Letícia Parente (*1930 †1991, Brazil) was a visual artist and a professor with a PhD in Chemistry. She was a pioneer of Brazilian video art during the 1970s. Her video pieces are documentations of politically, corporeally and conceptually charged actions that emphasise the multiple interactions between the artist’s body, the video camera and the Brazilian socio-historical context. For “In” (1975), Parente hangs herself by her shoulders on a dress hanger inside a closet. In another video,”Tarefa I” (Task I, 1982), she lays down on an ironing board to have her clothes ironed by the hand of a black woman. In “Preparação II” (Preparation II, 1976), the artist gives herself four injections of vaccines labeled “anti–cultural colonialism”, “anti-racism”, “anti-political mystification” and “anti-art mythification”. Parente’s video actions can be seen as manifestos against oppression in a historical period when torture was a widespread practice used by the military regime against its opponents. They are also manifestos against everyday discrimination based on gender, race and class prejudices; they are performative acts for decolonizing the body.
In Marca Registrada (Trademark), Letícia Parente sews the words “Made in Brazil” on the sole of her foot with a needle and thread. Recorded with a Portapak video camera made in the USA (Brazil did not have the industrial know-how to produce cameras in the 1970s), this performative act calls attention to the enormous politically and economically ambiguous increase in the country’s foreign debt during the military dictatorship (1964-85) to fuel its industrial ‘independence’. The English words embroidered in Parente’s body also evoke a reflection on the means and modes of production and the circulation of Brazilian art in an increasingly global economy.
Courtesy André Parente