Gogó da Emma (Ostrich’s Adam’s Apple) was the name given to an S shaped, gravity defying palm tree that grew in Maceio, Brazil and became a symbol of the city for decades. Beaten by the strong waves of the Atlantic Ocean and neglected by local authorities the palm tree didn't resist and plummeted in the sea in 1951. It soon became a symbol of Brazil’s northeastern culture and identity, epitomizing people’s strength in face of difficulties and their ability to overcome Nature’s challenges like drought and famine and adapting to a new environment.
The origin of this symbol is also rooted in a tale from Brazilian Folklore according to which a strong and beautiful warrior was captured after a three day battle and fell in love with a virgin from the enemy tribe. The couple ran away together walking for days on end without food or water and by the time they finally reached the seaside the girl was almost dying of starvation and thirst. In order to save his beloved one the warrior asked Tupã, their god supreme, to turn him into a coconut tree so he could feed her and offer her what to drink. After growing vigorously towards the sky -as trees normally do- he noticed he was moving away from her so he curved himself towards her and she was able to reach the coconuts. Years later when she passed away and her soul rose to the skies he began growing upwards again towards her and that is how the tree’s famous silhouette was shaped.
Emma Thomas Gallery -as Brazil itself - is currently attuning to a scenario of social, political and economical unrest. Along with its ongoing cultural program in São Paulo the gallery lays its first steps into new uncharted territories as a way to overcome present day challenges and paradigms. Just like for the palm tree the time to curve back up and face the sky has come, and the exhibition Gogo da Emma is a celebration of the Gallery's Arrival in New York and to all the movements we perform in our quest for survival and transcendence.
This Brazilian collective art occupation was curated by Fernando Quitério and Thiago Gonçalves (Residency Unlimited)