Artists ‘Invade’ Deserted São Paulo Hospital

Beatriz Milhazes and Vik Muniz among those who have creatively overrun the site.

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Joana Vasconcelos
Tony Oursler
Rochelle Costi
Per Barclay
Naziha Mestaoui
Barry McGee
Jean-Michel Othoniel
Joana Vasconcelos
Jack Pierson
Héctor Zamora
Jean-Luc Favéro
Daniel de Paula
Dora Longo Bahia
Marcelo Jácome
Paulo Nimer Pjota
Wang Du

A crumbling neoclassical structure has new life. Once a thriving institution in the heart of São Paulo, Brazil, the long-neglected rooms, hallways, and gardens of the old Umberto Primo Hospital, known as Hospital Matarazzo, have been overtaken with a cheerier purpose. “Made by Brazilians…Creative Invasion,” an exhibition of work by both local and international artists that opens today, aims to bring life back to the old hospital, an historic site that ushered in the births of a half-million “Paulistas” (as people from São Paulo are known).

Curated by Marc Pottier, the show brings together 50 Brazilian artists and 50 international artists in a celebration of the revitalization of the space as a cultural center and a piece of São Paulo’s heritage. The exhibition also includes special projects curated by Nadja Romain, Simon Watson, Gabriela Maciel, Andre Sheik, the “Invisible Museum,” Pascal Pique, Baixo Ribeiro, and the third Bahia Biennale.

Works by Brazilian hotshots Beatriz Milhazes and Vik Muniz occupy the dilapidated rooms. There are also works by such internationally renowned artists as Joana Vasconcelos, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Tony Oursler, and Wang Du.

It’s a sprawling exhibition within several buildings, including a chapel that houses a stunning, surreal Vasconcelos installation made of fabric and lights. Most of the works engage with the tortured spirit of the site, and you’ll find yourself peeking into rooms and turning one corner after another in curiosity.

Wang Du’s contribution is a quiet intervention: bundles of periodicals that he’s crammed into various niches throughout a building. Indeed, the majority of the works in this exhibition register as unobtrusively as Wang’s.

Héctor Zamora transformed a courtyard by strewing it with palm trees in broken pots. An accompanying video shows the performance that created the installation; it speaks to the pillage of the entire country.

The buildings have been acquired by Groupe Allard, which, with the help of Jean Nouvel and Philippe Starck, will turn the site into a creative center. Starck will be working on the architecture and interiors. But don’t think this will be another McCondo; Nouvel and Starck aim to preserve its historic character.

“Made by Brazilians…Creative Invasion” is on view at Hospital Matarazzo, Alameda Rio Claro, 190, Bela Vista, São Paulo, Brazil, September 6–October 10, 2014.

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