If you’re looking for tropical beaches populated by beautiful people, you’ll find them in Brazil. You won’t find them in the Wexner Center’s new building-wide exhibition, “Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil.” But you will find lots of other things, some of which you’ll like more than others. For example: ▪ A trio of adjoining video screens showing a man struggling with, respectively, a tree, a goat and an angry crab. (Weird!) ▪ A wall topped with jagged glass. (Don’t touch!) ▪ A lighted cabinet filled with rotting oranges. (Hmmm…) In all, 35 artists contributed to the ambitious art show, which is part of the Wex’s ongoing “Via Brasil” project. If none of them produced works that fit Americans’ image of the land that gave us the 1960s hit “The Girl From Ipanema,” that’s probably because they’re too busy responding to their own reality. “I think the greatest thing about the show,” said Luiza Baldan, a featured photographer from Rio de Janeiro, “is it’s not a typical cliché about Brazil.” A similar sentiment was sounded by Paulo Venancio Filho, a Brazilian art historian who co-curated the show along with Wexner officials Jennifer Lange and Bill Horrigan. The exhibition reflects the fact that Brazil is a complex land, Filho said, one that’s no longer defined by familiar aspects such as its tropical climate, soccer and “Carnaval.” “It’s not that these things don’t exist anymore, but they’ve kind of melted into a broader experience of things,” he said. Unfortunately, Brazil also is a land facing problems such as poverty and political strife, and they’re also reflected in the show, he said. For proof, check out one of the exhibition’s bigger displays. In the video O levante (The Uprising) and a related installation, Jonathas de Andrade focuses on the city of Recife and its policy of banning the horses that many poor residents rely on for their livelihood. He wanted to call attention to the issue by organizing a horse-cart race through the city’s streets, but the only way he could obtain permission was by telling officials the race was part of a dramatic film he was shooting. Was de Andrade, in effect, pulling an Argo? “I don’t know the movie you talk about,” the 31-year-old artist said. “But actually, the film was a pretext that made it possible to make the real event—to make the race.” Then, after fooling officials into letting him organize and film the race in 2012, de Andrade turned his footage into a video that characterized the event as a protest against the city’s anti-horse policies. It wasn’t, but real-life protests actually developed in 2013 when the city announced plans to institute even stricter policies. “That made the carters be very unhappy about it because it’s not only their living but also a cultural heritage that is being oppressed,” he said. Not all of the pieces featured in “Cruzamentos” take on Brazil’s inequalities quite so directly. In Cao Guimaraes’s Gambiarras mosaico, for example, a wall’s worth of photos show the clever ways in which cash-strapped Brazilians find cheap solutions to everyday problems. (The collage’s first name comes from a Portuguese verb that means “to make do.”) Still other works deal with universal topics such as sexuality. Sculpting, a video by the same artist, shows rusty chains being dragged up and down an upright pole in a way that appears both painful and provocative. Though the motion at first seems mechanical, a closer look offers evidence that the pole is part of a dock and that the chain is attached to a bobbing boat. Whatever the video actually depicts, the effect is the same. “Looks super sensual to me,” an art enthusiast commented at the exhibition’s opening. Expanding on her statement that “Cruzamentos” transcends national clichés, photographer Baldan stressed: “It’s not ‘about’ Brazil.” Even when the artists deal with Brazilian issues, she said, they don’t “bring the flag”—meaning they don’t feel the need to do it in ways that reflect a stereotypical national identity. “I think that’s something that is happening all over the world, if you think about it.” “Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil” will be on display through April 20 at the Wexner Center, 1871 N. High St. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.