# paisagemfabricada


Eu estava esperando achar algum lugar para publicar a tese em forma de artigo, mas como já se passou mais de um ano e até agora não consegui emplacar o texto, vai por aqui mesmo.

Hoje, quando leio, há várias citações, explicações, referências que mudaria e vários — tipo, váááários — parágrafos que cortaria ou tentaria resumir. Mas, de qualquer forma, segue ela na íntegra. Ela foi desenvolvida junto a uma exposição homônima que ocupou duas galerias do Hessel Museum of Art. As imagens vocês podem conferir neste post. E quem quiser ler em pdf, eis o arquivo.

Boa leitura!


There are several cities and countries that do not use names to mark their streets, as is the case in Ghana, several Japanese cities, or even Brazil’s favelas. In each instance, there exist different relationships with this nomenclature system that can be understood in terms of targeted interference in the way locals navigate inside the city or even from a political perspective that explains a division of classes present in society. What is common between them is that the names that appear at street corners have a much greater meaning than being just a simple name: they can (and are) used as a mechanism of control by the government or private companies to guide us in how to relate to the urban space. The nomenclature then goes beyond being a mere word, becoming what I call an urban commodity. In other words, it is an intrinsic system of the urban environment that has value in and of itself and is used by the macrostructure to plan, monitor, and control society.

In the case of Ghana, for example, the government received financial support from the World Bank and USAID fund to map, mark, number, and name the streets of the country. Using the argument that more than 50% of the population now lives in urban areas, the aim was to enable telephone companies and financial institutions to more easily track those who do not pay their bills. Until then, companies were at the mercy of knowing the place and asking locals for a few references (such as a specific tree or some most notorious resident) to locate the debtor – which could take weeks to happen. Now, with the new system, financial institutions can quickly collect what is owed. In addition, international funds use the argument that it will bring greater revenues for the country, so it should encourage investment in mapping, and they could lend money to the government – thus increasing its external debt. As USAID’s webpage itself says:

Many challenges remain to meet the vice president’s goal of implementing the guidelines throughout the 212 districts of the country. Conservative estimates based on USAID’s experience with five districts suggest that Ghana would need at least $30 million to implement the program nationwide. This estimate does not include the major cities, as cost may vary depending on size. The Ghanaian Government may have to solicit these funds from external sources.1

What can be seen in this case is that the naming of streets is more than just the name, but something that has value in itself and is used to order and structure the urban environment. Japanese cities, however, instead of using nomenclatures, prefer to use a number system for blocks, leaving the streets in these areas without specific names. To find one’s way in the urban space, then one must develop a familiarity with the area by asking locals or using a GPS system. The navigation is not intuitive, which makes the passerby interact more actively with the space to try to find what they need.2

On the other hand, the favelas of Brazil also don’t have names for the streets, but for different reasons. While in the Japanese cities the government decided to adopt a number system for demarcation, due to the unregulated occupation of the slums, the region expands depending of the arrival of new families and not according to the number of available homes. They are heavily populated areas that do not respond directly to the offers of the real estate market as, generally, the lots are illegal. In these regions, the (lack of) names of streets are related to the economic status of its residents and the lack of government interest in regulating this situation. Therefore, the nomenclature becomes something of pride to the communities living in the slums, since when they have their space demarcated they feel included in a city that sees them as an outcast. Even Google Maps, when mapping the city of Rio de Janeiro, decided not to go to the slums, using violence and narrow streets as an argument.3

The use of the term urban commodity is a provocation to demonstrate that the mere naming is also something that can be used for purposes beyond spatially locating a resident. This term for this end seeks to clarify how the naming system is used to leverage up the real estate market in specific areas of the city in order to convince residents to accept increasingly exorbitant prices per square meter in some neighborhoods. This is the case with Bushwick, Brooklyn, for example. Because of increasing gentrification process, the real estate market changes the name of the region of some parts of the neighborhood so that tenants or buyers will identify a region as being more highly valued than it really is.4 In this sense, a buyer does not only buy an apartment, but an entire nexus of signifying interrelations related to the idea of a locality. Thus, when buying an apartment on the Upper West Side in New York, or in Jardins in São Paulo, the consumer is not only buying a place to live, but also a symbolic status and a whole network that is behind that name, that created brand. The researcher Raquel Rennó has theorized a connection between the language used in marketing and how the real estate market has appropriated it to try to sell a brand, a concept behind a product.

To say that someone is the resident of Morumbi or Jardins [rich neighborhoods], at the same way to say that another one is resident of Itaquera or Cidade Ademar [poor neighborhoods], by itself, it already allows one to create an idea of the social class to which an individual belongs. These are images which reflect the crystallization of values invested in spaces.5

One of the reasons for discussing this system in this thesis is that this very mechanism can be found either in the gentrification process or in attempts to control communities living in urban spaces. In some cases, when a community is gentrified, the new residents – or even the real estate market – strives to change the names of streets or even of entire neighborhoods in order to erase its history and build a new one, as was the case in Bushwick mentioned above. Moreover, politicians also use this same trick in return for favors, to try other political positions or even for reelection. It is a form of political bargaining between politicians and the communities that elected them (as is explained in further detail in Italo Calvino’s section).

Calvino’s Invisible Cities, for example, among the various cities described in the book, contains a story about one that has no names to identify the streets and passages. The residents of Zaira must rely only on their memory and the marks left on the urban infrastructure as a way to navigate. Urban infrastructure refers here to the physical buildings that exist in space, whether they be houses, overpasses, bridges, sidewalks, and so on. Thus, the history of Zaira’s residents is embedded in space itself and a reference is needed in order to navigate in its space.

Just as the history of the inhabitants leaves marks on the infrastructure, the infrastructure itself also influences the way one operates in a city. This question is addressed in the work of VALIE EXPORT. For her, the cities’ architecture is responsible for shaping how our bodies behave, altering even psychologically how we understand ourselves and the urban space.

Milton Machado, in turn, extracts the social relations present in urban space to create an abstraction over the anxiety of progress and development represented by the cities. For Machado, there is a never-attainable idealization by urban planners of what would be a perfect urban space (based on developmental values), which leads them to implement these projects without even understanding the real social demands at work in those spaces. The characters present in History of the Future are fractions of a single personality which represent how the social aspect is forgotten in the eagerness for progress. Although they keep cities living (such as the Nomad), they are also expelled, killed, and forced to maintain a synchronous relation with the imposed change (represented by the Module of Destruction).

Machado’s initial idea was to try to connect all of the continents in order to create the single continent of Pangea. No borders, no boundaries of nations, no barriers. The sovereignty of nations, which is associated with a nomenclature used to define territorial areas, would then be called into question, and another mode of relationship between different cultures could arise. This subject is explored by Teresa Margolles when interviewing residents of the cities of El Paso, USA, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, about their impressions of those cities. El Paso and Ciudad Juárez are cities divided by the border between the two countries. Even though they share the same urban space, this boundary creates a dissociation of the two sides and how its residents see each other.

It is interesting to see how the question of territoriality is viewed from different perspectives. While Machado creates an abstraction to end it and Margolles points to the current political problems in national divisions, Claudio Bueno presents another variation: how the virtual can hack the physicality required for monuments that represent the history of a particular place. The Invisible Monuments series use the virtual to establish new monuments in places that would be impossible if they were actually built. In the case of the Chant des Sirènes, Bueno has created a mobile app that contains a sound monument celebrating the history of women killed in the First and Second World Wars. The work can only be accessed when the coordinates of a mobile phone’s GPS enters the Old Port of Québec, in Canada. While the other monuments in the region exalt the male figure and tell a history chosen without necessarily involving the population, Bueno’s invisible monuments demonstrate a more democratic approach to selecting which history should be told.

As has become clear by now, the object of study of this thesis is not gentrification per se, but how the naming mechanism can be understood through different biases. This work therefore does not present arguments about only one system used to change the urban center, but rather about the social consequences that these instances of interference have. By avoiding the description just to situate the object, it is possible to focus on the inter- and intra-relationships that occur in the urban space. It is a work of an ethologist, so to speak, as Andrew Goffey explains in the introduction of the book “Capitalist Sorcery.” To Goffey, the ethologist studies the relationships of animals with their environment instead of trying to describe in concrete ways what the animal is in and of itself. Only in this way it is possible to understand what a particular animal may cause in its inhabitat and its interference in the ecosystem.

Ethology requires us to focus a little more closely on the relationship that is established between the animal and the ethologist, a focus that, transposed to the field of politics should lead to a more nuanced understanding of the way in which capitalism constantly reorganizes itself to prevent people getting a hold. The vampire squids of capitalism engage in the creation of ‘infernal alternatives’.6

Studying the control mechanisms of a city only by the description and not by its social relations is to fall into what the authors Philippe Pignarre and Isabelle Stengers refer to as “infernal alternatives,” which is to say “a scientist whose professional certainties about what are the right questions to ask can lead him or her to adopt a frighteningly dismissive stance with regard to anything that falls outside this position.”7 The problem of falling into an “infernal alternative” is getting stuck on issues where the answer appears hollow in relation to the question, or the results do not associate the object with the explanation (“getting hold”). For the authors, when an anti-capitalist struggle appears, one has the idea that only a divine intervention could interfere in the economic productive mechanisms, as if there weren’t a right answer to the question about how to change it.8 It is to avoid this feeling of powerlessness in relation to capitalism that they advocate for a pragmatic analysis, which is “an art of consequences, an art of ‘paying attention’ that is opposed to the philosophy of the omelette justifying the cracked eggs.”9 In other words, this method does not want to justify an anti-capitalist struggle based on the problems of capitalism itself, but to understand what consequences the conflict has on the environment in which it operates. It is for this reason that this thesis seeks to understand the effects of nomenclature inside the urban environment. It is an attempt to question not only how urban planning is currently conducted in large cities, but also to stress the social relationships with the city’s infrastructure using interventions and works of art as a platform for the argument

To avoid possible descriptions of the systems, this thesis focuses on using utopian thinking to understand the consequences of how the nomenclature affects the urban environment. Instead of doing a critique which sets up a dichotomous structure between two objects – one being considered good and the other bad – and having a descriptive syntax, this thesis takes a more imaginative approach. Rather than working in terms of mimesis (what the subject really is), it is preferable to make way for a project of possibility (what the object can be). The “radical critique” thus no longer lies in the descriptive aspect and the comparison of objects of analysis, but in creating an imaginable future – a utopian creation to real issues surrounding our life in society10. This is the utopian exercise being proposed here: working with this “it could be” to find out what really happens.

Each chapter focuses on the work of one artist and explains different views on this nomenclature system for urban areas. The intent is to demonstrate the different ways of understanding the cities and to problematize the social issues about how we relate in this environment.


the organic interfering in the infrastructure

In vain, great-hearted Kublai, shall I attempt to describe Zaira, city of high bastions. I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and the degree of the arcades’ curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past: the height of a lamppost and the distance from the ground of a hanged usurper’s swaying feet; the line strung from the lamppost to the railing opposite and the festoons that decorate the course of the queen’s nuptial procession; the height of that railing and the leap of the adulterer who climbed over it at dawn; the tilt of a guttering and a cat’s progress along it as he slips into the same window; the firing range of a gunboat which has suddenly appeared beyond the cape and the bomb that destroys the guttering; the rips in the fish net and the three old men seated on the dock mending nets and telling each other for the hundredth time the story of the gunboat of the usurper, who some say was the queen’s illegitimate son, abandoned in his swaddling clothes there on the dock.

