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Coffee from Helvécia

29 August 2017 - 28 January 2018

African Brazil, St. Galler embroidery and a modernist utopia

One of the largest coffee plants of the 19th century, located in the Brazilian north-east, was firmly established in Swiss hands. However, what exactly took place there is largely unknown. Today’s state of Helvécia hardly reveals the voluntary and involuntary forms of work and life that have developed between European immigrants and African slaves and their free offspring. A century later, another coffee plantation will be the scene of a social experiment; The Brazilian architect and writer Flávio de Carvalho (1899-1973) founded an independent republic for “naked people” (ie for people who reject it according to social or ethnic affiliation, nationality, sex, etc.) on the Fazenda Capuava at the end of the 1930s to become).
Forms of community, resulting from migrations fate, slavery, demand for goods, working conditions and utopian fantasies, are at the center of this exhibition. A central chapter of the Swiss colonial and intertwining history is illuminated with documents from Brazilian archives, watercolors from the Pinacoteca and artefacts from the Museu Afro-Brasil in São Paulo and a contemporary video and textile work by the artist Denise Bertschi.

Concept: Marcelo Rezende (director of the archive of the avant-garde in Dresden) with Eduardo Simantob



Johann Jacobs Museum


Johann Jacobs Museum
Seefeldquai 17, 8034 Zürich Schweiz
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