Some have employed security guards. Others have fled. With Jair Bolsonaro about to take power, many artists in Brazil fear the censorship and intimidation they currently endure are about to get much worse
Wagner Schwartz received the first death threat two days after lying naked on the floor of a museum in São Paulo. It was October 2017 and the Brazilian artist had invited members of his audience, which included children, to adjust his body: move a limb, roll him over, that kind of thing. This was for a dance piece called La Bête, a work he had already staged many times at home and abroad. So it was a shock to suddenly find himself the target of an increasingly emboldened network of rightwing and evangelical Christian groups.
During La Bête, a four-year-old girl, encouraged by her mother, lifted Schwartz’s hand and then his foot, while another slightly older girl touched his head. These moments were caught on video and uploaded to Facebook. “The creators of this page,” says Schwartz, “put a caption on the video saying the museum incited paedophilia and that I was a paedophile. From this moment on, people who did not know me or the work decided La Bête was a threat.”
'I see frightening parallels. I don't think Brazilians are prepared'
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