As this wave from memories flows in, the city soaks it up like a sponge and expands. A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira’s past. The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.11

In 1972, the Italian author Italo Calvino published a book in which, in one chapter, he describes a city with an absence of street names. In Invisible Cities, Marco Polo narrates different cities in the kingdom of the emperor Kublai Khan in a conversation that never took place, since the two did not speak the same language. Interweaving descriptions with imaginary conversations between the two characters, Calvino points to several ways of looking at and interpreting a single city, Venice, without necessarily specifying that it was only a single object of study. In his work, the object is broken into several facets, which helps reveal how complex the urban environment and the social interactions are that occur within its structure. This happens in a town that is discovered because several men had the same dream of chasing an unattainable muse (Zobeide, which was also used by critics to explain one of VALIE EXPORT works12), to one in which the streets were devoid of names, which forced its residents to use their memories for each part of the city as guidance (Zaira). Calvino, in this story, speculates about what happens when the streets are only associated with the history of its residents: Citizens relate to the structure in a much more intimate way and based in their own use of it. The urban infrastructure, rather than being only a lifeless structure without any emotional attachment, becomes part of the experience. Each mark left by the residents of Zaira helps in its description and the navigability for its alleys. Each social interaction – as the drinking fishermen at the pier – is not an ephemeral feature but clings to the space as a present and ever-changing story. Instead of relating based on references that are often times imposed (such as street names generally are), it is on memory and experience with the city that one navigates through the urban environment.13

This intimate feature is worth mentioning, not least because it was well understood by urban planners, who often looked into the past names and events that could represent a certain street in a specific neighborhood, as exemplified by the 9/11 attacks in New York14 or by roads with the names of generals who were part of the Brazilian Dictatorship15. What might be regarded as being something that is healthy to urban life, however, can be also considered as an aspect of a control mechanism that is imposed on its residents. Although this provides a closer connection to the reality of the citizens (names and historical facts with which the community identifies itself), there is no critical questioning about its own use or real function. When a community is seen as being historically represented only by a name, there is the illusion of belonging to that site, which is often not considered in future public policies as is seen in cases of gentrification managed and organized by city administrations (Bushwick, again, is a good example16). The relationship between citizens and the nomenclature is sometimes so closely linked that most of the efforts of politicians elected to represent a district are restricted to changing these names. In São Paulo, Brazil, for instance, a 2012 survey found out that, only in the first half of that year, eight of ten projects approved by the City Council were to change street names, add celebratory dates, or give titles or do homage to personalities.17 In other words, it is no longer the residents who define this or that name, this or that memory, but rather politicians and urban planners belonging to the macrostructure and who have little or almost no direct contact with those who live and have a daily life on that particular street. History in relation to urban space is not told or written by the communities living in it, but by politicians far removed from the reality of day-to-day life.

This gap becomes more evident when a given region undergoes renovations and reconstructions that have almost nothing to do with the social aspect of the neighborhood. Instead of intensifying what happens in certain communities, urban planners and authorities seek to construct viaducts to improve traffic (Robert Moses comes to mind18); design piazzas in regions with no benches to sit on (Jan Gehl19); stimulate large hypermarkets to establish their businesses in places where the commerce is more local (again Moses); and many other examples of structural changes forcefully pushed upon the citizens who live there and have a direct relationship with the pulsating life of that space. The activist Jane Jacobs has stated:

Cities are an immense laboratory of trial and error, failure and success, in city building and city design. This is the laboratory in which city planning should have been learning and forming and testing its theories. Instead the practitioners and teachers of the discipline (if such it can be called) have ignored the study of success and failure in real life, have been incurious about the reasons for unexpected success, and are guided instead by principles derived from the behavior and appearance of towns, suburbs, tuberculosis sanatoria, fairs, and imaginary dream cities – from anything but cities themselves.20

There is a visible gap between what is done with the urban structure and what the population of that region really needs or wants. Cities are created as the result of the imagination of a specific group of people and violently applied to communities who live in these neighborhoods. Generally, the planning process does not pass through society’s inquiry to provide feedback and define what should be done with the urban space21. The communities are rarely consulted to approve the renovation plans; they are simply forced to live with the planned changes. Richard Sennett in his book “The Uses of Disorder” discusses the relationship between urban planning and the communities affected by the restructuring. According to him,

professional planners of highways, of redevelopment housing, of inner-city renewal projects have treated challenges from displaced communities or community groups as a threat to the value of their plans rather than as natural part of the effort at social reconstruction.22

From this imposed perspective, the nomenclature of streets becomes a commodity. It is a way of applying the city plan to its citizens in order to control their behaviors and thus segment society into different identities and groups. The term urban commodity, however, is understood in different ways. Sennett, for instance, considers the concept of community as a commodity belonging to cities, as if the principle of a group identity was intrinsic to the urban space.23 According to his theories, it is through the identification and separation of groups that a city’s population can be controlled. It is a control imposed not only by the macrostructure, but also through an attachment to an identity that happens within the urban environment which, therefore, makes easier to identify who is the Other. Urban planners just use this identification to create their plans and increasingly segregate society. For Sennett, it is through this contraposition that communities attempt to preserve the “purity” of a group, avoiding contact with anyone who is different. This is more apparent in the distinction of rich and poor neighborhoods, or linked to religion or race. Each community or group identity tries to sustain invisible barriers against the other in order to maintain the purity and the moral values present in that community. No wonder that, at the end of his book “The Uses of Disorder,” Sennett argues for an urban area without divisions or classifications, in which the exchange between groups may occur through antagonisms between conflicting identities. Only in this way can an organic and open environment for urban constructions be created that is focused on what people want and is not imposed by urban planners. According to Sennett,

For when predetermined use through zoning is eliminated, the character of a neighborhood will depend on the specific bonds and alliances of the people within it; its nature will be determined by social acts and the burden of those acts over time as a community’s history. The pre-planned “image” of city neighborhoods would not be definable on a planner’s map; it would depend on how the individuals of the neighborhood dealt with each other.24

That’s why a city without a defined nomenclature, as already shown by Calvino with his description of Zaira, transforms the urban space into something more organic, less imposed, and more open to social interference. There is then no imposition of limits to a particular community, thus opening the city map to less controlled interventions. Furthermore, although the understanding of urban commodity in this thesis is not directly limited to, it references what Friedrich Engels and Georg Simmel argue about the urban environment in a capitalist system. For the former, the urban structure developed by macrostructure is a way to control the working class and prevent an idea of collectivity. It is a force in the service of capital in order to maintain the status quo in society, thus restraining the emergence of a real urban culture. On the other hand, for Simmel, there is a dissociation between the individual and the urban space thanks to the impersonal rationalism imposed by capital, making the cities into control centers to keep the use-value and production of the working class25. These ideas, however, were reread by Henry Lefebvre, who argues for a revolution that no longer emerges from the industrial environment, but from inside the cities. As David Harvey explains:

In invoking the “working class” as the agent of revolutionary change throughout his text, Lefebvre was tacitly suggesting that the revolutionary working class was constituted out of urban rather than exclusively factory workers. This, he later observed, is a very different kind of class formation – fragmented and divided, multiple in its aims and needs, more often itinerant, disorganized and fluid rather than solidly implanted.26

The fluidity inside the urban space and the plurality of groups and communities who work within the urban environment are addressed by several other authors who advocate for an antagonism in order to maintain the public space as a stage for democratic discourse. Chantal Mouffe, for example, argues for a “radical democracy” considering the struggle between different groups as a way to reach a real democracy against what is hegemonic.27 Rosalyn Deutsche’s arguments, on the other hand, explore how art in public spaces may – or may not – involve and engage citizens on issues about their space, stimulating debates about what is private or really public.28 It is quite significant that Deutsche uses the figure of the homeless as a starting point for her argument about the truly public character of areas administered by neighborhood associations. According to her, the idea of an Other who, for the dominant group, can cause disturbance is the necessary conflict to highlight the use of public spaces for private purposes, or for activities that are only permitted or controlled by a small group. It is through this antagonism that appears the different understandings of what a public space is and how the privatization of parks and public areas happens.

The privatization of public space is one of the starting points for Lefebvre’s argument about the right to the city. The commodification of urban space transformed the cities into an impersonal infrastructure in which “the urban remains in a state of dispersed and alienated actuality, the kernel and virtuality.”29 The commodification discussed in his work is more focused on the influence of capital in physical urban space, which generates new structural buildings, new stores and markets, and types of consumerism. It is the stimulus to consumption and not to social activities that transforms the city into something alienated from organic life. Thus, the city is regarded as a utopian object of interpretation, since it is not studied considering its entire historical trajectory:

Yet, the urban remains in a state of dispersed and alienated actuality, as kernel and virtuality. What the eyes and analysis perceive on the ground can at best pass for the shadow of a future object in the light of a rising sun. It is impossible to envisage the reconstitution of the old city, only the construction of a new one on new foundations, on another scale and in other conditions, in another society. The prescription is: there cannot be a going back (towards the traditional city), nor a headlong flight, towards a colossal and shapeless agglomeration. In other words, for what concerns the city the object of science is not given. The past, the present, the possible can not be separated. What is being studied is a virtual object, which thought studies, which calls for new approaches.30

In other words, rather than cities directly responding to what happens inside them, they are artificially designed for a purpose that often contradicts the regular and organic use of their infrastructure. According to Sennett, when urban planners are hired for large projects, there is no concern for the lives of its inhabitants, but rather their primary goal relates to the economic interrelationships that happen with other cities and regions.31 The changes are designed to ensure that the flow of goods and trade between municipalities happens fluidly and without obstructions. This perspective is essential to the city life; after all, the urban environment inside a capitalist system necessarily needs to generate funding sources for the survival of its residents. The problem arises when the residents who would benefit from this tangle that assists in economic relations are forgotten and even have certain constraints of life imposed on them that have nothing to do with what they want. The projects end up seeming artificial and inconsistent with reality32.

The city created by Italo Calvino, finally, is a demonstration of how social relations within cities might happen without an imposed urban commodity acting in citizens lives. Moreover, it also shows that the organic construction of a city, where the experience of use becomes an important factor for orientation, is a characteristic that should be considered and even encouraged. In this way, different identities are able to relate to each other, not being avoided through invisible barriers but considered and included in daily life. Consideration of the other’s experience in the urban space is needed in order to understand the particular locality and thus navigate through its streets.


the infrastructure interfering in the organic

ValieExportVALIE EXPORT. “Abrundung II (Round Off II)” (1976)


In this discussion about urban space, the body’s relationship with the structure of the city is also affected. How architecture and urban structures are created is a way of mediating how the body interacts with the space itself. VALIE EXPORT, as she stated, considers the body to be expansive. Unlike the discussions in groups of Viennese Actionists, which dealt the women’s body as a three-dimensional object in space, EXPORT “releases the body into the mobility of interrelations signifying.”33 In other words, she adds the body in an analysis of relationships between the communication system in which it is inserted and how the body reacts to this through expressions caused by mental and emotional concerns. In this way, the architecture simultaneously influences the body and the mind, shaping and framing our behavior in this urban environment. This understanding is present in almost all of her work. EXPORT explores how her body is a support that interferes in the production of a film and its environment (Adjungierte Dislokationen) to the forms that the city imposes to its inhabitants, as in the work Abrundung II (Round Off II).

