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. This was the only issue that explicitly stated the group’s objective, presented a few months earlier at the “Exposição-Manifesto de 1976,” also known as “Ongoing Activities.” Nervo Óptico was published on the occasion of a group show at a commercial gallery in Porto Alegre, that is, “when it found its context,” in keeping with its epigraph, written by Mário Pedrosa.
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.
Before the publication was founded, the artists who would create Nervo Óptico met at a two-day event (December 9 – 10, 1976) at the Museu de Arte do Rio Grande do Sul. The exhibition “Exposição Manifesto,” also known as “Atividades Continuadas,” showed objects, graphic artwork, photography, installations, art books, performances and debates. The idea was that it would become “an exhibition of creative experience with the community.” For a description of the group’s thinking about the artist’s role and creative potential beyond market conditions, see the document distributed during the exhibition .
In addition to the publication distributed at this early exhibition, the collective also established the Espaço N.O., which focused on the new media and experimental forms such as mail art, Xerox art, performances and installations. This cultural space also integrated music, theater, dance and literature into the visual arts. What’s more, the space opened its doors to courses, meetings and lectures about contemporary art. For more information, see the book Espaço NO: Eventos e Artistas Atuantes 1979-1982 (Porto Alegre: Galeria Chaves Espaço N.O., 1982).