Coffee from Helvécia

One of 19th century’s largest coffee plantations, located in northeastern Brazil, was squarely in Swiss hands. Today’s Helvécia bears almost no traces of those forms of life and community. Watercolor paintings from Pinacoteca and artefacts from the Museu Afro Brasil in São Paulo shed light on a key chapter in the history of Swiss colonialism and global interconnections.

More than a hundred years later, another coffee plantation would become the setting for a social experiment: In the late 1930s, Brazilian architect and writer Flávio de Carvalho (1899-1973) founded an independent republic for “naked people” (i.e. those who reject categorization by social or ethnic affiliation, nationality, gender, etc.) at Fazenda Capuava.

Copyright: Denise Bertschi

The exhibition focuses on forms of community that emerge from migrant destinies, slavery, demand for goods, working conditions and utopian fantasies. Exhibits including Brazilian archival documents, watercolor paintings from Pinacoteca and artefacts from the Museu Afro Brasil in São Paulo, and a contemporary video- and textile piece by artist Denise Bertschi shed light on a key chapter in the history of Swiss colonialism and global interconnections.

Concept: Marcelo Rezende (Director of the Archive of the Avant-Gardes in Dresden)
with Eduardo Simantob

 

 

Events, opening hours and tickets

August 29, 7 p.m.: Opening with curator Marcelo Rezende

September 2, starting at 7 p.m.: Long Night of Museums featuring Brazilian music (guitarist Raimundo Bida dos Santos) and delicious food (feijoada).

September 7, 7 p.m.:
Concert with guitarist and vocalist Raimundo Bida dos Santos from Salvador da Bahia. Bida’s profound familiarity with the music of the plantation and slave era shows in his soulful interpretations.

November 4, November 11 and December 9, in the afternoon: Workshops for pre-teens and teens (11 and older).
Musical improvisation on the theme of utopia (vocals, sounds and effects using the music software GarageBand)

 

About the Johann Jacobs Museum
The Johann Jacobs Museum has dedicated itself to shedding light on the global interconnections of the world we live in. These interdependencies become particularly apparent when tracing the history of influential goods and their trade routes. Products such as coffee, cocoa, oil, opium, sugar, silk, watches, and diamonds have molded the face of the planet, shaped cultures, and transformed societies. We hope to foster a broader understanding of these complex interconnections with our programs and events.

Johann Jacobs Museum

 

This article was published in the issue of the August Newsletter. More topics:

One for you, one for me…

Facts and figures on early childhood