Based in her works, the artist seems to state that architecture and urban space could be used to shape internal states of the body, in which lines and geometric shapes accentuate the imposition of architecture or even landscapes in relation to the body. From this influence not only our physical structure is affected, but also our minds and behavior to the environment in which we operate. EXPORT’s performances, and photographic and video records illustrate that the control within an environment is not necessarily only because of communication systems (although, for her, it is extremely important), but also the physical structure in which we operate. The urban infrastructure thus has no way to be neutral or totally oblivious to the presence and interaction of its citizens. It dictates how our body reacts and interacts with the imposed system in order to shape our behaviors and relationships we have within this environment.

An interesting group for drawing a parallel with the discussions raised by EXPORT are the Situationists. For example, their conceptualization of psychogeography calls into question the idea of the urban space as being something that is imposed, since participants simply walk around town without a defined direction (“dérive”). Or, when they had one, they were encouraged to respond affectively to the encounters they had and change the trajectory (“détournment”).34 Each map, each locality, was shaped according to the personality and experience of each one, which only would be possible if one considers the city to be an open stage for different opportunities and perceptions. While still working with an imposed structure, the Situationists – which included Lefebvre and Guy Debord – questioned in a playful way the perception we have of it, and also challenged the participants to think about cities as something different: as an open and constructive process built from the experiences of each one. It is a search for ways to bypass the control forced by urban planners and the imposition of consumption created by a capitalist system. For them, both ideas of “détournement” and “dérive” are essential to circumventing the system created by the spectacle of consumption. The former can be translated “most simply as ‘diversion,’ though at the loss of the nuances encoded in the original French – ‘rerouting,’ ‘hijacking,’ ’embezzlement,’ ‘misappropriation,’ ‘corruption,’ all acts implicit in the Situationist’s use of society’s ‘preexisting aesthetic elements.’”35 And for the latter, “one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.”36

It is also important to note that, according to some members of the group, these discussions about the opening of the cities were not only applied to capitalist cities, but also to those with other economic systems. Although it is not an ideal shared by all members, it is interesting to understand that the city can be understood not only by an imposing economic system, but also in a predominantly social one. But what connects the different sections and discussions of the Situationists is the imposition of something oblivious to the body, the organic, the life that is in city streets.

[Raoul] Vaneigem refused to distinguish the urbanism of communist and capitalist states: “Urbanism and information are complementary in both capitalist and ‘anti-capitalist’ societies: they organize silence.” In both the East and the West, he claimed, “the ideal urbanism is the projection in space of a social hierarchy without conflict. Roads, lawns, natural flowers, and artificial forests lubricate the workings of subjection and render them amicable.” It had to be understood that urbanism regulated the body and the mind as well as architecture. “In a novel by Yves Touraine,” Vaneigem recalled, “the State even offers retired workers an electronic masturbator; economy and happiness find themselves complete.”37

Another group member, Asger Jorn, for example, had a more open understanding of urban areas. Trying to go against the imposition of the modernist Le Corbusier, Jorn believed that the architectural construction in the work of Corbusier was functionalist and it divided cities and districts based on categories and groupings, separating where a family with children should live and a neighborhood with housing for the elderly.38 There was a clear division between groups as to which spaces each profile should inhabit. Thus, segregation formed the basis for a more functional city and was less concerned about the social and organic aspects of relationships.

Jorn’s underlying claim was that ‘the framework for living’ was not one that could be imposed from outside, externally, by city planners and architects. It had to be built in co-operation with the inhabitants of the city themselves, whose free input was needed, just as the skeleton needed the muscles and the stalk the sap.39

As much as EXPORT has not necessarily discussed urban planning, she understood the imposition created by the macrostructure and how it affected the way we relate to the urban infrastructure. Her perception of the city was fully connected to the body, and she applied this organic understanding to the urban environment. For EXPORT, for example, the city did not have a specific gender, but embodied both the masculine and the feminine in its forms: “feminine in its housing, sheltering, and protecting life, masculine in its traffic, commerce, and communication.”40 And EXPORT sees this structure as liberating to women while imprisoning them at the same time:

If the city can exclude women, as a cultural community in which men alone transact business, govern the nation, and enforce the laws, it can also free women for the first time from their isolation in the private home.

The act of folding herself in a corner and intensifying the rays of a curve point to a violent architectural imposition. It is not the architecture that molds the organic, but rather the rigid structure that shapes the way we act and move around the space. This imposition is intimately connected to the distance urban planners have from the object of analysis (“the virtual object,” as stated by Lefebvre in Italo Calvino’s section). Social life, again, is forgotten for the sake of something considered superior by the planners, such as the ideal city or economic progress.

In this case, for this study, it is important to emphasize how a city that does not think in a specific urban commodity – such as the nomenclature of the streets – can resignify EXPORT’s exploration of architecture interfering in the internal states of the body. Without these mechanisms of control, the body would have another meaning: an agent that could modulate the spaces. The absence of impositions by the macrostructure would make the citizens agents of the changes in the living environment. It would define the space which, inevitably, shapes us.

Another issue with which EXPORT is concerned is considering the communication system responsible for psychosomatic changes of the body. In other words, from a Situationist perspective, the media system imposed by new technologies affects the state of mind of cities’ residents in order to change even how their bodies function. Guy Debord was one of the authors which posited and strongly criticized it this interference, arguing that it is exclusively for the purpose of increasing consumerism.41 For him, there is a bigger concern with the stimulus of consumption than with the people’s real lives. According to Debord,

But on the whole this introduction of technology into everyday life – ultimately taking place within the framework of modern bureaucratized capitalism – certainly tends rather to reduce people’s independence and creativity. The new prefabricated cities clearly exemplify the totalitarian tendency of modern capitalism’s organization of life: the isolated inhabitants… see their lives reduced to the pure triviality of the repetitive combined with the obligatory absorption of an equally repetitive spectacle.42

In other words, the mind alters the functioning of the body when receiving and being influenced by these information networks. By throwing the body into a corner and illustrating the issue of urban structure shaping the erect state, EXPORT makes a poetic critique of this interference, creating a state of awareness about the extent to which the city influences its residents. It may be for this reason that EXPORT no longer wants to think of the body only as a physical entity in space, but in its expansion through the context in which it is inserted. “While this dialectic exchange between body and culture is most evident in EXPORT’s performance, it is one of the major concerns of all of her art.”43

Thinking about the possibility of something happening beyond the expected helps not only to understand the mechanisms that generate the expectation, but also to think in new ways and means to understand the establishment. VALIE EXPORT’s performances visually demonstrate the influence of architecture in the body and raise questions about how to understand this urban infrastructure. We are so used to its rigidity that it is difficult to understand how this interference happens. How can the framing of the body in this way be avoided? What structure can be influenced by the body? What is the probability of this happening? And how is it possible to understand and change the way urban planning is done today?


the organic and the infrastructure simultaneously interfering each other

serie1_1286309240Milton Machado “History of the Future – Series I” (1978)

Milton Machado, with some of these issues in mind, uses an assumption as the point of entry for his exploration of cities and urbanism that sounds somewhat absurd. What is the probability of a ping pong ball going through a wall when thrown by an arm? Scientists use this imaginary exercise to explore the understanding of atoms and question the very likelihood of an empirically impossible event being realized. In theory, however, the ball could go over the wall in one chance in 10 to the power of -n, where n tends to be equal to ∞45. For Milton, the issue is not just the ball, the wall, or the end result of the mathematical formula, but also the understanding of probability as a viable factor in the operation to create knowledge. As Machado states,

Students and teachers knew from their experience of the real natural world that balls would definitely not cross through walls. But they invented this fiction in order to create a new theoretical problem, and to find out more about atomic structures, intermolecular spaces, mass, densities, attritions and interactions. And about problems: it was in the name of physics that a fictional world was created. What the finite n ≠ ∞ in the index guarantees is this singular reality: the creation of a world.46

History of the Future, then, is the exploration in urban planning of this probability of something that will never occur. Machado created the work as an analysis about projections and social relations within the city space without the need to be put in practice. It is not a utopia or dystopia, but rather an atopia about urban planning. To this end, Machado extracted essences of the main ideas and relationships that happen in the urban environment, building an abstraction that challenges the idea of a city planner. For this thesis, Machado’s piece connects to the subject of imagining a city without urban commodities to show the root of all urban issues. In History of the Future, one can understand the desire for progress always present in contemporary cities, the social relations that cut across different conceptions of the urban environment, and even the creation of an ideal city, which could never be out of abstraction and actually put into practice.

For this task, Machado used as a starting point the idea of connecting the continents again, bringing back the first continent, Pangea, when there were no oceans or borders between terrestrial spaces. In the author’s theories, giant bridges interconnect the continents as a way of breaking barriers and boundaries. As the artist explains himself:

The idea for a project restoring physical unity between continents initially inspired and justified the graphic representations of the three superimposed worlds of HF and its fictitious characters. The concept was then significantly developed from the mere description of the mechanism, or rather the dynamic of the movements described, to critical reflections on the idea of unity as a general principle – thus ideal in character and large in scope – implicit in the project of affirming the human condition itself (an ideal already contained in the treatment of this same condition which is necessarily fragmentary and recurrently “as a whole”), and on the idea of progress – in which the pursuit of ideas of perfection provides a paradigm and method – which lends to the cognitive process (“as a whole,” so to speak) a similarly ideal character. 47

MiltonMachado_CitiesSubdivisions between the three worlds theorized in History of The Future

Machado then idealized spatial layers between different worlds: Machado calls the lower level, which shows the continents and cities we know, the Imperfect World; in the middle plane there is the Perfect World, a space where the structures linking continents support the plane above; and, finally, on the top plane, the More-than-Perfect World, an abstraction about the constant destruction and construction of cities, mainly idealized by urban planners.

In this scheme, Machado also posited three characters that relate to the urban structure: the Sedentary, the Subject to a Vulgar Death, and the Nomad. The three represent the social relationships that take place in an urban environment, demonstrating principles current in ideas of progress and development. These figures cannot be considered human or living characters – although the Sedentary has an anthropomorphic feature. They are representations of social relationships, each having specific functions within the History of the Future.

The Imperfect World contains Imperfect Cities, oceans, continents, and Symbolic Bridges. These are bridges that connect the continents and create a single continent, passing over borders and physical obstacles to get to other regions. It is in this world that rural life exists, besides the cities as we know today.

Above the Imperfect World, there is the Perfect World, consisting of the Pillars of the New World, the Ephemeral Bridges and the Ideal Plan. The pillars are vertical structures that have caves in their midst and sustain the Ephemeral Bridges and the Ideal Plan. The bridges are connections between the pillars for sustaining the Ideal Plan, which is a structure that serves as the foundation for the More-than-Perfect Cities.

The More-than-Perfect World then consists of the More-than-Perfect Cities and the Modules of Destruction. These modules are responsible for the constant destruction and construction of idealized cities. For this to happen, there are three cycles that ensure constant change: Destruction, Construction, and Life Cycles. They are cycles that happen at the same time, one in each city and forming a system of triads. While one More-than-Perfect City is in the destruction cycle, the second is in the construction cycle, and the third in the life cycle. In this plan, each city has its own Module of Destruction. The module, in turn, has four movements:

1) MD leaves the Alpha Position and turns to the Omega Position, destroying the More-than-Perfect City and making the Ideal Plan and the Pillars of the New World visible;

2) MD leaves the Omega Position and turns to the Alpha Position, destroying the Ideal Plan and making the Ephemeral Bridges, the Pillars of the New World, and the Imperfect World visible;

3) MD leaves the Alpha Position and heads again to the Omega Position, destroying the Ephemeral Bridges; and

4) the MD goes back to Alpha, destroying the Pillars of the New World.

