Casa Daros was intended as an open house for everyone interested, as a platform for the arts and culture, which of course was also open to social and political issues. We saw it as a hub between Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Latin America, and the rest of the world, bringing together very different groups of people through art, opening new horizons by virtue of our networks and information, and challenging habitual patterns of thought and outlook.
Art and culture hub
By assembling cultural and creative communities from Latin America in Latin America for the first time, Casa Daros provided an entirely new service. In that sense, it offered a centripetal moment to the latent centrifugal drift of Latin Americans toward Europe and North America and thus succeeded at sustainably stimulating the self-concept and self-confidence of Latin American creative artists. Casa Daros, however, not only wanted to bring together people from Latin America, but from the whole world, for that was the only way of forming not just a small counterbalance to the centers in North America and Europe, but rather of gradually evening the scales between those centers and Latin America. It was important to us to produce a consistent gravitational field beyond all political and social constraints, where sustainable encounters would take place—between Brazil, the other Latin American countries, and the entire world. Like the label «Made in Germany» once evolved to a quality brand name, we wanted to make the same happen for the hallmark: «Made in Latin America»!
We had the Casa Daros for this purpose, a former orphanage in the urban quarter of Botafogo, which we were strongly discouraged from purchasing at the time, based on the argument that the neighborhood was far too unsafe and no one would ever visit us there. That turned out to be far from the truth! The stately neocolonial building from 1866 with its square layout, a side length of 100 meters, and two generous patios was listed as a historical monument. Under our aegis, it was restored in many years of meticulous detail work until it could effortlessly serve all our purposes. Apart from numerous exhibition halls and the office spaces for administration, it also comprised an auditorium, a library, and, of course, an area for educational activities, as well as a restaurant, a cafeteria and a gift shop.
Education was pivotal to us. Together with the artists and our audience and based on the artworks themselves, we wanted to learn and understand what the act of creation actually means. To convey—not ex cathedra but playfully and full of relish—the joy of art, was the objective of my Cuban colleague Eugenio Valdés, whom I would like to quote here as the head of the educational programs at Casa Daros:
«Daros Latinamerica’s transcendence will be contingent on the ways that its comprehensive application of the principle of creating future values will reverberate in Latin America. For this reason, pedagogy will constitute a keystone of each and every facet of all activities launched by Casa Daros and its working groups. Our pedagogical criterion does not encourage the consumption but rather the creation and recreation of ideas; the construction of desire. A key precept of Daros Latinamerica will be to significantly contribute to the development and stimulation of future generations of Latin American thinkers, respecting their autonomy and avoiding the imposition of conceptual fossils. Another fundamental precept will be to cultivate the potentials of the Latin American intellectual universe; to encourage a mindset that provides keys to dissimilar locks. In this sense—like any “house” and “family”—Daros Latinamerica will also be a school. “Teaching requires knowing how to listen.” (Paulo Freire). In the quest to serve as host and promoter of contemporary Latin American thought, Casa Daros will pay special attention to the education of young professionals from the continent. Enabling them to actively participate in our project will guarantee the continuity and broadening of the transformation that Daros Latinamerica proposes».
Regarding Casa Daros and our programmatic policy at the time, also see posts no. 1 and no. 2!
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Have heard so much about Casa Daros and when I finally managed to come to Rio in summer 2019 nothing left, what a pity!
Note, concerning the errection of the structure of ex-“Casa Daros” (ex-“Recolhimento de Santa Teresa”) in Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro: Foundation stone was layed October 15th, 1873 (not 1866)
We were so impressed by the opening show ‘Cantos Cuentos Colombianos’. It was a very powerful and revealing exhibition.
Casa Daros was such a well conceived, appropriate, and beautifully executed initiative, that it’s beyond tragic that it could not be sustained.
It’s sad that the quality of critical awareness and creative vision brought by the curators was not matched by an equivalent stamina from the funding entity. Although the museum has now gone and the collection dispersed, the vision and scholarly rigour remains in our memory and in the archive as evidence of what was achieved.