Nanoutställningen, Stockholm, Sweden, Galleri 44, 2009





The NANO Project

7 editions, 2005-2009

Curated and conceived by Grupo D.O.C. (Isabel Löfgren, Patricia Gouvêa, Marco Antônio Portela, Mauro Bandeira), a Rio de Janeiro based artist’s collective.


Where size matters.

In this travelling exhibition, artists are invited to produce work with minimal means and maximum conceptual and poetic power. In an art scene where works appear to be contaminated with ever increasing scale, “Nano” intends to provoke the inverse: to produce art that explores issues in visibility, mobility, and technology in small formats.

Each artist was asked to contribute a “nano-work” no bigger than 10 x 10 x 10 cm. Different from simple miniatures, the “nano-format” required the artist to propose a critique of scale in art and technology through whatever chosen means. The small scale enabled us to include as many artists as possible in a single exhibition space and thus materialize our art collective’s idea to create an inclusive exhibition different from the existing highly curated and institutionalized exhibition models.

Small things seem to awaken a sense of play and naive seduction. With the nano-format, we bring the viewer and the artist into a different realm of participation. The ‘metaphorical invisibility’ of each work beckons the viewer to carefully inspect and investigate the artwork in a very personal connection. It creates a space of intimacy and exposes hidden aspects to be decoded like drawn or written symbols waiting for the enchantment of discovery.

As part of the exhibition concept, in every new city we exhibit we invite a local curator/co-organizer to engage local artists in the show. With the nano-format it is possible to include as many artists as possible and promote artistic exchange within a single space.

The medium and theme were completely up to the artist. As organizers, rather than curators, we invited as many artists as we could fit in an exhibition space and welcomed all media and expressions.


What began as a collective show between 25 artists soon became a travelling exhibition which doubled in size in each new city and each new venue. Due to the success of our first exhibit in June 2005, we were soon invited by artists, gallerists and curators to exhibit in other cities. At the end of 4 years, we had done 7 exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic. All works fit in a carry-on bag and weigh no more than 10 kilos altogether.

The pressure to “curate” was great, but we only accepted to travel if all of the pieces from previous exhibitions came along. As we didn’t want this to be a showcase of Brazilian artists only, we preferred the exhibition to become an open platform of dialogue between our concept and the place where we exhibiting. After all, our proposition was all about inclusion. Once on site, we also teamed up with local artists and curators who took part in the exhibit as well. This generated an interesting exchange, a meeting place for artists and resulted in more audience participation, spurred new interest and created visibility for many more artists.

All pieces were so small they could fit in a carry-on bag, weighing approximately 10 kg. This allowed us to create the most feasible, most portable and lightest exhibition possible requiring no insurance and no transportation costs.

Nano-Exhibition 1. Rio de Janeiro, Galeria Arte em Dobro (commercial gallery), 2005. We partnered with a gallery and our initial selection had 25 artists. The small scale of the works allowed the production of multiple objects which feasible in terms of low-cost production for the artist and affordable acquisition by new collectors.

Nano-Participation 2. São Paulo, Paço das Artes (institutional space), 2005. One of our Rio artists took the exhibition to São Paulo with the intention to botch his participation in a collective exhibition to which he had been previously selected. He included the Nano exhibition instead of a series of his own works and additionally invited São Paulo artists who had been rejected by the said collective exhibition. We were now 55, and Nano became activism.

Nano-Intervention 3. Curitiba, Atelier Eliane Prolik (artist’s studio), 2005. Having participated in São Paulo, artist Eliane Prolik offered her studio for the third edition. We renamed it ”intervention” since we were totally free of the ‘art system’ and added 35 more Curitiba artists to the Rio and São Paulo crowd, totalling 90 works.

Nano-exposição 4. Belo Horizonte, Galeria Murilo Castro (commercial gallery). We travel again and add some ‘mineiros’ to our team and the show becomes really high class in 300 m2 of gallery footprint.

Nano-exposición 5. ArtBo, Bogotá, Colombia, 2005 (contemporary art fair stand). By invitation of Colombian curator Maria Iovino, Nano made it to the biggest contemporary art fair in Colombia. We added 35 Colombian artists to our core of 90 Brazilians. Our stand was located right next to a stand showcasing Miró and Picasso. We arrived with a small suitcase. They struggled to find buyers. We had 3000 visitors in 4 days and were the most popular stand at the fair. Collector Ernesto Gaviria, also ex-President of Colombia, acquired quite a few of our works. He didn’t buy the Picasso.

Nano-exposição 6. Vitória, Brazil, Galeria UFES (University student-run gallery). Totalled 150 works. The suitcase containing the pieces was stolen from the truck on the way back to Rio, mistaken for precious goods. Nano recovers most works after police inquiry.

Nano-utställningen 7. Stockholm, Sweden, Studio44 (artist-run space). 80 Brazilians, 100 Swedes under one roof. The last time these two countries came massively together had been in the World Cup 1958. With the generous support of the Brazilian Embassy and the wonderful collaboration by Studio44, we managed live TV coverage, a feature in Dagens Nyheter ‘På Stan”, and more than 1000 visitors in 3 weeks in a non-commercial and off-circuit space in Stockholm.