The three characters are also part of the More-than-Perfect City. The Subject to a Vulgar Death is the character that waits for its death, allowing the MD to end its existence during the destruction of the More-than-Perfect City. The Sedentary, in turn, seeks to preserve its life entering the caves of the Ephemeral Bridges, passing by the Perfect World, and arriving to the Imperfect World. On the other hand, the Nomad has an intrinsic relationship with the MD. Its shape is a minute sphere, which allows it to go inside and divert from the MD and preserve its existence in the More-than-Perfect Cities.

In the movements of History of the Future, the presence of the Nomad is essential to understanding the flow and preservation of More-than-Perfect Cities. As Machado describes it:

The Nomad moves.
Motility is the Nomad’s motivation.
The Nomad is an invention.
The Nomad is a founder of cities.
The Nomad is an initiator.
The Nomad’s future is to initiate a city’s present.
The Nomad is a translator.
The movements of the Nomad are vectorial, not directional.
The Nomad acts through permanent deterritorialisation.
The Nomad acts through permanent reterritorialisation.
The Nomad acts through permanent transgressions.
The Nomad acts through permanent incorporations.
The Nomad acts through negation and excess.
The Nomad acts through variation, expansion, conquest, capture and offshoots.
The Nomad collects but does not constitute albums.
The Nomad is not particularly fond of generals.
The Nomad is a producer of maps from which it is constantly detached.

The Nomad acts through the repetition and the reaffirmation of difference (more than one thousand times).
The Nomad is always in the middle (“
dans le milieu”), even when at the beginning or at the end.
The Nomad is always in the in-between.
The Nomad sees things as though for the first time.

The Nomad is the one responsible for keeping the cities alive and challenging the movements of the Module of Destruction. It is this idealized character that contests the imposition made by progress and development. When extracting the essences of social relations that occur inside the cities, Machado leverages the discussion to metaphysics and epistemology.

The study developed by Machado since 1978 is influenced mainly by philosophers, such as Arthur Danto, Jean-François Lyotard, and Karl Marx. Padre Antonio Vieira, however, who published in 1718 a book titled with the same name as Machado’s piece is the most interesting of them all.49 What is interesting in the context of this thesis is understanding the influence the work of Padre Antonio Vieira has in Machado’s own studies. Vieira’s History of the Future questions how predictions about the future can be considered in Catholic precepts. Vieira, with his famous rhetoric, explains that the prediction of the future by a mortal being is a desecration condemned by Catholicism. For Catholics, this ability should be restricted to those who are considered holy. But, at the same time, he believes that mortals can do the same thing, as it was prophets who wrote the Bible – although the forecast has been made by God, and the prophets only used their pens to write. There is a conflict about who can actually write about the events to come. Vieira’s book, for example, is an allegory of a future in which Portugal establishes the Fifth World Empire, conquering and dominating all territories already known by the reign. It is important to note that Vieira does not use the name of the country to compose the Fifth Empire, but instead uses the word “world.” According to him, many older societies viewed their reigns as the only existing world, as was the case with the Egyptians and the Assyrians. Vieira predicts the turn of Portugal and the Catholic Church to be the new hegemony of this world.

This was the World of the past, and this is the World of the present, and this will be the World of the future; and together these three worlds will form (as God formed them) an entire World. This is the subject of our History, and this the World’s empire that we promise. All that meets the sea, all that the Sun shines on, all that covers and surrounds the Sun, will be placed under the Fifth Empire; not by name or fanciful title, like all those who until now were called empires of the World, but by domain and real bondage. All reigns will unite in a center, all heads will obey the supreme head, all the crowns will perish in a single diadem, and this will be the pedestal of the cross of Christ.50

This domination of the entire planet, as if the world were only one, lacking divisions of nations or continents, speaks directly to the work of Machado, where the continents were reconnected through the Symbolic Bridges. The world theorized by Vieira is shown by Machado’s piece as the territory in which unity finally happens. There are no borders, frontiers, or governmental divisions – which is why Machado considered his studies to be atopian as opposed to utopian. None of the cities in the Imperfect World (the bottom level of his abstraction) have distinctions between themselves. It should be emphasized that the abstractions and theories created by Machado embody a pessimistic and ironic approach to urban planning, even though they are not a dystopia. Machado speculates on how cities are built using the same concepts that architects and planners use to argue for their projects. In the Imperfect World, the cities always need to be changed, altered, reconstructed through processes of constant renewal, mirroring the designs and structures theoretically considered perfect.

The reflection of History of the Future thus breaks any messianic logic, revealing that there is no more salvation on the horizon of time. The former catastrophe will continue to reproduce itself in the future, indefinitely, creating a new world each time. History is a game, almost a videogame, in which we risk our lives and have to make choices – few, within a pre-fixed range. We might succumb naively, simply await death, such as those Subject to a Vulgar Death. Or flee in despair, such as the Sedentary, producing the opposite movement to that of the symbolic machine: delving into the depths, believing in steady ground, in a reality separate from the game and able to resist its effects. Or we can take the roguish strategy of accompanying our own game, following the rhythm of its movements. Rolling like a little sphere is the figure of the Nomad, the emblem of the artist.51

The hierarchy that Machado created (with the Imperfect World below, the Perfect World in the middle, and the More-Than-Perfect World on top) demonstrates the will to achieve something that can never be reached. It is for this reason that the world at the top, where the Modules of Destruction, the Nomad, and the other characters are, is in constant change and renewal. It argues against the greed for revitalization and the constant need to plan the urban space. Because of this constant change, the characters are forced to move and find a way to avoid being destroyed in the route – although the Subject to a Vulgar Death is eventually destroyed during this process. The Sedentary, through the caves found in the Pillars of the New World, finds refuge in the Imperfect World, where they can settle and build their Imperfect Cities. These movements can represent the constant escape caused by the imposed projects in the urban space; plans that mostly have an unattainable idealism and disregard the organic existence living within there.

For this thesis, Machado’s work is an essential element for understanding the relationships that take place in cities through projects created by urban planners. Through the abstractions presented in History of the Future, Machado criticizes the imposition created by the idealism of planners and the process how cities are designed. In the end, the foundation world, which serves as support for the construction of the Pillars for the New World, will always be considered imperfect and in need of improvements. However, it will never be turned into something perfect, or even more-than-perfect.

It is for this reason that Machado chose his work’s title. The conception of history is obviously focused on the past, to report events in a given period of time. The future, in turn, is something that will come. Phrasing the two terms together, however, brings the idea of narrating the past of something that is about to happen, as if you were already considering a future that, in fact, has already been defined in the past. Vieira’s History of the Future brings light to this conception:

To satisfy, therefore, the greatest eagerness of this appetite [for predicting the future] and to run the curtain to the biggest and most hidden secrets of this mystery, today we place in the World theatre our History, therefore deemed as being of the Future. We do not write with Berossus the antiquities of the Assyrians; or even with Xenophon the history of the Persians; or even with Herodotus of the Egyptians; nor with Joseph of the Hebrews; nor with Curcio of the Macedonians; nor with Thucydides of the Greeks; nor with Livio of the Romans; nor with our Portuguese writers; but we will write without the author what none of them wrote or could write. They wrote stories of the past to the future; we will write stories of the future to those who are present. Impossible painting to portray copies before the original, but this is what the brush of our History will do.52

Thus, it is a way to intertwine all historical times in a given proposition and ensure a better understanding of the changes already planned. It is no wonder that Machado believes his exploration is more an atopia than anything else. In his History of the Future, no boundaries or borders are established, as they are physical or temporal. His concern lies in how cities are restructured, describing a constant change in which the Nomad is forced to act in order to ensure the continuity of the entire cycle.


the infrastructure blocking the organic

TeresaMargolles_KeysTeresa Margolles. “Llaves (Keys),” (2012)


The discussion about borders also is related to what the urban commodities used for control are. It is not only the naming of the streets that creates a gap between social life and urban infrastructures, but also the socio-political differences between nations. The work Keys (Llaves), by Teresa Margolles offers a poetic way of bringing up issues about the forced separation caused by the concepts of nation and sovereignty. Margolles interviewed residents of the cities of El Paso, USA, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and asked them to give their impressions of each side of the border. To Margolles, the two cities should be considered as one, even though its urban field extends across the two countries. What prevents them from being together, however, are the national divisions and their economic realities.

With a background as a forensic Mexican policewoman, Margolles studied and analyzed several cases of violence that took place in Ciudad Juárez, considered one of the most violent cities in the world because of the wars waged against drugs.53 Her works are her way of exploring and demonstrating the urban violence in this city in order to draw attention to cases that are often overlooked because happened on the Latin side.

The boundaries, in this case, ultimately separate the way this problem of violence is dealt with and often instigates the perception of how it is in the other side. The keys made by a Mexican artisan demonstrate how this separation functions in the subjectivity of residents of both cities, for whom one can be considered to be a “state of crime” and the other “freedom.”

The boundaries challenged here by Machado are seen as a major impediment to understanding the real extent of the problem of the city. Although Margolles still tries to disclose the facts through her works, the border that cuts the city is far from being removed. In cases like this, where the urban space of a city transpose a national sovereignty, who is responsible for the local problems? The question of nomenclature goes here from everyday life to questioning the macrostructure itself. An unnamed territory does not belong to anyone. The spatial politics then are not connected to daily life in the urban infrastructure, but fall on how different governments see each other.

Spatial politics are debated nowadays in different ways. One of them is to understand the national sovereignty through a global economic system. Understanding how money flows in a globalized world serves to make questions about the real owner of a territory more explicit. Saskia Sassen, for example, questions the global financial market to understand how a country’s sovereignty can be understood in a globalized world. To do so, she argues for a “new geography of power,” which she believes to have three components:

One of these components concerns the actual territories where much of globalization materializes in specific institutions and processes. And the question here is, then, what kind of territoriality is this? The second component of the new geography of power concerns the ascendance of a new legal regime to govern cross-border economic transactions. One can see here at work a rather peculiar passion for various kinds of ‘legality’ driving the globalization of the corporate economy. There has been a massive amount of legal innovation around the growth of globalization. The third component of the new geography of power is the fact that a growing number of economic activities are taking place in electronic space.54

The “new geography of power” helps explain the influence of other nations in local affairs. In view of the accumulation of capital through financial market, it is easy to understand how borders are not a real problem and how sovereignty is more linked to accumulation of capital than to social relationships. For Sassen, the old concept of sovereignty rooted in identity no longer can be applied in contemporary dynamics of capital. One example that she gives is the case of the purchase of 3 million hectares in Congo and Zambia by China for the production of biodiesel. Although the plantation does not correspond with the national biome of the two African countries, the focus on accumulation of capital allows such a purchase without considering the environmental impact that this may produce.55 Even though there is a defined space and an established nation (and even a name for a country), there is no assurance over who has the real sovereignty of those regions.

