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Letícia Parente: Embodying New Media Art Strategies in 1970s Brazil

Pardo Gaviria, Paulina (2020) Letícia Parente: Embodying New Media Art Strategies in 1970s Brazil. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines the oeuvre of Brazilian artist Letícia Parente (1930–1991) as a lens into artistic networks in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo that opened space for discourses of dissent against Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964–1985). Parente was a tenured chemistry professor in northeastern Brazil who, supported by artistic collective efforts, seized on new image reproduction technologies between 1974 and 1982 to emerge and establish herself as a contemporary artist at a time of social and political oppression. This dissertation tells the story of Parente’s intellectual journey, tracing her transition from the chemistry laboratories of the Universidade Federal do Ceará in Fortaleza in the 1960s, to the experimental curatorial program of the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro in 1976, to the cosmopolitan art galleries of the 1981 São Paulo Biennial. An analysis of Parente’s practice offers insights into the networks of artists, critics, and curators who composed Brazil’s 1970s art world, contributing to a historiography of exhibitions and criticism in Brazil.

This dissertation, the first sustained study of Parente’s works in any language, demonstrates how the specifics of 1970s Brazil’s political and artistic context provoked Parente to position her work at the intersection of advocacy for women’s rights, scientific paradigms, and new technologies. Each chapter examines the strategies Parente developed in video, Xerox, installation, and mail art, respectively, and addresses how she incorporated her body in each of them as an effective (and affective) way to express her multi-layered concerns about the restrictions of social and political life in dictatorial Brazil. The progression follows how, in the wake of Brazil’s anos de chumbo (leaden years, 1969–74), Parente entered the Rio de Janeiro art world via her use of video; experimented with Xerox and collage as a way to express and participate in feminist global tendencies; achieved national recognition with her most complex work, Medida (Measurement, 1976); and, finally, positioned herself within international currents of contemporary art through her participation in the São Paulo Biennial during the periods of relaxation and opening that anticipated Brazil’s return to democracy.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pardo Gaviria,
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairJosten,
Committee MemberMcCloskey,
Committee MemberSmith,
Committee MemberShtromberg,
Date: 16 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 July 2020
Approval Date: 16 September 2020
Submission Date: 12 August 2020
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 247
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Modern and contemporary art of the Americas; History of art from Brazil; Letícia Parente; chemistry; video art; Xerox art; mail art; installation art
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 14:42
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2022 05:15


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