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  • Fabio Szwarcwald, director of the Visual Arts School, presents the exhibit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2018.

    Fabio Szwarcwald, director of the Visual Arts School, presents the exhibit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 18 August 2018

A year after the gender diversity exhibition was shut down by conservatives, a self-financing campaign by grassroots organizations has reopened Queermuseu.

Gender diversity exhibition 'Queermuseu' was reoepened on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, almost a year after it was shut down in Porto Alegre amid protests by conservative groups.

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The controversial exhibit, centered on 214 pieces from 82 artists including Adriana Varejhao, Alair Gomes, Alfredo Volpi and Candido Portinari, was opened at the Visual Arts School (EAV) of Lage Park, in the 'Jardim Botanico' neighborhood.

The reopening was made possible by a collective financing campaign in which artists, such as singer Caetano Veloso, and about 1,700 other people took part. Organizers managed to raise a total of roughly US$275,000.

The inauguration went smoothly, despite the presence of about 30 protesters linked to conservative organizations, such as the Free Brazil Movement (MBL) and the Fatherland Templars. They claim the exhibition promotes "pedophilia, zoophilia" and is disrespectful of religious beliefs.

Gaudencio Fidelis, one of the exhibition organizers, said: "The most progressive Brazilian society reopened the exhibit, and with it the possibility of having access to knowledge. This is the moment of democracy, of facing obscurantism. (Rio) has historically always been at the front row of the vanguard movments in arts and politics."

In a press conference on Thursday, Fidelis said the reopening was a sign that the most progressive sectors of society reject censorship because "an act of censorship like that had not been seen after the dictatorship."

'Queermuseu' first opened in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil, in August 2017 in the Santander Cultural venue, where it was programmed to remain until October 8 of the same year.

But pressure from a reactionary sector, headed by the MBL, led to its closure the following month. The same group had risen to the forefront during the 2014 protests against then President Dilma Rousseff, ousted in a parlamentary coup in 2016.

The organizers then tried to reopen the exhibit in Rio's Art Museum, but the idea was rejected by Mayor Marcelo Crivella, a Christian evangelical.

"The opning of the 'Queer Museu' exhibition continues at full speed at the Lage Park in Rio de Janeiro. Only today, hundreds of people have passed by to see the exhibition reopened!"

Now, the 'Queermuseu' will remain open until September 16, with free entry. Besides the exhibition, discussion boards on sexual diversity, LGBTQI rights and musical events will also take place.

Continuing threats?

EAV Director Fabio Szwarcwald said: "We're not worried about possible attacks to the exhibition because the campaign has been very different to what happened in the Art Museum of Rio since it began."

Organizers have nonetheless hired a private security company and the exhibition is being guarded by 20 agents and recently installed security cameras.


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