“I always play with my origins” – interview with Berna Reale

By Rejane Cintrão - Thursday, February 12, 2015
“I always play with my origins” – interview with Berna Reale

Berna Reale was born in 1965 in Belém, city located in the State of Pará in North Brazil. Recently invited by Luis Camilo Osorio and Cauê Alves to exhibit at the Brazilian Pavillion in the next Biennale de Venezia, she is one of the most prominent Brazilian artists at the moment.

“I always play with my origins” – interview with Berna Reale

Berna Reale was born in 1965 in Belém, city located in the State of Pará in North Brazil.  Recently invited by Luis Camilo Osorio and Cauê Alves to exhibit at the Brazilian Pavillion in the next Biennale de Venezia, she is one of the most prominent Brazilian artists at the moment.  Her works will also be present in the next Panorama da Arte Brasileira, to be presented at the MAM São Paulo, curated by Aracy Amaral and Paulo Myada.

She studied fine arts at the Universidade Federal do Pará and participated in many group exhibitions, in Brazil and Europe such as: Biennial of Cerveira (Vila Nova de Cerveira, Portugal, 2005); Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts (Liège, Belgium, 2006); Rumos, at Itau Cultural (São Paulo, 2011) “From Margin to the Edge” at Somerset House (London, UK, 2012) “Talvez” (Maybe), at Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon, Portugal, 2014), among others. She was listed on a British site as one of the most creative artists of the last Art Basel Miami and recently presented her solo exhibition entitled “Vapor”(Stream) at Galeria Milan in São Paulo.

Limit Zero, 2012, courtesy Berna Reale

Reale became a criminal expert at Centro de Perícias Científicas do Estado do Pará (Scientific Criminal Studies of Pará State), having a privileged perspective of different situations of crime and social conflict, since her focus has been in violence recently. Her performances and installations are planned to create a “noise” that stimulates reflection. Travelling around Russia for research at the moment, Berna answered our questions by email.

Rejane Cintrão: Belém is a wonderful city with colors and forms that we can only find there. It has a very particular culture.  How do you think living in this city affects your work? Do you think it would be the same if you lived elsewhere? Why?

Berna Reale: I believe that being in a place you know many people and many different ways of getting things facilitates the performance artist, who doesn’t have money or sponsors. I can’t imagine myself riding a red horse (PALOMO) in Russia, for instance, not because I wouldn’t like it, but mostly because bureaucracy and lack of money wouldn’t allow me.

Palomo, courtesy Berna Reale

RC: Which artists do you believe where important for the development of your work?

BR: Many artists, many images, and I am totally contaminated by everything I see and feel by the time I am expressing about them. Then, I express and talk about them my way, the way I am and I don’t worry if that is different or if it is special. I just do it the way I want and like (laughs)

RC: Like Marina Abramovic’s, your work is very truthful and strong. You expose yourself a lot. How do you prepare yourself for your performances?

BR: I always play with my origins, I am a daughter of a woman born in the Amazon (and here she plays with the word amazon, because in Brazil we call Amazonas the State where she was born and also the Amazonas women), with an mouro Italian, so one can imagine the “bicho brabo” (angry animal) who was born from this marriage (laughs). I believe my way of being has a lot to do with being born in the Amazon forest (have you ever seen anyone who was born in the forest being fake? Or an Italian Moor that doesn’t complain, not wanting always the best, always being unhappy and weeping when he gets emotional (laughs). That is me, it is my nature, being complete in everything and belonging to everywhere.


              The MIth, courtesy Berna Reale

RC: You have been chosen for two very important exhibitions this year: the Panorama da Arte Brasileira (Panorama of Brazilian Art) at the MAM (Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo), curated by Aracy Amaral and Paulo Myada, as well as for representation of the Brazilian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale by Luiz Camilo Osório and Cauê Alves. Are you going to present new works in both of them? Can you give us a hunch?

BR: I am working in new projects for The Panorama of Brazilian Art, which will be happening during next semester. I want to show something new in São Paulo, it is a challenge for me because I have just presented a solo exhibit at Galeria Milan, but I am doing my best to honor the invitation, the space and the public with something unseen. For the Venice Biennale curators are thinking the exhibition over and deciding what they are going to show.

Purple Pink # 10, 2014, courtesy Berna Reale The Woman, courtesy Berna Reale


Well, whatever Berna Realle will present both in Venice and at the MAM will certainly be really strong and unforgettable. I wouldn’t miss it for anything! As Americans would say: “She is the woman”! 

Rejane Cintrão is an independent curator. Between 1993 and 2005, she worked as Executive Curator at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo. In 2010, she curated the exhibition 7SP – Seven artists from São Paulo, presented at CAB (Contemporary Art Brussels) in Belgium. From 2006 to 2010, Rejane created and coordinated the Novos Curadores website. Then, in the period 2010-2014, she conceived and curated numerous exhibitions by Brazilian artists. She is presently working as coordinator at Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz, a private contemporary art institution. Her texts have been included in the following books: Arte Concreta Paulista- Grupo Ruptura (Cosac & Naify, São Paulo, 2001), and Algumas Exposições Exemplares, As Salas de Exposição na São Paulo de 1905 a 1930 (Editora Zouk, Porto Alegre, 2011). Rejane is also founder of Isso é Arte, a company specializing in editorial projects, educational programs, and curatorship.

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