‘Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium’
“Parangolé,” writes Larry Rohter, “is an old favela slang term that can mean idle chatter, a noisy party, or street-smart behavior intended to deceive someone: Qual é o parangolé? means something akin to ‘Wussup?” But the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica “applied the word to scraps of tulle, linen, satin, nylon, canvas, cotton, gauze, and other fabrics that he sewed into colorful cape-like garments meant to be donned by onlookers. Though radical for the art world, Oiticica’s parangolés share a common ancestry with the showy Carnival garb of Rio’s samba schools: at the Whitney, several photographs and a film show Mangueira’s mostly black lead dancers wearing parangolés in various Rio settings—including the gardens of the Museum of Modern Art after they were refused admittance to an exhibition featuring some of Oiticica’s other creations. Visitors to the Whitney can even try on examples of Oiticica’s handiwork, some of which are adorned with the charged slogans he favored: ‘I Embody Revolt’ or ‘Sex and Violence, That’s What I Like’ or ‘I Am Possessed.'”
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