It is through the perspective of financial institutions that Doreen Massey also questions the space of cities and territories. Following Mouffe’s and Deutsche’s understanding of conflicts, Massey uses London as an example of a globalized city driven by the flow of capital in the financial market. But for her, the imagery of London is stuck in a perception of what the city should be: a global center linked to the financial market. Any imagination beyond that is pruned by the internal flow of the city itself. As Massey says, “sometimes you have to blow apart the imagination of a space or place to find within it its potential, to reveal the ‘disparition’ ‘in what presents itself as a perceptual totality’.”56

If the financial market can live in a world where borders no longer exist, why do immigrants still have problems entering certain countries? This discussion, for Massey, creates what appears to be a paradox between the right and left. While the right defends the free flow of capital between countries, it is against equal rights for immigrants. The left, meanwhile, is against the freedom of capital but vehemently defends the flexibilization of immigration laws. According to Massey,

When those on the right of the political spectrum argue, say, for the free movement of capital and against the free movement of labour it does not necessarily entail a contradiction. It only lays itself open to that charge (and thus open to that kind of political challenge) when each argument is legitimated by an appeal to a geographical imagination hailed as a universal, and when (as in this case) the two legitimating imaginations contradict each other. The ‘inevitability’ of a modern world without borders versus the ‘naturalness’ of a world in which (some) local people have a right to defend, with borders, their own local place. It is perfectly coherent to argue both for a significant relaxation of European rules on immigration (greater openness) and for the right of developing countries to put up protective barriers around, say, a vital sector of production or a nascent industry (greater closure).57

Although the discussion about the global financial market seems far removed from Margolles’ keys, it raises big questions about sovereignty and when a boundary can be ignored or not. While there is a consensus that, in a globalized world, the borders are disappearing, it is important to stress the question: for whom? And it is the impression of the residents of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso that the choice is very explicit.


the organic hacking the infrastructure

ClaudioBueno_frente_postalClaudio Bueno. “Les Chant des Sirènes (from “Invisible Monuments” series)” (2011)


There is no doubt that technologies changed the way we interact in cities. The information system that runs in the virtual environment can even be considered to be the “killer” of how we understand the urban space.59 Today, there are new ways to relate and understand how we can interfere in the urban environment without necessarily adding something physically to the space. During a residence in Québec, Canada, Claudio Bueno explored the monumentality using mobile devices as a way to add another layer of information to what is already regarded as established. In the Old Port of the city, Bueno realized that the story told through sculptures and monuments in the region about the two World Wars had a male and simplistic perspective. Besides that, in interviewing the local population he discovered that they had not even been asked to participate on how this history would be told. In other words, in this region, the monument reflects a history that does not represent how residents wants to portrait themselves or historical facts. History, therefore, is imposed by the macrostructure in a public space with great frequency of tourists in order to specify how visitors should look at and relate to that location.

The port area is a military zone which is restricted on certain days to pedestrian visitors and can only be accessed by ships and cruises that dock at the port. In order for cruise tourists to visit the area, they have to go through immigration and have their passports checked even for a quick stop of 20 or 30 minutes. Meanwhile, locals are forbidden from accessing the place. This process drew Bueno’s attention, and he saw the highly controlled site as a target for hacking this imposition. His Invisible Monuments are applications for mobile devices that access a sound work when it comes to specific coordinates via GPS. Bueno is concerned with the triangulation between the body, space, and an information layer that may exist there. Only there, at the Saint-Laurent River, one can hear the mermaids singing and luring men to the seabed. Le Chant des Sirènes is a way of telling the story of the Wars through the perspective of the women who worked in the communication departments inside the ships and of questioning the monumentality that is imposed on communities.

The question of monumentality is essential here to understanding how the work of Bueno falls into a perspective of a city without an urban commodity such is the nomenclature of the streets. Theoretically, the monuments represent the connection between space and its history. Rosalind Krauss, however, believes that monumentality no longer exists, since the monuments have now entered a “space of what could be called its negative condition – a kind of sitelessness, or homelessness, an absolute loss of place.”60 Bueno’s work, in contradiction to Krauss, works with all three at the same time: site, home, and place. Although using the virtual, Bueno brings up discussions of how brutal a monument is to the history of a place and how to hack this understanding. It is no wonder that Bueno uses mobile technologies to do so, as they can add new layers of information in a given space. While successfully erecting a statue requires the government permission and all of the associated bureaucratic processes, creating a work on the Internet only requires a developer and the work itself. Therefore, anyone visiting the site can hear the song of the Sirens without even feeling invaded by a historical imposition.

This participation enabled by the virtual also opens up another field of perception of what a city could be. The open source communities, for example, believe that institutions restrict creation and innovation by having a rigid hierarchy. For them, collaboration is much more useful than closing oneself off to the help of others.61 What would this concept look like when applied to the city? The Spanish journalist and activist Bernardo Gutiérrez applied the four laws of freedom characteristics of open source software communities to understand how these open cities would be. To do so, he exchanged the word “software” for “city”:

Freedom 0. Freedom to run the city for whatever our purpose is

Freedom 1. Freedom to study the functioning of a city and adapt it to our needs – access to code source is essential for this condition.

Freedom 2. The freedom to redistribute copies and help your neighbor.

Freedom 3. The freedom to improve the city and then publish it for the good of all community.62

Gutiérrez’ goal in doing so was to advocate for a more reactive city. The urban structure, based on these laws, would respond to what its residents demand rather than being something given by the macrostructure. This exercise is only to demonstrate how the ideology and philosophy of open source communities could be applied to the urban space.

The idea of an open city, however, is not a novelty. Even Jane Jacobs has argued for this.63 The difference is that, instead of creating a nostalgia of old cities, it considers the technologies to be allies in the process. In response to its collapse provoked by the financial market, the government of Iceland recently decided to create a new Constitution while considering the participation of its residents. Instead of selecting a small group of politicians to decide the future of the nation, they applied the same principles of the open source communities to this new approach of governance.64

The openness of a city helps the plurality and multiplicity argued by Mouffe and Deutsche necessary to the discussions of public space. And another important aspect of the virtuality of these monuments is the possibility for new pieces in the same locality. If, with the physical, is almost impossible to build two monuments in the same location, in the virtual environment is possible to create not only two, but infinite works. Anyone can create an accessible piece via GPS technology for the same locality without having them necessary conflicting with each other. “This sound monument does not stand as a historical imposition, but as a creation and a direct negotiation with the city,” explains Bueno.65 Virtuality, then, emerges as a means of circumventing the point of view of the macrostructure in a way that citizens’ participation can emerge and organically happen. In the same way that Bueno created his work, anyone can do the same, paving the way for a real spatial interference by locals. It was only through geolocation that Bueno was able to tell the history through a bias that is different from the current one without plundering the ancient monument, confronting the police, or even imposing his historical perspective.


The works and interventions cited here show different perspectives of what might happen if there were no control mechanism to mediate social relations in the urban infrastructure. The issue of naming the streets is just one among many other urban commodities that directly interfere in our daily lives. The main argument for this specific choice and not another is the interest in understanding specific mechanisms that promote gentrification. Its influence in the space is such that even something as trivial as the classification of a particular avenue or even the name of a neighborhood can influence and help with the eviction of whole communities from their original neighborhoods.

Today, the macrostructure needs the cities to be highly controlled so that it can predict profits and income without major disturbances. Because of that, there are no real concerns if there are people living under this flow of capital. Organic life, in most cases, is thought of secondarily, without being the bigger – when it should be the only? – concern of the macrostructure. It is because of this fierce imposition over many years that protestors have recently taken to the streets around the world, with the experience in Turkey to defend Gezi Park being perhaps the most emblematic for this thesis. The imposition of the real estate market allied with the government was such that even one of the remaining parks in the city was the target of large real estate enterprises.66

This thesis is concerned with pointing out the consequences of this problem of the impositions made by the macrostructure. Returning to the idea of being an “ethologist,” it was not the intent of this study to discuss gentrification or all mechanisms of control imposed by the macrostructure. Rather, it has sought to understand how the absence of an urban commodity could interfere in the social relationships we have with the urban infrastructure. Without having a linear demarcation inside the cities – which Sennett believed to be characteristic of a “new anarchism”67 –, there would be a better understanding of the Other, which would make the urban space much more creative and plural. As Lewis Coser put it so well: “Conflict (…) prevents the ossification of the social system by exerting pressure for innovation and creativity.”68 The urban space would not necessarily be divided by class, race, ethnicity, or other identity groups, but it would be a constant conflict self-organizing and managing their own spaces. Sennett advocates for social conflicts as a way to generate neighborhoods open to changes. This idea is not far from the plurality and the antagonisms suggested by Mouffe for establishing a “radical democracy.”69 In the end, through “new anarchists” theories, a healthy environment for democracy can be created; a space in which a plurality of groups is respected in practice and there is no separation between those who are poor and those who are rich.

Finally, the artistic works discussed here represent some of the possibilities for the different perceptions of what constitutes an urban space. Although they do not discuss the lack of an urban commodity per se, they point to a different understanding of what this city would be. They are platforms for encouraging discussion and raising public awareness of the issues presented here.


2013 protests in Turkey,” Wikipedia. Accessible at <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_protests_in_Turkey>. (Accessed on January 25, 2014).

80% das leis são homenagens ou nomes de rua,” O Estado de S. Paulo (July 11, 2012). Accessible at <http://www.estadao.com.br/noticias/impresso,80-das-leis-sao-homenagens-ou-nomes-de-rua–,898522,0.htm>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

Arantes, Priscila. “Cláudio Bueno,” Binômios #3 (August 2013): 5. Accessible at <http://3c.art.br/binomios-3/>. (Accessed on January 24, 2014).

Benkler, Yochai and Nissenbaum, Helen. “Commons-Based Peer Production and Virtue,” The Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol 14, no. 4 (2006).

Calvino, Italo. “City & Memory 3,” Invisible Cities. Harvest Books. 1974.

Coser, Lewis A.. “Social Conflict and the Theory of Social Change,” The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Sep., 1957).

Debord, Guy. “Theory of the Dérive,” Internationale Situationiste #2 (December 1958). Accessible at <http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/theory.html>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

Deutsche, Rosalyn. “Art and Public Space: Questions of Democracy,” Social Text, no. 33 (1992): 34-53.

Ducombe, Stephen. “Utopia Is No Place: The Art and Politics of Impossible Futures,” Walker Art Center, Symposium (July 29, 2010). Accessible at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8BhXKGOeeY>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

Evans, Lauren. “FYI: Ridgewood Is Now East Williamsburg, Also Bushwick,” gothamist (May 10, 2013). Accessible at <http://gothamist.com/2013/05/10/east_williamsburg_borders_now_exten.php>. (Accessed on March 25, 2014)

. “Who’s Trying To Erase East Williamsburg’s ‘Avenue Of Puerto Rico?’,” gothamist (February 26, 2013). Accessible at <http://gothamist.com/2013/02/26/whos_trying_to_kill_avenue_of_puert.php>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

Fricker, Peter. “Directionally Challenged: Effort to Name Ghana’s Streets Points the Way to Economic Progress,” Frontlines Online Edition (July/August 2012). Available at <http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/frontlines/economic-growth/directionally-challenged-effort-name-ghana%E2%80%99s-streets>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

Goffey, Andrew. “Introduction: On the Witch’s Broomstick,” Capitalist Sorcery. Palgrave MacMillan (2011).

