Mira Schendel: A Conversation with Curator Tanya Barson & Dr. Michael Asbury

Open Lecture


Mira Schendel, her work and the current Retrospective at Tate Modern
Tanya Barson in conversation with Michael Asbury

Schendel was born in Zurich in 1919, but following her parents separation, moved early on in life to Milan with her mother. Of Jewish origin, she fled to Bulgaria in 1941 in order to escape the onslaught of fascism. She arrived in Porto Alegre the most Southern state of Brazil in 1949 when she began making art, later moving to São Paulo in 1953.
Her work evades art historical paradigms and challenges our understanding of the development of avant-garde practices in Brazil from mid-20th century onwards. As an artist she emerged at a moment in which the abstract and constructivist-oriented avant-gardes were thriving in Brazil and despite establishing friendships and intellectual relationships with many of the principle protagonists within these strands, such as the art critic Mario Schenberg, the poet Haroldo de Campos and the philosopher Vilen Flusser she never adhered to any particular movement.
This conversation will focus on the premises behind the curatorial project for her current retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern as a means of asserting the international significance that Mira Schendel clearly deserves.

Tanya Barson is Curator of International Art at Tate Modern. She is co-curator of the forthcoming Mira Schendel retrospective exhibition organised by Tate Modern and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Brazil. She has curated exhibitions including Frida Kahlo, Tate Modern (2005), Inverting the Map: Latin American Art from the Tate Collection, Tate Liverpool (2006), Oiticica in London, Tate Modern (2007), Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic, Tate Liverpool (2010) and The Peripatetic School: Itinerant Drawing from Latin America, the Drawing Room, London (2011).

Michael Asbury is a British/Brazilian art historian, critic and curator. He is a Reader and Deputy Director of the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN) at the University of the Arts London (UAL). He has curated and written extensively on Brazilian modern and contemporary art.

Related Projects

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    TrAIN Open Series

    The TrAIN Open series is a forum for invited speakers to present exhibition, publication, and research projects in the form of lectures, discussions and screenings.

    Taking place at fortnightly intervals on Wednesday evenings during the academic term, the series is open to the public, as well as staff and students across the University of the Arts London.
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Related People

  • Tanya Barson

    Guest Speaker - 2004

    Tanya Barson joined Tate in 1997 as one of a team of curators focusing on contemporary (post-1960) art, working principally on acquisitions and on the opening displays of the permanent collection at Tate Modern in 2000.

    In 2001 she co-curated the Turner Prize exhibition.
    Find out more about Tanya Barson

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    Dr. Michael Asbury

    TrAIN Management Board Member - Deputy Director

    I was born in Teresópolis, in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, the son of British missionaries. After twenty years in Brazil I came to England to study engineering but fortunately to myself (and others) changed course and went on to complete an MA in The Study of Contemporary Art at Liverpool University and a PhD in the History and Theory of Art at The London Institute (now UAL).
    Find out more about Dr. Michael Asbury