas, Brazil, on the roads Estrada Fantasma (Phantom Road) BR-319, Transamazônica BR-230 and in the real village of Realidade (Reality), “Curupira and the machine of the destiny” is the encounter in the present time between the creature curupira, protectress of the forests of Brazil, and the incarnated ghost of Iracema, a 14-year-old prostitute, fictional character in the film “Iracema - uma transa amazônica” (1974, Jorge Bodanzky and Orlando Senna). Iracema’s ghost sets out on her quest at the crossroads of the straight roads of Amazonas to find curupira and avenge the future. Curupira e a máquina do destino films the reality of 2021 Brazil and the ravage of Amazônia forest, shaped in the form of cattle, wood and soya. It is a portrait of the cyclical history and story of Brazil in favour of a so called progress. The Phantom Road is a scar that cuts through the earth, opened like a wound during the civic-military dictatorship that ensnared Brazil in the cries of order and progress. The asphalt rebar BR-319 that sticks the country was built, destroyed and is now drowning in a process of reconstruction. Warm ruin of an addicted future.
Janaina Wagner lives and works between Paris and São Paulo. Her recent solo exhibitions include: With burning love, Villa Belleville, Paris (2018); Floresta, Museu do Esquilo, Ibiuna (2017); Criatura, Oficina Cultural Oswald Andrade, São Paulo (2016); Decupagem/ Crônica de um final anunciado, Museu de Arte de Ribeirão Preto (2015).
Recent group exhibitions include: A natural history of ruins, Pivô, São Paulo (2021); Simultan Festival XV, Unseen, Timisoara; Emma Goldman Anarchist Film Festival, New York City; Casa Carioca, MAR Museu de Arte do Rio de Janeiro; Curupira, O Turvo Journal publication, São Paulo; The Vampire Squid From Hell, Hot-Bed, Philadelphia (all 2020); Começo de Século, Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo; The Vampire Squid from Hell, Various Small Fires, Los Angeles; International Conference on Landscape and Cinema, Universidade de Letras de Lisboa; BIT - Biennale de l’Image Tangible, Plateforme, Paris; 10 Semana de Cinema, Rio de Janeiro; NES Artist Residency - 10 years alumni video exhibition, Skagaströnd; Festival Mondes Possibles, Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers, Paris; TRELA, Ateliê 397, São Paulo; and Insitution, Festival Hors Piste, Centre Pompidou, Paris (all 2018).
Janaina Wagner’s residency is supported by Gasworks’ Brazilian Residency Patrons’ Circle and she is hosted in the Roberts Residency Studio.