Look Again: The influence of Vilém Flusser on Brazilian photographer Rosângela Rennó
Brazilian artist Rosângela Rennó refuses to take “new” photographs, preferring instead to rework the mass of existing images. Her use of appropriation and her attitude towards this method are remarkably similar to international postmodern appropriation practices. However, she reached this parallel position through her exposure to different theories and influences. Her decision to abandon the act of photography and to appropriate photographs and photographic objects was influenced by the book Towards a Philosophy of Photography by Czech-Brazilian philosopher Vilém Flusser, amongst other theories that were current in Brazil at the time. The ideas of Flusser have not been extensively discussed in Brazilian art history. This article aims to evaluate Rennó’s art in relation to the fledgling postmodern debates generated in Brazil by Flusser. It also considers how Flusser’s particular theories directly influenced Rennó’s art. Rennó takes from Flusser the idea of the need for visual re-education, i.e., that viewers should be provoked into looking. Rennó’s response is to create images that are hard to see. Paradoxically, perhaps, she embraces opacity in order to generate visual engagement.