Since the 1970s, the city of Altamira, which lies on the banks of the Xingu River, has undergone immense transformations, initially, through the construction of the Transamazonian Highway, and later, with the construction of the immense Belo Monte dam. Plans for the dam began in 1975 but were soon shelved due to controversy; they were revitalized in the late 1990s. In the 2000s, the dam was redesigned, but faced renewed controversy.
During December 2020, Swiss-based Brazilian artist Pedro Wirz made a research trip to Altamira, a region of the Amazon Rainforest known as Volta Grande do Xingu, located in the Pará state, in the north of Brazil. Inspired by cultural history, science, craft and folklore, the artist delved into the problems related to ethnic conflicts and environmental degradation in the area, more specifically those related to the construction of the Belo Monte dam (formerly known as Kararaô), located in the northern part of the Xingu River. Pedro Wirz visited numerous indigenous and riverine communities in the area, studying and documenting the different biomes of the region, and how they are affected and degraded by the human influence.
The Research Trip supported by Pro Helvetia, in the context of its South American programme, COINCIDENCIA, aimed to foster issues related to Wirz’s solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel in 2021, during the CultureScapes Festival.
About Pedro Wirz
Pedro Wirz draws his inspiration from cultural history, science, craft as well as folklore. He was born in 1981, in São Paulo, and is based in Zurich. In 2021, Wirz is scheduled for a solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel. Recent solo shows include: Termite Terminators, Marc Selwyn (Los Angeles, 2020); Sour Ground, Kai Matsumiya (New York, 2020); Verwachsen, Galerie Nagel Draxler (Berlin, 2019); A Curbing Wall of Debris\Nesting, Centre Culturel Suisse (Paris, 2019); A Curbing Wall of Debris\Landfilling, Kunsthaus Langenthal (2019); Terra Quente, LongTang (Zürich, 2019) and Fábula, Frisson, Melancolia, Instituto Tomie Ohtake (São Paulo, 2017). In addition, Wirz has been included in numerous group exhibitions, such as at Aargauer Kunsthaus (2019); Centre Pasquart (2018); Blank Projects (Cape Town, 2018); Tinguely Museum (Basel, 2016); CCS Bard Hessel Museum of Art (New York, 2015); Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (2013); Dortmunder Kunstverein (2013); Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2013) and Kunsthalle Basel (2011).