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The exposure Carolina Maria de Jesus: a Brazil for Brazilians, which opens on September 18, presents the life, work and legacy of the writer, in addition to highlighting little-known aspects of her trajectory. With free admission, the exhibition will be held at Instituto Moreira Salles, located in the city of São Paulo.

The result of almost two years of research, the selection brings together around 300 items, including photographs, manuscripts, press articles, videos and other documents. In addition, there will be works by around 60 artists who dialogue with the production of Carolina de Jesus (1914-1977).

Carolina Mary of Jesus

The writer’s reflections throughout her trajectory are present in the exhibition, from her childhood in the city of Sacramento (MG), in the context of the post-abolition of slavery, including her arrival in the city of São Paulo, the launching and repercussion of her books , until the end of his life, in Parelheiros (SP).

According to the organizers, in the selection, the public will be able to observe how Carolina interpreted the country’s contradictions, politics and inequality. The exhibition, on display until January 2022, demonstrates the historical importance of the author for struggles such as anti-racism, for literacy and for housing.

Carolina’s texts and her own lyrics appear in different formats in the exhibition, such as manuscripts, wall projections and licks. During the research, the author’s originals were consulted, most of them located in the Public Archives of Sacramento. The objective is to show the public the original production of the writer, after her published books have undergone modifications.

“Carolina has become a symbol of resistance for contemporary black movements, a reference for strands of black feminism, for literature with black and peripheral authorship. An icon of an insubmissive Brazil, which called into question a project of excluding modernity, which was shaped when the author launched her first book’”, says the curator team.

It is curated by anthropologist Hélio Menezes and historian Raquel Barreto, with assistance from art historian Luciara Ribeiro and research work by literary critics and doctor of letters Fernanda Miranda.


The title of the exhibition, Um Brasil para os Brazilians, refers to two original notebooks by the writer, which have been in the custody of the IMS since 2006. In 1975, Carolina delivered the manuscripts to researcher Clélia Pisa, who, together with Maryvonne Lapouge, interviewed her for the book Brasileiras, published in France.

After Carolina’s death, the notebooks were edited in that country and published in a book, in 1982, with the title Bitita’s Journal, which was translated and released in Portuguese as Bitita Diary, in 1986. In the process of editing the manuscripts, there were changes in the author’s text, such as changing the original title, A Brazil for Brazilians.

The manuscripts are the mainstay of the exhibition and will be displayed at the entrance, as indicated by the organizers.

“In A Brazil for Brazilians, the author elaborates biographical and autofictional narratives when she recalls her childhood, presenting points of view of characters that were erased from the official narratives written, mostly by male and white authors. Carolina thus makes an interesting counterpoint to the current literary canons in Brazil”, explains the curatorship team on the importance of the book.

Writer Carolina Maria de Jesus, embarking for the launch of her book

In addition to exploring Carolina’s literary production, the exhibition features little-known photographs. There is, for example, a registration of her at the airport, in 1961, before boarding for the launch of storage room, in Uruguay. In other photos, she appears on a television show with her children, in 1962, and wearing a dress she made for the 1963 carnival.

“By bringing together these photographs, the exhibition seeks to present the author’s new visuality, in contrast to the more widespread images, which almost always portray her in a profiled way, with a sometimes serious and downcast expression and her hair covered by a scarf, which ended up becoming a symbol associated with the writer”, explain the organizers.

The show also addresses Carolina’s relationship with the press. The curatorial research revealed that the writer had her first publication in newspapers in the 1940s, almost 20 years before the famous story about the writer by journalist Audálio Dantas. In addition, there are reports published in vehicles such as O Cruzeiro, Folha de S. Paulo, Última Hora and New York Times.

Carolina’s work also had repercussions on the international scene. The book Storage room foi translated into other languages ​​and the exhibition will have copies of international editions of the work, showing how the author’s production reached readers in different parts of the world.

In addition to her literary work, Carolina composed songs, sang, played the guitar and sewed, facets that will also be presented in the exhibition. In 1961, a year after releasing storage room, she recorded the homonymous album, with songs of her own authorship. The rare LP, which belongs to the José Ramos Tinhorão Collection, under the custody of IMS, will be on display. The public will also be able to hear the songs on the album, which deal with everyday life and class and gender relations.

To visit the exhibition, prior appointments must be made online. Instituto Moreira Salles, the exhibition site, is located at Avenida Paulista, 2424.

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