A Casa é Sua: Migração e hos(ti)pitalidade fora do lugar  
Make Yourself at Home: Displaced ideas on migration and hos(ti)pitality // بيتي بيتك

Opening: Wednesday, 30 March 2022 | 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
30 March – 26 June 2022

The ancient Greeks had their particular concept of hospitality contained in the word Xenia, in the Latin form of hospes, simultaneously meaning: host, guest or stranger. The notion of hospitality implies hostility as it presupposes the presence of the “other”, “outsider”, “stranger”, “foreigner” or “guest”. Therefore Jaques Derrida coined the term hostipitality.
In Arabic, Dayāfa is the word for hospitality; a virtue of welcome and generosity largely described in pre-Islamic poetry (Al Jahiliyya) and rooted in Bedouin practices to ease the difficult living conditions of the desert for the traveler or the guest. Arabs’ pride in the practice of hospitality lies in both duty and honor: It is said that the host must welcome and feed the guest for three days and three nights, after which his obligation is fulfilled and the guest is asked to “make (her/him)self at home’’. 

A Casa é Sua: Migração e hos(ti)pitalidade fora do lugar is the exhibition component of a South-South cross-cultural exchange ongoing since 2017, mainly between Lebanon and Brazil. The project looks at hospitality and the tensions in guest-host relations from the perspective of historical and contemporary forms of migrations specific to these two southern global contexts and resonating with wider global xenophobic practices towards the other, which does not only refer to the refugee or the migrant. The exhibition features the works of nineteen international artists and collectives, including site-specific commissions in public spaces in the city of Rio de Janeiro. 
‘Make yourself at home’, this is a self-limiting invitation... It means: please feel at home, act as if you were at home, but, remember, that is not true, this is not your home but mine, and you are expected to respect my property. 

 – J. Derrida

No MartinsRegras do jogo, 2021
Chessboard, 80 x 80 x 10 cm
Ahmad Ghossein, Rehearsing with Shahrazad, 2020
Video Installation commissioned for A Casa é Sua: Migração e hos(ti)pitalidade fora do lugar

The exhibition’s methodology was always intended to be context-responsive and, since 2017, has been imbued and traversed by several tragedies and political upheaval which caused its first postponement, followed by a pandemic resulting in a second deferral. Though the exhibition was delayed, the project was able to formulate two alternative gestures of radical hospitality during these difficult times:

The first took the form of an emergency relief residency in collaboration with Kaaysá Artist Residency in Boiçucanga (São Paulo). Make Yourself at Home: Radical Care and Hospitality, which took place in October 2020 in the aftermath of the Beirut Port Explosion, transported and hosted seven artists who were impacted by the blast and in need of a safe haven to Brazil, to recuperate physically and psychologically. These five weeks of living together sparked critical dialogues on the practice of radical hospitality in times of extreme crisis, its problematics and limits, engaging Brazilian artists and contributors, many of whom are involved in the exhibition, in punctual visits and support. These include Patrick Pessoa (philosopher and writer), Tania Riveira (curator and psychoanalyst), Denise Portinari (psychoanalyst), Hena Lee (curator), Gui Mohallem (artist), Marcos Chaves (artist), Isabele Rjeille (curator), Bianca Bernardo (curator), and Gabriel Boghossian (writer and curator), amongst others. 

The second response took place in June 2020. As the pandemic was ravaging Brazil and the number of homeless people dramatically increased in Rio de Janeiro, access to water became and remains an emergency. As part of A Casa è Sua: Migração e hos(ti)pitalidade fora do lugar and to meet the urgent need for access to water, artist collective OPAVIVARÀ! was commissioned. Bem Comum, a public mobile fountain now finding its home on the patio of Paço Imperial for the length of the exhibition, was activated as an intervention over the course of several weekends, by circulating the streets of central Rio de Janeiro and distributing water to the homeless along the path of dried fountains such as the Fountain of Mestre Valentim. 

The exhibition features works by international and local artists Ahmad Ghossein (Lebanon), Alexandre Canonico (Brazil/UK), Arjan Martins (Brazil), Ayla Hibri (Lebanon), Bouchra Khalili (France/Morocco), Daniel Steegmann Mangrané (Spain/Brazil), Forensic Architecture (UK), Franziska Pierwoss (Germany), Gabriela Bettini (Spain), Gui Mohallem (Brazil), Khalil Rabah (Palestine), Laura Lima (Brazil), Louise Botkay (Brazil), Marcos Chaves (Brazil), No Martins (Brazil), Omar Mismar (Lebanon), OPAVIVARÁ! (Brazil), Paulo Nazareth (Brazil) and Rayyane Tabet (Lebanon). 

A Casa é Sua: Migração e hos(ti)pitalidade fora do lugar brings forth topics which challenge western misplaced ideas on hospitality and guest-host relations when applied in contexts such as Brazil, Lebanon, Palestine or the Caribbean. The ways in which this project has allowed for permeability and transformation in response to current political issues, social needs and pressing themes relating to hospitality is an experiment of curatorial nature, in many ways positioning the exhibition as a host and a guest in relation to the context it is taking place in. 