Gossman, Christina. “Finding Relief In The World’s Most Congested City: A Sunday Afternoon On São Paulo’s Minhocão,” The Atlantic (May 18, 2012). Accessible at <http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/05/finding-relief-worlds-most-congested-city-sunday-afternoon-minhocao/2040/>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

Gutiérrez, Bernardo. “Soñé que era un DJ de calles (ciudades copyleft),” #CódigoAbierto_CC (April 14, 2012). Accessible at <http://codigo-abierto.cc/2012/04/14/sone-que-era-un-dj-de-calles-ciudades-copyleft/>. (Accessed on January 25, 2014).

Harvey, David. Rebel Cities – From the Right to the City to Urban Revolution. Verso (2012).

Hiskey, Davien. “Most Streets in Japan Don’t Have Names.” Today I Foundout (April 9, 2012). Accessible at <http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2012/04/most-japanese-streets-dont-have-names/>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

Hock, Jennifer. “Jane Jacobs and the West Village: The Neighborhood Against Urban Renewal,” Journal of the Society Architectural Historians, Vol 66, no. 1 (March 2007): 16-19.

Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Vintage Books Edition (1992).

Krauss, Rosalind. “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” October, Vol. 8 (Spring, 1979).

Lefebvre, Henri. “The Right to the City,” Writings on Cities. Blackwell Publishers (1996).

Lewandowski, Joseph D.. “Street Culture – The Dialetic of Urbanism in Walter Benjamin’s Passagen-werk,Philosophy & Social Criticism. Vol. 31, no. 3 (2005): 293-308.

Machado, Milton. History of the Future. Cosac Naify (2013).

Mauro,” NYC Streets. Accessible at <http://www.oldstreets.com/honor.asp?title=Mauro>. (Accessed on March 23, 2014).

Massey, Doreen. For Space. SAGE Publications (2005).

Mitchell, William J.. e-topia. The MIT Press (2000).

Morris, Harvey. “Crowdsourcing Iceland’s Constitution,” The New York Times Online (October 24, 2012). Accessible at <http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/crowdsourcing-icelands-constitution/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0>. (Accessed on January 25, 2014).

Mouffe, Chantal. The Return of the Political. Verso (2006).

Movimento BaixoCentro. “Workshop SP Urbanismo,” baixocentro.org (November 12, 2013). Accessible at <http://baixocentro.org/2013/11/12/workshop-sp-urbanismo/>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

Mueller, Roswitha. Valie Export – Fragments of the Imagination. Indiana University Press (1994).

Olsen, Lise. “Ciudad Juarez passes 2,000 homicides in ’09, setting record,” Chron Online (October 21, 2009). Accessible at <http://www.chron.com/news/nation-world/article/Ciudad-Juarez-passes-2-000-homicides-in-09-1593554.php>. (Accessed on January 26, 2014).

Padre Antonio Vieira,” Wikipedia. Accessible at <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant%C3%B3nio_Vieira>. (Accessed on January 25, 2014).

Pignarre, Philippe and Stengers, Isabelle. Capitalist Sorcery, Palgrave MacMillan (2011).

Rennó, Raquel. “A Cidade das Marcas – Marcas na Cidade,” XXVI Congresso Anual em Ciência da Comunicação (Belo Horizonte/MG, September 2 – 6, 2003). Available at <https://www.academia.edu/5780062/Cidade_das_marcas_marcas_na_cidade>. (Accessed on January 20, 2014).

Rio de Janeiro’s favelas charted on city maps after decades of ‘invisibility’,” DailyMail Online (January 24, 2013). Accessible at <www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2267553/Rio-Janeiros-favelas-charted-decades-invisibility.html>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

Rivera, Tania. “The Architecture of Thought,” History of the Future. Cosac Naify (2013): 93-101.

Robert Moses,” Wikipedia. Accessible at <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Moses>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

Sadler, Simon. “The Naked City – Realities of Design and Space Laid Bare,” The Situationist City. The MIT Press (1998): 15-66.

Sassen, Saskia. “Territory and Territoriality in the Global Economy,” International Sociology, Vol. 15 No. 2 (June 2000): 372-393.

. “The Global Street: Making the Political,” Subversive Forum – The Future of Europe, (May 14, 2012). Video. Accessible at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wECY6eUkOkY>. (Accessed on January 24, 2014)

Sennett, Richard. The Uses of Disorder – Personal Identity and City Life. W. W. Norton (1970).

Vieira, Padre Antonio. “História do Futuro – Vol I,” Obras Escolhidas. Livraria Sá da Costa. Lisboa (1953): 13. Online edition accessible at <http://www.fcsh.unl.pt/docentes/rmonteiro/pdf/Futuro_I.pdf>. (Accessed on January 24, 2014).

Wollen, Peter. “Situationists and Architecture,” New Left Review 8 (Mar/Apr 2001).



1Peter Fricker. “Directionally Challenged: Effort to Name Ghana’s Streets Points the Way to Economic Progress,” Frontlines Online Edition (July/August 2012). Available at <http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/frontlines/economic-growth/directionally-challenged-effort-name-ghana%E2%80%99s-streets>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

2Davien Hiskey. “Most Streets in Japan Don’t Have Names.” Today I Foundout (April 9, 2012). Available at <http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2012/04/most-japanese-streets-dont-have-names/>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

3“Rio de Janeiro’s favelas charted on city maps after decades of ‘invisibility’,” DailyMail Online (January 24, 2013). Accessible at <www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2267553/Rio-Janeiros-favelas-charted-decades-invisibility.html>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

4Lauren Evans. “FYI: Ridgewood Is Now East Williamsburg, Also Bushwick,” gothamist (May 10, 2013). Available at <http://gothamist.com/2013/05/10/east_williamsburg_borders_now_exten.php>. (Accessed on March 25, 2014).

5Raquel Rennó. “A Cidade das Marcas – Marcas na Cidade,” XXVI Congresso Anual em Ciência da Comunicação (Belo Horizonte/MG, September 2 – 6, 2003). Available at <https://www.academia.edu/5780062/Cidade_das_marcas_marcas_na_cidade>. (Accessed on January 20, 2014).

6Andrew Goffey. “Introduction: On the Witch’s Broomstick,” Capitalist Sorcery. Palgrave MacMillan (2011): XVII.

7Ibid: XIII.

8Philippe Pignarre and Isabelle Stengers. Capitalist Sorcery, Palgrave MacMillan (2011): 25.

9Ibid: 17.

10Stephen Ducombe. “Utopia Is No Place: The Art and Politics of Impossible Futures,” Walker Art Center, Symposium (July 29, 2010). Accessible at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8BhXKGOeeY>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

11Italo Calvino. “City & Memory 3,” Invisible Cities. Harvest Books. (1974): 10-11.

12In Roswitha Mueller’s book about VALIE EXPORT’s works, “Valie Export – Fragments of Imagination,” she cites Zobeide to describe how EXPORT believes that a city is doubly gendered in a way to explain EXPORT’s work Syntagma: “For Export, the city is both feminine and masculine (traditionally speaking): feminine in its housing, sheltering, and protecting life, masculine in its traffic, commerce, and communication. There is, however, a more powerful reason for considering the city as doubly gendered. One of the stories in Italo Calvino’s book Le città invisibili relates how the city of Zobeide was founded exactly on that site where several men, pursuing the same dream, encountered each other. The site corresponded to the place where they lost the object of their desire, a woman, out of sight. This story suggests that ‘the city constitutes itself through the attempt to lend duration to the desire expressed in their dream… as the site of absence of the woman in whose place a league of men gather together, bound to each other through the lack of the feminine.’” (p. 186-187).

13Italo Calvino. “City & Memory 3,” Invisible Cities. Harvest Books. (1974): 10-11.

14A list can be viewed at the website <http://www.oldstreets.com/honor.asp?title=Mauro>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

15To learn more about the Elevado Costa e Silva, one worthy read is the article by Christina Gossman, “Finding Relief In The World’s Most Congested City: A Sunday Afternoon On São Paulo’s Minhocão,” published by The Atlantic, on May 18, 2012. Accessible at <http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/05/finding-relief-worlds-most-congested-city-sunday-afternoon-minhocao/2040/>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

16Lauren Evans. “Who’s Trying To Erase East Williamsburg’s ‘Avenue Of Puerto Rico?’,” gothamist (February 26, 2013). Accessible at <http://gothamist.com/2013/02/26/whos_trying_to_kill_avenue_of_puert.php>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

17The research was made by the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo and published in the article in Portuguese “80% das leis são homenagens ou nomes de rua,” accessible at <http://www.estadao.com.br/noticias/impresso,80-das-leis-sao-homenagens-ou-nomes-de-rua–,898522,0.htm>. (Accessed on November 18, 2013).

18Robert Moses was a key figure for New York city urban planning during the 1960s. The literature about him and Jane Jacobs’ fight against his plans is extensive. To know more about the character and his plans see his Wikipedia article <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Moses>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

19Jan Gehl is a Danish architect well known for his projects of large plazas and reflecting pools. His architecture company is involved in a controversial project in São Paulo, Brazil, to re-signify a historical and degraded neighborhood in the city. His solution was to build a reflecting pool as a way to avoid the homeless people living there. To know more, it is worth reading the statement wrote by a social movement present in the meetings to discuss the project (in Portuguese). Movimento BaixoCentro. “Workshop SP Urbanismo,” baixocentro.org (November 12, 2013). Accessible at <http://baixocentro.org/2013/11/12/workshop-sp-urbanismo/>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

20Jane Jacobs. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Vintage Books Edition (1992): 6.

21Again, the case of Gehl and the historical neighborhood in São Paulo comes to mind. The participation of communities and social movements in the meetings was only virtual. The feedback and input provided by them was not incorporated into the final project. In this sense, the participation of the grassroots movements was strictly formal, and not a real conversation. It was only to guarantee what is required by law.

22Richard Sennett. The Uses of Disorder – Personal Identity and City Life. W. W. Norton (1970): 7.


24Ibid: 142.

25Joseph D. Lewandowski. “Street Culture – The Dialetic of Urbanism in Walter Benjamin’s Passagen-werk,Philosophy & Social Criticism. Vol. 31, no. 3 (2005): 293-308.

26David Harvey. Rebel Cities – From the Right to the City to Urban Revolution. Verso (2012): XIII.

27Chantal Mouffe. The Return of the Political. Verso (2006).

28Rosalyn Deutsche. “Art and Public Space: Questions of Democracy,” Social Text, no. 33 (1992): 34-53.

29Henri Lefebvre. “The Right to the City,” Writings on Cities. Blackwell Publishers (1996): 148.


31Richard Sennett. The Uses of Disorder – Personal Identity and City Life. W. W. Norton (1970): 91-95.

32Again, Jane Jacobs’ fight to avoid the urban renewal of West Village is a good example. See: Jennifer Hock. “Jane Jacobs and the West Village: The Neighborhood Against Urban Renewal,” Journal of the Society Architectural Historians, Vol 66, no. 1 (March 2007): 16-19.

33Roswitha Mueller. Valie Export – Fragments of the Imagination. Indiana University Press (1994): XX.

34Simon Sadler. “The Naked City – Realities of Design and Space Laid Bare,” The Situationist City. The MIT Press (1998): 15-66.

35Ibid: 17.

36Guy Debord. “Theory of the Dérive,” Internationale Situationiste #2 (December 1958). Accessible at <http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/theory.html>. (Accessed on March 26, 2014).

37Ibid: 16.

38Peter Wollen. “Situationists and Architecture,” New Left Review 8 (Mar/Apr 2001): 129.


40Roswitha Mueller. Valie Export – Fragments of the Imagination. Indiana University Press (1994): 186.

