The musical, artistic and literary movement inaugurated by Hélio Oiticica’s installation of 1967 and Caetano Veloso’s homonymous song —followed by the ‘Bahian group’s’ first collective record— the year after, remains one of the most influential and complex aesthetic experiences in Brazil and Latin America of the late twentieth century. Indeed, in its transgressive sampling of pop and ‘high’ cultures both national and global in order to challenge an increasingly repressive political context, Brazil’s tropicalist movement has become newly relevant in recent years. Its shrill juxtapositions between rural-popular and cosmopolitan musical forms, of modernist and concrete poetry and of street slang, of international hippie fashions with the kitsch aesthetic of local TV, enraged both the authoritarian regime and the dominant strands of leftist cultural resistance. In the course, we will study Tropicália’s musical expressions (Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, Os Mutantes) as well as its visual (Hélio Oiticica, Rubens Gerchman), poetic (Torquato Neto, Waly Salomão) and theatrical ones (José Celso Martinez Corrêa). We shall also look at its literary and filmic sources and forerunners, such as Glauber Rocha’s Terra em Transe (Entranced Earth, 1967) or José Agrippino de Paula’s Panamérica (1967), as well as at some of the cultural movements that drew inspiration from it (Manguebeat, AfroReggae, etc.). The course will be taught in Portuguese.
Suggested reading: Caetano Veloso, Verdade tropical (Companhia das Letras, 1997) [English: Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil (Da Capo, 2003)]