Hélio Oiticica at Inhotim (image via Otávio Nogueira on Flickr)

The impeachment of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and the current economic crisis will have a long-lasting impact on the country, including on one of the largest open-air contemporary art collections in the world.

The latest episode of the Hyperallergic podcast looks at Inhotim, an arts center and botanic garden located less than 300 miles from Rio de Janeiro, in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais. Founded in 2006 by iron-mining magnate Bernardo Paz, the park occupies 350 acres and features more than 4,000 plants and about 700 art pieces, installed in 23 pavilions, by artists like Hélio Oiticica, Adriana Varejão, Cildo Meireles, Tunga, Yayoi Kusama, Olafur Eliasson, and Larry Clark.


Inhotim’s founder and president Bernardo Paz (photo by Gisele Regatao) (click to enlarge)

Inhotim’s budget relies heavily on companies’ donations through cultural subsidies, which recently have decreased significantly. But in my interview with Paz, he remains optimistic. “Inhotim is now an international place, known in all continents and also known as a perspective for the future,” he says. “All that translates as a spiritual state. And a spiritual state is something that doesn’t end.”

Paz doesn’t extend his positive attitude to the arts world in general, however. “We have started to decree, not for now, but for the next 30 years, the death of the museums, which are like boxes buried in big cities,” he says.


Adriana Varejão’s pavilion at Inhotim (image via Vinicius Depizzol on Flickr)

I also spoke with Yara Castanheira, Inhotim’s director of education, who says they are very invested in the relationship between Inhotim and the surrounding communities. “Eighty percent of people working at Inhotim are from the area, so Inhotim is the second largest employer in the region,” she says, the largest being the mining industry.

Finally, Hyperallergic’s associate editor Elisa Wouk Almino explains how the work of late landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx, who inspired the design of Inhotim, reflects a time of optimism in Brazil in the 1950s and ‘60s, when the artistic movement of Tropicalismo transformed the country’s visual and musical culture.

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Correction: A previous version of this article stated Roberto Burle Marx helped design Inhotim, when he only served as an inspiration. This has been fixed. 

Gisele Regatao is a professor and multimedia journalist who has written about everything from samba music in her native São Paulo to start-ups in Mumbai and the ever-expansion of museums in New York City....