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Ferreira Gullar’s Non-Object, or how Neoconcrete Poetry Became One with the World

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Ferreira Gullar (b. 1930) was fundamental to Neoconcretism, which was an avant-garde movement that took place in Rio de Janeiro from 1959 to the mid-1960s. This movement is a landmark in the history of twentieth-century Brazilian art – in fact, it transformed discourses based on mediumspecificity into early contemporary experiments, whose radicalism and innovation still surprise us. Gullar guided this movement through his poetry, art criticism and curatorial work. Besides him, artists Hércules Barsotti Aluísio Carvão, Amílcar de Castro, Willys de Castro, Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Décio Vieira and Franz Weissmann, as well as poets Reynaldo Jardim and Theon Spanúdis, among others, renewed artistic parameters, and combined traditional media (such as painting and sculpture) with poetry, theater, architecture, dance, book making and graphic design, resulting in an interdisciplinary opening in the artistic field. Gullar’s participation in Neoconcretism has not been fully analyzed yet. This is the consequence of our incipient knowledge of the experimental works, since the academic organization of the fields of literary studies and art history in Brazil does not permit the understanding of his interdisciplinary approach to poetry. Whereas Brazilian literary critics focus on his more traditional poetic production, art historians consider the criticism independently, neglecting that he remained a poet through and through.The objective of this article, therefore, is to conduct an integrated analysis of Gullar's output, submitting his art writing to the parameters of a research that intended to overcome conventional media to materialize expression in its purest form. To achieve this objective, I examine the critical writings on the non-object, as well as his experimental poetry. The methodology is necessarily inter-disciplinary, in the sense that I intend to demonstrate the decisive interference of the latter practice in the former, although respecting the inherent particularities of each field. The analytical problems placed by his neoconcrete output, nonetheless, go beyond the relationship between these two literary discourses, since his poetry resulted from the crossing of different media, from the improbable mixing of words with modified books, objects and, even, environments – without any doubt, these experiments were the true producers of signification in his oeuvre, and are analyzed in detail.
This paper was presented Oct. 13, 2011 at SFU Vancouver. This paper has been removed from the Latin American Working Paper Series at the request of the author, Renato Rodrigues da Silva. Please contact Alexander Dawson of Simon Fraser University at if you would like a copy of the paper.
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