Photography has a separate area of its own in the Café Mundo exhibition. Our research eschewed the classic 19th-century images that are now well known and discussed: instead we picked photographs that have not previously been shown on the São Paulo and Brazilian art circuits. We selected two photographers: the amateur Armínio Kaiser, who covered coffee plantations in the states of São Paulo and Paraná in the 1950s and 60s, making images that have never been shown outside Paraná; and the Colombian artist Jorge Panchoaga, whose Casí Cafe [almost coffee] is being shown in Brazil for the first time. Our selection relates closely to the visual arts by highlighting photos that lend unusual visuality to the theme of coffee in different ways.
Salvador - BA, 1925
— Londrina - PR, 2014
Kaiser earned an agronomy degree from Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ) before working on coffee plantations for Instituto Brasileiro de Café (IBC) [Brazilian coffee institute] where he was involved in grain processing and soil treatment. Kaiser had always been an ideologue; he believed that agriculture combined with technology could assist human development. His images of everyday work on coffee plantations express these meanings, with an infinity of depths and surfaces on which subject and environment are connected in an almost solitary work. Their attentive gaze and formal geometric rigor suggest interconnected sections of a reality that cannot be fully apprehended. Kaiser's oeuvre refers to fraying relationships and contrasts mass production techniques to rural family settings. His photos lend this exhibition a very different perspective from that of the images we are used to seeing; lacking in eloquent grandeur, there is a more human nature, although objectified by a camera lens.
Popayán, Colômbia, 1984
Panchoaga comes from an anthropology and social science background. His photographic projects have developed installation formats and/or incorporated other languages. Café Mundo has brought together ten images from his Casí Cafe [almost coffee] series around coffee as consumed in Colombia. By invoking coffee, Jorge knew he would be dealing with one of his country's national symbols. At the same time, he shows places and gestures related to drinking the sort of coffee that is considered 'low quality' there: almost all so-called good Colombian coffee is for export and only a surplus is left over for sale locally. Rather than the major brands, Panchoaga's images investigate the unlabeled coffee of Colombian popular culture sold by street vendors known as tinteros. Gradually we see that coffee is central to an authentically Colombian experience set in movements around this national symbol.
To read more about Panchoaga, see https://www.panchoaga.com/almost-coffe