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São Paulo Art Museum Hires Sandra Benites, Its First Indigenous Art Curator

One of the premier art museums in São Paulo made history by hiring Sandra Benites, the first indigenous art curator in Brazil.

The Museum de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) in Brazil has been gearing up for its much-anticipated exhibition on indigenous history. But before the exhibition, it made another game-changing move by appointing Sandra Benites the adjunct curator for the exhibition. Hailing from the Guarani Nhandewa community, Benites became the first indigenous curator anywhere in Brazil.

Benites have been associated with MASP for 2 years, previously serving as an advisor on the upcoming exhibition. Now, she will be responsible for curating the art section that deals with indigenous Brazilian art. In a statement, Benites said:

“The project of the exhibition ‘Histórias indígenas’ at MASP is very important to awake indigenous memories since most of them have been asleep. When we speak about histories, we speak about ancestral knowledge, and the objective here is to tell these histories from an indigenous perspective about ‘ywy rupa’, which is the Guarani notion territoriality.”

Histórias Indígenas, as this exhibition will be titled, is slated to be launched in 2021. The exhibition would be a collection of indigenous art histories from across the world. It already received a share of a $250,000 prize money from Sotheby’s. The long gap between the announcement and the launch of this exhibition is not unusual. It is part of the “Histórias” series by MASP, which was launched in 2016. Theme exhibitions in these series usually take about 2 years before they are ready to be launched. Art Director Adriano Pedrosa said that many exhibitions have been themed around indigenous culture in the past 5 years. This wouldn’t have been the case a decade ago.