Video and performance artist Berna Reale exposes habituated realities in Brazil’s contemporary society with acts that infiltrate the relentless urban routines of Belém, the largest city and capital of the northern Brazilian state of Pará.
Through pointed humor, satirical characters, and striking colors, Reale’s performances in the videos Palomo (2012), Cantando na chuva (Singing in the Rain)(2014), and Untitled (2011) investigate current social conflicts of Brazil involving issues of criminal justice, capitalism, and gender inequality.
Wearing a dog muzzle and an androgynous police uniform in Palomo, Reale sits atop a brightly painted red horse and arbitrarily patrols unusually vacant city streets, an image that simultaneously pokes fun of the police force while soberly suggesting a dormant, violent danger. Naked and hogtied to a horizontal pole in Untitled, the artist is carried through bustling crowds who gawk and point, eliciting questions of how violence against women is often condoned or ignored altogether. In Cantando na chuva Reale is unrecognizable in a gold suit complete with a gold gas mask and a gold umbrella as she dances to the title song of the 1952 Hollywood classic Singin’ in the Rain. Dancing through a landfill among the catadores (pickers) who routinely sift through the piles of trash in the background, Reale presents a contrast between the backbreaking actions of the workers and the frivolous nature of a material-obsessed world.
Reale’s work depicts a different Brazilian reality that is often substituted for tropical imagery and samba dancers, provoking audiences to consider the different social roles and situations in Brazil and to recognize the universal nature of such matters in their own lives.
 During the performance the Belém police lent Reale the uniform and the horse, Palomo, whose name is used as the title for this video. The police force further helped as they painted the horse with Reale and closed off the streets for the filming duration of the video.
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Berna Reale (b. 1965) lives and works in Belém, Pará, Brazil. She studied Art at the Federal University of Pará and has participated in group and solo exhibitions in Brazil and abroad in Europe. Her solo exhibitions include “Eccoci” in 2015 in Venice (Italy); “Vapor” in 2014 at Galeria Millan (São Paulo, Brazil); and “Vazio de nós” in 2013 at MAR – Rio Art Museum (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Reale’s participation in group exhibitions include Da pedra Da terra Daqui, 34º Panorama da Arte Brasileira at MAM – Museum of Modern Art (São Paulo, Brazil) 2015; “Amazônia – Ciclos da Mondernidade” Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) 2012; and “From the Margin to the Edge,” Somerset House (London, England), 2012. In 2010 Reale began a second career as a criminal expert at the State of Pará Centre of Scientific Skills, and her personal experiences in crime, violence and corruption are themes that are explored in her provocative performances and video work. The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) is the first art institution in the United States to exhibit Reale’s work, and therefore the videos shown in the Codec Gallery were chosen to highlight the range of the artist’s diverse performances.
Utah Museum of Contemporary Art - Berna Reale: Singing in the Rain - 19.08.2016 - 05.11.2016