by Cesar Oiticica Filho
Very much in the spirit of Jack Smith, Hélio Oiticica really has to be called a flaming film. The found-footage cinematic mosaic by Cesar Oiticica Filho, the nephew of the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticia, is a frenzied narrative of images, movements and textures, colors, rhythms and sounds. The film uses Oiticica's position as a crossover artist – as one working between art and film, between painting, sculpture and physical experience – as its central formal principle. Different, in part heterogeneous materials and media collide with one another and organically intertwine – from film and sound archive material to photographs, from sketches and drawings to scratchy and wildly flickering grainy frames of film and the smooth surfaces of digital visuals. Hélio Oiticica is a musical film, and not just because beautiful music is to be heard in it: the film itself is determined by rhythms and tempo changes. The film sometimes just flows along only to revert once again into a barely controllable overabundance as fluid tracking shots through rooms and installations by the artist alternate with rapidly cut sequences of still images.
The lustrous narrator of the film is Hélio Oiticica himself. In the same way that the artist extends the painterly into the environment and transmutes the corporal into the sculptural, his narratives go far beyond the boundaries of an artist's biography. The slums of Rio de Janeiro, the Tropicália Movement as an alternative to the repressive politics of the military dictatorship, artistic productivity in London, and the art of idleness in New York: Oiticica roams through urban life as well as the Brazilian music and film scene and the New York underground. And now and again he shares with literal abandon his multifarious interests, influences and encounters, telling of the beauty and dangers of the streets – a "sexual initiation" – and of samba, cocaine, Jimi Hendrix's intensive relationship with his electric guitar, carnival processions, the labyrinthine architecture of the favela, and of the navigational abilities of ants. Hélio Oiticica is an anti-academic (art) historiography and a refutation of joyless curatorial administrative labor. Most recently, the artist has dubbed his creative method as "Delirium Ambulatório" – whatever that might mean, Hélio Oiticica itself is an invitation to get infected by it.