41Simon Sadler. “The Naked City – Realities of Design and Space Laid Bare,” The Situationist City. The MIT Press (1998): 15-16.


43Roswitha Mueller. Valie Export – Fragments of the Imagination. Indiana University Press (1994): XX.

44This section draws on an interview held with the artist in January 2014.

45Milton Machado. History of the Future. Cosac Naify (2013): 110.

46Ibid: 111.

47Milton Machado. History of the Future. Cosac Naify (2013): 7.

48Milton Machado. History of the Future. Cosac Naify (2013): 50.

49The Jesuit, although participating in the conquer and catechesis during the colonial Brazil, was known for his struggle in defense of indigenous peoples, arguing that them could not be enslaved as the church and Portugal planned. For Vieira, it was necessary to create an independent institution to manage and understand the vastness of cultures that were already in the territory. This fight earned him processes and almost condemnation by heresy by the Church. However, his eloquence and rhetoric were very well recognized in Brazil and Portugal, and Vieira continued his work, focusing mainly in studies about the Inquisition. To read more about Vieira, see the Wikipedia article: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant%C3%B3nio_Vieira>. (Accessed on January 25, 2014).

50This passage and the other ones that follow were translated by the author from Portuguese: Padre Antonio Vieira. “História do Futuro – Vol I,” Obras Escolhidas. Livraria Sá da Costa. Lisboa (1953): 13. Online edition accessible at <http://www.fcsh.unl.pt/docentes/rmonteiro/pdf/Futuro_I.pdf>. (Accessed on January 24, 2014).

51Tania Rivera. “The Architecture of Thought,” History of the Future. Cosac Naify (2013): 99.

52Some names may be still in Portuguese. Padre Antonio Vieira. “História do Futuro – Vol I,” Obras Escolhidas. Livraria Sá da Costa. Lisboa (1953): 4.

53Lise Olsen. “Ciudad Juarez passes 2,000 homicides in ’09, setting record,” Chron Online (October 21, 2009). Accessible at <http://www.chron.com/news/nation-world/article/Ciudad-Juarez-passes-2-000-homicides-in-09-1593554.php>. (Accessed on January 26, 2014)

54Saskia Sassen. “Territory and Territoriality in the Global Economy,” International Sociology, Vol. 15 No. 2 (June 2000): 372-393.

55Saskia Sassen. “The Global Street: Making the Political,” Subversive Forum – The Future of Europe, (May 14, 2012). Video. Accessible at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wECY6eUkOkY>. (Accessed on January 24, 2014).

56Doreen Massey. For Space. SAGE Publications (2005): 158.

57Ibid: 165.

58This section draws on an interview held with the artist in January 2014.

59William J. Mitchell. e-topia. The MIT Press (2000).

60Rosalind Krauss. “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” October, Vol. 8 (Spring, 1979): 34.

61To understand better the open source communities, see: Yochai Benkler and Helen Nissenbaum. “Commons-Based Peer Production and Virtue,” The Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol 14, no. 4 (2006).

62The original in Spanish was translated to English by the author. Bernardo Gutiérrez. “Soñé que era un DJ de calles (ciudades copyleft),” #CódigoAbierto_CC (April 14, 2012). Accessible at <http://codigo-abierto.cc/2012/04/14/sone-que-era-un-dj-de-calles-ciudades-copyleft/> (accessed on January 25, 2014).

63Jane Jacobs. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Vintage Books Edition. 1992.

64Harvey Morris. “Crowdsourcing Iceland’s Constitution,” The New York Times Online (October 24, 2012). Accessible at <http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/crowdsourcing-icelands-constitution/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0>. (Accessed on January 25, 2014).

65Priscila Arantes. “Cláudio Bueno,” Binômios #3 (August 2013): 5. Accessible at <http://3c.art.br/binomios-3/>. (Accessed on January 24, 2014).

66To understand more about the protests at Gezi Park, visit the Wikipedia article “2013 protests in Turkey.” Accessible at <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_protests_in_Turkey>. (Accessed on January 25, 2014).

67Richard Sennett. The Uses of Disorder – Personal Identity and City Life. W. W. Norton (1970): 105-198.

68Lewis A. Coser. “Social Conflict and the Theory of Social Change,” The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Sep., 1957): 197.

69Chantal Mouffe. The Return of the Political. Verso (2006).

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Desde quando eu voltei do mestrado, tentei achar alguma publicação para escrever minhas recentes pesquisas. Emails mandados, conversas feitas, e nada de achar um local em que desse para se aprofundar em um assunto do jeito que eu acredito ser necessário. Não é que faltam publicações no país (faltam, mas esse não é o maior problema, considerando o número crescente de iniciativas online), mas faltam diferentes perfis, com apostas em aprofundar temas sem necessariamente ser de forma jornalística ou acadêmica. Se você quer ir além de uma matéria mas não entrar em meandros acadêmicos, para onde você vai? Em qual publicação você tem a liberdade de articular sua própria voz com um tema que lhe – e não dx editorx ou da publicação – é interessante e de vanguarda?

Pensando nessa independência e incentivo às pesquisas, criei os Livretos. São publicações de baixo custo em formato A4 dobrado que une texto com ilustrações de artistas convidados. Ao todo, são 48 páginas que discutem e ilustram temas de vanguarda que estão em voga hoje em nosso cotidiano. Os Livretos são como plataformas curatoriais, em que a discussão teórica se casa com a crítica cultural.

Para este primeiro experimento com financiamento coletivo para publicações, escolhi três temas que me são caros e, acredito, são interessantes para o que tem acontecido aqui no Brasil: Afrofuturismo, Gentrificação Invisível e Arte em Espaço Público (para saber mais sobre cada tema, veja as explicações na página do Catarse).

Outra coisa interessante é que dependendo de qual recompensa você escolher, você liberta alguns Livretos para que outras pessoas tenham acesso à pesquisa de forma gratuita. Os Livretos Livres, então, será distribuídos em eventos ou até mesmo na rua. É uma forma de divulgar ainda mais o trabalho e criar um público cativo das publicações.

Os PDFs dos Livretos serão publicados aqui neste site, ali onde está escrito “Livretos” no menu acima.

Vamos colaborar?!

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HS: It means that you decide, OK, there is this subset of documents and I’m going to partner up with a specific organization and let’s work on that topic. And that becomes a kind of aesthetic decision.

LP: No, that’s just a strategy of publication. It wasn’t about aesthetics.

HS: I disagree. It really is a formal decision, about how to format information, about its form. And that’s important on the level of safety, of course, but also in terms of protecting your autonomy and the autonomy of the work. It is about aesthetic autonomy, too. To go back to our first meeting, it was so interesting because we began a series of conversations about Turkish jet strikes in Turkey facilitated by American drone reconnaissance, and then two years later you published the corresponding NSA documents about those strikes with Der Spiegel, which showed exactly the station that relayed the information to the Turkish air force to send jets to perform the airstrikes. It’s like you and Snowden suddenly provided something I thought would be hidden forever: the perspective, the aerial perspective.

Na íntegra, aqui: https://artforum.com/inprint/issue=201505&id=51563

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Eu fui convidado pelo artista, curador e diretor artístico do Red Bull Station, Fernando Velázquez, para dar uma palestra sobre a minha experiência com coletivos usando como estudo de caso o BaixoCentro. Junto a mim, estavam Kiko Dinucci, músico do Metá Metá e tantos outros projetos; e Rodrigo Araújo, do coletivo Bijari.

A palestra, em breve, estará está em vídeo no site.

Abaixo, segue a minha fala que estruturei em um artigo.

Por Thiago Carrapatoso

Quando recebi o convite para fazer parte desta mesa, sugeri convidar outros colaboradores do BaixoCentro para fazer parte da conversa, de forma que não ficasse apenas um representante do movimento dando sua opinião, mas sim que se abrisse para que outros pudessem dar suas outras perspectivas sobre a criação e funcionamento do coletivo. Me disseram, porém, que era um convite pessoal, em que, claro, considerava que eu faço/fazia parte do BaixoCentro, mas também se interessava pelas outras iniciativas e estudos que fiz sobre a questão da colaboração em meios digitais contemporâneos. Então, em vez de falar sobre o BaixoCentro propriamente, vou fazer uma breve introdução e usá-lo como estudo de caso para partir para outros questionamentos que, acredito, são interessantes para esta mesa.

O BaixoCentro é um movimento que começou sua articulação em 2011 como resposta às políticas públicas repressoras vigentes (o então prefeito era o Gilberto Kassab) e à especulação imobiliária latente na região central de São Paulo, tendo o projeto NovaLuz como representante principal, o qual estabelecia a demolição de 33% da região próxima à Sta. Ifigênia. Neste processo, se percebeu a falta da participação da sociedade civil sobre as questões urbanas e tão próximas de qualquer cidadão. Como dizíamos na época, as ruas estavam em disputa. E a sociedade não estava nem sendo considerada na discussão. Para engajar as pessoas nestas questões, então, decidimos organizar um festival de rua, sem curadoria e aberto para qualquer um com uma proposta de atividade, sem pedir permissão para a administração pública e sem receber patrocínio de iniciativa privada. Um festival feito por pessoas e para pessoas. Com tudo isso, arrecadamos quase R$ 90 mil por meio de financiamento coletivo, cuidamos de mais de 700 atividades nesses quatro anos, e incentivamos com que outros coletivos e pessoas usassem nossos equipamentos para ocupar as ruas com programação cultural gratuita. Como não tínhamos a Polícia Militar ao nosso lado (ainda bem!), não temos a fictícia contagem de público. Mas, hoje, nossas redes sociais contam com mais de 15 mil e 500 curtidas na nossa página no Facebook, quase 8 mil e 500 pessoas que fazem parte do nosso grupo de discussão também nesta rede social, e um pouco mais de 400 que recebem nossas mensagens em nosso grupo de e-mail. Escrevemos artigos para revistas acadêmicas como a revista V!RUS, da USP, e para publicações de galerias de arte, como a publicada pelo Ateliê 397; participamos de exposições internacionais sobre ativismo, como o Global Activism, da ZKM Media Museum, na Alemanha; e conseguimos com que várias pessoas não gostassem da gente (ou nos parodiassem), como o histórico Cordão da Mentira, que passou a adotar o slogan “As ruas são para lutar” em contraposição ao nosso “As ruas são para dançar”; o coletivo Zagaia, que publicou diversos textos (ou como eles chamam, artigos) sobre quão vazio era o movimento; e de diversos motoristas que tiveram seus carros sujos de tinta por causa da nossa primeira intervenção em um cruzamento na Avenida São João, em que jogamos cerca de 400 litros de tintas de diferentes cores no meio da rua para que os carros pintassem o asfalto cinza dessa enorme metrópole que é São Paulo.

Quando estávamos nos estruturando para criar o grupo, e muito por estarmos imersos na Casa de Cultura Digital, pensamos em aplicar a metodologia das comunidades de software livre dentro de um movimento que prega o direito à cidade. A ideia era que fosse um movimento horizontal, auto-gestionado, sem hierarquias e totalmente independente. Sem tarefas definidas, um dia se podia estar batalhando na comunicação e articulação em nossas redes para virar nossos financiamentos coletivos, e no outro estar no meio da rua batendo nas janelas das casas que beiram o Minhocão para pedir uma tomada amiga. Cada um pega a tarefa que quer e que mais se identifica, sem precisar se pensar em ter uma educação formal ou experiência com determinada tarefa. Desta forma, também, não se fincaria o movimento a determinadas pessoas e possibilitaria com que ele fosse mais flexível, com cada um ocupando as lacunas que faltavam de forma orgânica.

