The Spirit of the Feast

by Bill Lundberg

"Camões'Feast" celebrates a myth in Portuguese
literary history and the special importance of
poetry in Brazilian culture. Anyone who has been
to Brazil may have noticed that poems are often
published in the major newspapers and that poetry
has an important place in popular culture, like the Cordel
publications, with their block printed covers, in a
way that is not seen in other countries. Regina's
installation, which is a symbolic tableau representing
Camões' famous banquet in which each plate, when
turned over, revealed one of his poems, evokes the
delight of finding the ordinary raised to the level of
art. In Regina's version every plate contains a poem
by a contemporary Brazilian poet, giving us food for
thought in addition to the visual content of
the installation.

Regina Vater has been exploring the installation
form in a multitude of ways, having produced more
than 100 installations since 1970. She has also been
a prodigious creator of visual poetry. It runs in the
family. Her great, great grandfather Odorico Mendes,
was the first Brazilian translator of Homer and a
well-respected poet in his day. Vater's current work
integrates the written word into its physical and visual
structure. The visual clues of the installation, the bay
leaves, black plates, and roses invoke subjective levels
of meaning beyond the literal references. We are
invited to feast on the thoughts of Brazil's famous
poets and to travel down the paths of our own