As part of the Latin America’s 1968 Colloquium series, CLACS and NYU’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese are proud to present a conversation with Brazilian Tropicalia icon Tom Zé, and Christopher Dunn (Tulane University) author of Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture.
This event is free and open to the public. RSVP IS required, and seating limited.
About the speakers:
Legendary musical artist Tom Zé formed part of Brazil’s Tropicália, a brief but powerful cultural movement that emerged in 1968, which also involved musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, vocalist Gal Costa, poets Torquato Neto and José Carlos Capinan, and vanguard rock band Os Mutantes. Zé’s music of the period is noted for its juxtaposition of avant-garde poetics and popular music, as well as its trenchant critique of consumer society.
If the year 1968 had watershed significance across the globe, in Brazil it was shaped by the right-wing military regime that had seized power in 1964 and the broad coalition of artists, intellectuals, students, and workers who opposed it; the year ended with the imposition of the draconian AI-5 decree, which outlawed political opposition, closed congress, suspended habeas corpus, and imposed stringent censorship. In this context, the artists and intellectuals associated with Tropicalia—including Tom Zé—began to question the earlier failed political projects of the Left, and proposed ironic, critical and simultaneously celebratory invocations of Brazilian culture and politics. Zé recorded his first solo album in 1968, “Tom Zé - Grande Liquidação.”
Tom Zé launched his career with Tropicália but fell from public view as he continued to develop more experimental pop music. In the 1990s, he regained visibility with the international release of a compilation of his work from the 1970s and two innovative albums featuring new material. He continues to perform, and lives and works in São Paulo.*
At NYU, Tom Zé will be in conversation with professor Christopher Dunn of Tulane University, author of Contracultura: Alternative Arts and Social Transformation in Authoritarian Brazil. (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), and Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture (University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
*The foregoing is glossed from Christopher Dunn’s Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture (University of North Carolina Press, 2001.)
About the series:
Latin America’s 1968; Curated by Jill Lane & Dylon Robbins.
In Latin America, the year 1968 marked a turning point in the social, political, and cultural transformations that had been unfolding in the wide wake of the Cuban Revolution of 1959. For Latin America, as for the rest of the world, the sixties were shaped by geopolitics of the Cold War, and of anti-colonial struggles across the globe. Yet they are most remembered by those who lived them as a time when ordinary people felt, like never before and perhaps never after, that they could change the course of history: millions of youth in student movements, advocates for indigenous rights, workers, campesinos, educators, intellectuals, and artists, long with guerillas and other armed insurgents, were self-aware in world-historical projects of radical social, political, economic, and cultural change. In these years, the personal became the political, politics became theatrical, theatre became a weapon, and the lines between self, art, and politics were forever redrawn. We study the complex relations between revolution, counterculture, and authoritarian rule as they emerged in Latin America’s 1968: the emergence of Brazil’s Cinema Novo, Cuba’s imperfect cinema, and militant documentary across the region; the rise of rick and activist nueva cancion, and also of experimental aesthetics in music, theatre, art and performance – tropicalia, nova objetividade, media art, happenings; the apogee of student activism and the counterculture in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, as well as its most harsh repression through the end of the “dictablanda” or “soft dictatorship” in Brazil, the massacre of Tlatelolco in Mexico, and, in 1969, the repression of the “Cordobazo” in Argentina.