Museum of public concerns

by Mabe Bethônico

The Museum of Public Concerns presents hidden aspects of the history of the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais with the aim of divulging content that sparks debate regarding the distinction between public and private. As a mobile photographic digital archive, viewable in various formats and contexts, its collections come from individuals, NGOs, and public and private organizations willing to share items that have the potential to engage with the present. These are subjects that have a political, social and economic impact on the surrounding context which connects it to the nation as a whole. In general terms, Minas Gerais, like the whole country, lacks public infrastructure, investment and the will to actively record its history. Such amnesia especially applies to minorities and controversial subjects such as mining, one of the historically important industries in the region.

This project reacts to the ongoing transformation of public buildings into private corporate cultural spaces using public money which is occurring in Praça da Liberdade 1, one of Belo Horizonte city center’s public squares. Public institutions lack funding, while the state gives multinationals the power to present/determine collective history and culture and pertinent questions, implications and criticisms are absent.

The challenge of the Museum of Public Concerns is to discuss pressing issues in the context of a flexible platform that is taken to the very members of the general public who do not visit currently available institutions. It is designed to occupy public space, collecting, transmitting, and reflecting on public access and memory, encouraging critical thinking, and promoting awareness and recognition. The most recent consequences of ultra liberalism in the arts have returned artists to a point where they no longer critique public institutions, but build up institutions around public spaces, with content that needs to be visible and accessible, thereby participating in the dynamics of public and state discussion and action, instead of being hidden by corporate and state advertising interests. 

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Questions from a miner who reads . by Anselm Jappe