Mara Álvares (b. 1948) is the Brazilian artist whose work is the focus of the second issue of Nervo Óptico and the group founder interested in merging photography and performance. The title of the work, Adansônia, refers to a huge tree that is a member of the malvaceae family and grows in tropical areas (as well as having a root word related to dance). Subsequently, the artist continued her performance and photographic studies at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she began to teach painting in 1993 and continued this work until her return to Brazil. Upon her return, she joined the teaching corps at the Instituto de Artes da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Porto Alegre. In recent years, her work has investigated forms of urban painting, in particular, graffiti.
Under the epigraph “Publication open to the dissemination of new visual poetics,” Nervo Óptico was published monthly in Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul) for a total of 13 issues (from April 1977 to September 1978). The journal was created by a group of artists who identified themselves with the journal’s initials, N.O. The participants in Nervo Óptico included Vera Chaves Barcellos (b. 1938), Carlos Asp (b. 1949), Carlos Pasquetti (b. 1948), Clovis Dariano (b. 1950), Jesús Escobar (b. 1956), Flávio Pons (b. 1947), Mara Alvares (b. 1948), Romanita Martins (b. 1940) and Telmo Lanes (b. 1955).
The publication was created in the form of a small plaque, printed on only one side of the sheet (32 cm x 22.05cm), with an average run of 2,000 copies. Circulated nationally and internationally, Nervo Óptico was sent out to a broad mailing of artists, journalists and art critics.
The content of Nervo Óptico was basically visual, reproducing works by the group or invited artists, almost all including the language of photography, whether as artwork in itself or as photographic documentation of performances. The publication created a space for debate about contemporary art events far from the values that prevailed in the art market and the demand for collectible objects. Nervo Óptico focused on conceptual art, thus creating its own instrument of legitimation.
All 13 issues of the Porto Alegre publication Nervo Óptico are available in the ICAA digital archive.
For a description of the works in the group’s first exhibition and other artists’ testimony on the semiotic intentions of its work, see “[Em manifestaçao realizada em dezembro último...]” by the Grupo N.O. . In addition, regarding the group’s thinking about the artist’s role and creative potential beyond market conditions, see the document distributed during the exhibition entitled “Manifesto” .