Translated by Rebecca Kosick with essays by Rebecca Kosick and Pedro Erber.
The first English-language translation of the “secret” poetry of Hélio Oiticica uncovers a crucial chapter in the development of one of Brazil’s most significant twentieth-century artists.
Between 1964 and 1966, in the first years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, Oiticica wrote a series of lyrical poems, entitled Secret Poetics, and reflected in a private notebook on their significance for his artistic practice. Despite his global fame as a founder of the interdisciplinary movement known as neoconcretismo, his collaborations with major Brazilian artists and writers (Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, Ferreira Gullar, etc.), and his influence across a range of disciplines (including painting, film, installation, and participatory art), Oiticica’s “secret” poems are almost unknown and have never been published as a collection. This edition, featuring the original texts in facsimile reproductions along with English translations and accompanying essays by translator Rebecca Kosick and critic Pedro Erber, uncovers the significance of poetry to Oiticica’s thinking on participation, sensation, and memory.
Penned during the crucial years of Oiticica’s artistic and personal coming-of-age, these secret poems reveal a lyrical and intimate counterpoint to the transgressive interventions the artist staged in public during this same period. They attest to Oiticica’s lifelong investment in poetry and the materiality of language, here rendered with the tenderness and limpidity of fleeting diaristic impressions.
—Irene V. Small