The hosting institution, Paço Imperial - an iconic building in the history of Rio de Janeiro where kings of the colonial period settled residence by making themselves at home - is also the place in which the law definitely banning slavery from Brazil was signed (lei Aurea). a hundred years ago. A Casa é Sua invites the public to turn the space of the exhibition into a temporary home where affect and relations allow for imaginaries and radical gestures to emerge; where desires of Quilombos and living together with the other are manifested. 

Stay tuned for the exhibition reader being published soon!

Forensic Oceanography, Liquid Traces - The Left-to-Die Boat Case, 2014 
Film still, 17’ 
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A project by Goethe-Institut Rio de Janeiro, TAP (Temporary Art Platform) and Paço Imperial

Exhibition curator: Amanda Abi Khalil
Assistant curator: Danielle Makhoul
Project partner: Patrick Pessoa
Institutional partners: Amigos do Paço, Open Society Foundations, Instituto Inclusartiz, Consulat Général de France à Rio de Janeiro
Research phase partners: Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig (Cultures of the Curatorial), ISCP (International Studio & Curatorial Program), Delfina Foundation
Relief residency Make Yourself at Home: Radical Care and Hospitality: Kaaysá Artist Residency, Goethe-Institut São Paulo, the Consulate General of Brazil in Lebanon

Exhibition design: 
Graphic design: Bloco gráfico
Exhibition production: Patuá and Automatica
Lighting: Alessandro Boschini
Translation: Marise Barros

Proofreading: Duda Costa
Public relations: Gabriela Garcia
Social media: Gianni de Melo and Thais Schio
Educational program: Layla Werneck and Mélanie Mozzer

The research for this project has been made possible by the generous support of the
Goethe-Institut Rio de Janeiro, Delfina Foundation, ISCP (International Studio & Curatorial Program), Instituo Inclusartiz and the Open Society Foundations

Join us for the unveiling of Marcos Chaves' permanent site-specific artwork in Rio de Janeiro

Let’s have a date in SAARA?
Permanent site-specific public artwork
by Marcos Chaves

Unveiling: 31 March, 2022 / 4:00 - 6:00 pm
Praça do Mascate, SAARA, Rio de Janeiro

Commissioned for A Casa é Sua: Migração e hos(ti)pitalidade fora do lugar, Marcos Chaves’ public art intervention consists of planting a “migrant” date palm in Praça do Mascate, the only triangle-shaped square in SAARA (an acronym for Sociedade de Amigos das Adjacências da Rua da Alfândega, which translates to “Society of Friends of the Surroundings of Alfândega street”), an area of Rio de Janeiro where many immigrants from the Middle East settled at the beginning of the 20th century. A strong symbol of generosity and fertility, this date palm will settle amongst already-existing local palm trees, turning the square into an area of hospitality, just as SAARA has grown to become an important retail hub where merchants from diverse backgrounds work side by side in tolerance and acceptance. Visually similar, the date palm and local palm trees have very different origins and properties. The date palm is a tree which grows in the oasis of deserts, considered sacred by all religions as mentioned in the Koran, the Bible, in Persian proverbs and depicted in Egyptian inscriptions. Before being genetically modified, the date palm used to take 80 to 90 years to bear fruit after being planted, giving it plenty of time to adapt to its new and alien environment.

On the ground, around the trunk of the date palm, a plaque is installed inscribed with a sentence in Portuguese, English and Arabic. The three sentences craftily play on the words used in the different languages. In English, “Let’s have a date in SAARA?”, the word “date” refers to a social or romantic meeting, but phonetically can be mistaken for the fruit that the date palm bears, hence the translation to Portuguese “Vamos Comer Uma Tâmara no SAARA” which literally translates to “Let’s eat a date in SAARA”.

However, whereas SAARA refers to the market in central Rio, it can be interpreted phonetically as the Sahara desert, hence the translation in Arabic to لنلتقي في الصحراء, which literally translates to “Let’s meet in the desert”.  As rainwater drains through the hollow letters to irrigate the palm’s roots, the statements, with very different meanings in each language,  humorously reflect typical mistakes which can be made by beginners in a foreign language.
In the same spirit of this public intervention and alongside it, Chaves also collaborated with Rádio SAARA on a public sound intervention, in which he compiled and recorded phrases, proverbs and idioms in his own voice, such as “those who plant dates don’t harvest them”, a saying which encourages actions beyond the self, as it takes date palm trees 80 to 90 years to bear fruit. These were recorded and broadcast in Portuguese on the radio through the streets of SAARA and for the length of the exhibition. Whereas the phrases are related to the date palm tree and its role in history, as well as to hospitality and the similarities and dissonances between languages, Chaves’ interest lay in the tension and provocation that some idioms can create.

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This is a permanent site-specific public art intervention in collaboration with Rádio SAARA, in SAARA (Center of Rio de Janeiro) commissioned by the Goethe-Institut to artist Marcos Chaves as part of the project A Casa é Sua: Migração e hos(ti)pitalidade fora do lugar, 2022

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