Artist Work

Des-Habitat / Revista Habitat (1950–1954)

Des-Habitat interrogates the ways in which Indigenous arts and crafts appeared within discourses and imaginaries of modernity through the lens of Habitat, the arts and design magazine created by architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1950. Instead of the content shown in the images of Indigenous objects, the project interrogates the context from which they emerged as signifiers of modernity in Habitat, examining how Habitat itself, by virtue of its language and visual design, functioned as framing device that concealed that context and its inherent colonial structure.

Paulo Tavares, Des-Habitat, 2018
Installation – publication, TV monitor, video, furniture designed by architect Lina Bo Bardi
Courtesy of the artist

Similar to other “militant modernist” publications which flourished at the time, Habitat, the art and design magazine co-founded in 1950 by the architect and designer Lina Bo Bardi and her husband Pietro Maria Bardi, not only propagated images of modern art and architecture but also images of popular and Indigenous cultures. In this way, it simultaneously introduced its audience to the vocabulary of modernism along with vernacular and native forms of cultural expression.

Paulo Taveres’ Des-Habitat investigates the ways in which the aesthetic language of Habitat framed Indigenous arts and crafts. It mobilizes a series of design strategies based on re-appropriation, collage and replacement—procedures central to Habitat’s graphic language—to interrogate the context from which these images emerged. This includes looking at how the government’s policy of pacifying Indigenous groups, which included resettlement and confiscating tribal land, also
led to the circulation of Indigenous artefacts amongst the elite. Thus, it exposes how Habitat itself, by virtue of its pedagogic language and visual design, functioned as a framing device to conceal its own inherently colonial perspective.

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