Isso tudo na teoria.

E foi na teoria que Yochai Benkler junto com Helen Nissenbaum fizeram uma análise, publicada no The Journal of Political Philosophy em 2006, sobre as comunidades de software livre e como elas trabalham a virtuosidade do cidadão. Quando se se dedica a um bem comum (que pode ser tanto um software de computador quanto a ocupação dos espaços públicos de uma cidade), de acordo com eles, é que se desenvolve uma moral e ética colaborativa que, depois, é revertida para toda a sociedade. Ou seja, os dias que você passa em frente ao seu computador isolado e conversando e trocando códigos com uma comunidade online serão muito bem revertidos para a sociedade em geral, já que você será uma melhor pessoa moral e eticamente falando. Um virtuoso, por fim. E por virtude, eles definem como “as situações que envolvem as faculdades de escolha, julgamento, desejo, emocionais e de ação”. Para que uma comunidade possa ser enquadrada como compartilhada entre pares (ou seja, um coletivo sem hierarquia definida), para os autores, ela precisa ter três estruturas: 1) as tarefas precisam ser modulares de forma a ser divididas entre os voluntários; 2) possuir variações de engajamento, sendo umas atividades mais complexas e outras mais simples, como meio para atrair o maior número de perfis para as tarefas – e consequentemente agilizar o processo de produção, uma vez que as tarefas são pulverizadas; e 3) ter um baixo custo na execução de cada módulo para a construção de um produto final. Repetindo: 1) módulos, 2) variações de complexidade das tarefas e 3) baixo custo. Como se vê e como dito anteriormente, a organização do BaixoCentro se enquadra nas três estruturas. Mas quais seriam as virtudes trabalhadas dentro de um coletivo? Benkler e Nissenbaum as dividiram em quatro diferentes clusters, que são: 1) autonomia, independência, liberdade; 2) criatividade, produtividade e processos industriais (aqui, no sentido genérico do termo); 3) benevolência, caridade, generosidade e altruísmo; e 4) sociabilidade, camaradismo, amizade, cooperação e virtude cívica. Para eles, não é necessário possuir essas qualidades antes de se engajar em um determinado coletivo. Pelo contrário. Será dentro deles que a virtude será trabalhada e desenvolvida. Como eles falam, “nós sugerimos que a emergência da produção por meio de pares ofereça a oportunidade para que mais pessoas se engajem em práticas que permitem que se mostre e experimente comportamentos virtuosos.” Ou seja, se você for um reacionário, troglodita, misógino e individualista, trabalhar em coletivo vai te curar de todos os seus problemas.

Indo um pouco mais além, a pesquisadora Claire Bishop, em suas análises sobre arte participativa, acredita que não é somente dentro do núcleo de organização que se trabalha a virtuosidade cívica, mas também quando se está interagindo com a intervenção criada. De acordo com ela, “para muitos artistas e curadores da esquerda, a afirmação de Guy Debord sobre a alienação e os efeitos divisórios do capitalismo em seu A Sociedade do Espetáculo atinge no coração do porque participação é importante para o projeto [arte participativa]: ele re-humaniza a sociedade atávica e fragmentada pela instrumentalização repressiva da produção capitalista.” E ela vai mais fundo ainda: “arte participativa, em seu sentido mais restrito, acaba com a ideia de espectador e sugere um novo entendimento de arte sem audiência, uma arte em que todo mundo é produtor. Ao mesmo tempo, a existência de uma audiência é impossível de se eliminar, uma vez que é impossível para que todo mundo participe em todos os projetos.”

Voltando ao BaixoCentro, para justamente quebrar esta barreira entre quem é produtor, quem é artista e quem é público (porque nós vemos todo mundo como sociedade civil e é isso que é importante para a gente), nós criamos a figura do “cuidador”. Em vez de pensar em uma curadoria formal em que atividades são escolhidas dentro de um escopo definido por alguém (ou alguéns), nós decidimos aceitar toda e qualquer atividade que a gente recebeu pelas chamadas públicas. E em vez de produzi-las no sentido mais prático do termo, designamos alguém para cuidar da atividade junto ao proponente. Assim, nós não éramos responsáveis inteiramente pela produção da intervenção, e os artistas – ou proponentes – não deixavam de participar na construção real de sua ideia ou projeto. “Somos todos produtores”, como dizemos.

Quando vi a descrição da mesa de hoje, não pude deixar de reparar no título: “Nós da criação coletiva”. “Nós da criação coletiva”. Quando falado, sem pensar na gramática da construção, o “nós” nos remete a uma primeira pessoa do plural. Algo que não só me contempla, mas como também contempla tantos outros. Mas quem seria esse “nós”, esses outros? Quais pessoas estariam dentro da classificação de atores ou agentes de uma construção coletiva? Seriam os organizadores dos coletivos, um núcleo duro, como a gente do BaixoCentro chama? Ou seriam todos os proponentes, no caso do BaixoCentro, que se propuseram a dedicar tempo e energia para fazer atividades nas ruas? Seriam os diferentes públicos que também estão inseridos dentro desta construção, já que são eles quem consome e é modificado por todo este processo?

A meu ver, antes mesmo de se pensar em respostas a essas perguntas, o mais interessante desta primeira pessoa do plural, desse “nós”, é a ideia de haver um Outro com quem nos identificamos. Uma identidade que não necessariamente é unidade (somos todos iguais), mas que relaciona as diferentes práticas a um fim que, teoricamente, possui uma similaridade de processo. Então, a pergunta vira outra: qual é esse processo que nos identifica e que nos relaciona? O que é essa “criação coletiva” que classifica a nossa forma de atuação? E o que diferencia essa “criação coletiva” de uma não-coletiva? Seria a falta de um Outro no mesmo processo? Mas qual criação se pode falar que não depende de um Outro para acontecer e ser realizada?

Agora, se analisarmos o título pelo ponto de vista gramatical, da ordem da língua portuguesa, o “nós” sem ser seguido por uma vírgula para definição de um aposto pode ser entendido (não que seja o caso) como laços, como aquelas amarras feitas em cordas para segurar determinado objeto. E caindo para um linguajar popular, os “nós” se tornam os problemas, as complicações de determinado assunto. Por exemplo, “aquele trampo lá deu um nó, mas um nó, que só a Sta Desatadora de Nós para resolver”. Daí, então, por esta perspectiva, quais seriam os “nós”, os problemas, de uma criação coletiva? Será que são só virtudes que são geradas quando nos relacionamos tão próximos do Outro?

O que Benkler, Nissenbaum e Bishop esquecem é que comunidades (ou movimentos ou coletivos), sejam eles online ou físicas, não são espaços neutros em que apenas qualidades (ou virtudes) são trabalhadas. Nelas, também se vêem muitos vícios em suas dinâmicas, como alguns casos de quando “forks” (ou seja, outras comunidades que trabalham com o mesmo código base, mas querem ir por um outro caminho) são formados e quebram a harmonia de todo um grupo. A meritocracia, que é base também para as dinâmicas das comunidades de software livre, também surge como um grande problema, uma vez que um integrante pode se diferenciar dos demais e, dependendo do que for, pode gerar mais atritos e muito menos virtudes.

Durante o processo do BaixoCentro, tivemos diferentes aproximações com outros coletivos que atuam (ou começaram a atuar) nas ruas de São Paulo. Lembro que o primeiro festival foi organizado em 2012, ano de eleição para a prefeitura da cidade. Logo depois de organizar as mais de 120 atividades em 10 dias no fim de março daquele ano, a campanha do agora prefeito Fernando Haddad nos contatou para que explicássemos o movimento ao então candidato. Como somos um grupo independente de órgãos públicos ou privados, não participamos do encontro, já que a gente teria, então, que fazer o mesmo com todos os outros candidatos, o que não convinha e nem era de nosso interesse. Tempos mais tarde, porém, surge a gigantesca campanha política “#Amor Sim, Russomano Não”, em que o princípio era ocupar um espaço público (no caso a Praça Roosevelt, então denominada Praça Rosa, para amenizar o vermelho-PT) com atividades culturais durante um dia inteiro como manifestação contra um candidato. A iniciativa deu tão certo que um filho surgiu, o grupo “Existe Amor Em SP” que, como o BaixoCentro, organizou diversas atividades em espaços públicos, mas dessa vez espalhados pela cidade e não focados em uma determinada localidade. O “Existe Amor”, como é bem sabido entre os grupos e coletivos que atuam nas ruas de São Paulo, foi a primeira entrada do Fora do Eixo no eixo Rio-São Paulo. E, neste processo, vários integrantes do próprio BaixoCentro participaram do Existe Amor, organizando atividades e discutindo sobre o uso cultural dos espaços públicos. Cogitou-se, então, um apoio formal do BaixoCentro ao Existe Amor, como se os dois movimentos fosse apenas um só. O problema é que parte das pessoas que integram o BaixoCentro era totalmente contra o Fora do Eixo, suas premissas e, muito mais importante, a forma como eles se organizavam e tratavam seus integrantes.

Olha o nó!

Nas comunidades de software livre, o “fork” surge como uma possível solução. Ou seja, se um determinado grupo do coletivo quer, por exemplo, quer uma derivação daquele código se torne proprietário e não mais aberto e livre, o “fork” é criado. Dessa forma, o grupo se desmembra e os dois objetivos podem ser atingidos. Mas o processo do “fork”, em algumas vezes, não é tão virtuoso e simples quanto se parece. São necessárias muitas discussões e tentativas de entendimento do Outro que vão além de qualquer preparo anterior. E como já disse Benkler e Nissenbaum, não é preciso ter as virtudes antes de participar destes grupos.

No fim, no caso do BaixoCentro, depois de discussões homéricas, continuamos com o BaixoCentro independente e sem ligações formais com o Fora do Eixo (digo “ligações formais” porque durante o segundo festival – se por interesse, pirraça ou apenas altruísmo, não sei – eles montaram o QG de documentação no mesmo local que o nosso, lá na Casa de Cultura Digital). Mas o que me interessa deste caso é o embate com o Outro para se tentar chegar a uma solução.

Existe uma passagem em um livro de Chantal Mouffe em que ela explica os conceitos da “democracia radical” que eu sempre uso em textos sobre o BaixoCentro. Para Mouffe, o espaço público é o lugar de antagonismos que geram uma democracia na raiz, radical. É o conflito entre os diferentes que torna possível a pluralidade da sociedade e que ideias opostas coexistem até se chocarem em uma discussão necessariamente política. Ela diz: “quando aceitamos que toda identidade é relacional e que a condição de existência de qualquer identidade é a afirmação de uma diferença, ou seja, a determinação de um ‘outro’ que irá atuar com o papel de um ‘excluído constituído’, é possível entender como o antagonismo emerge. No âmbito das identificações coletivas, nas quais o que está em questão é a criação de um ‘nós’ pela delimitação de um ‘eles’, a possibilidade sempre existe de que a relação nós/eles se torne uma relação do tipo amigo/inimigo. (…) Isto pode acontecer quando o outro, que era considerado até aquele momento apenas como um modo de diferença, começa a ser perseguido como negador de nossa identidade, como se questionasse a nossa própria existência. A partir desse momento, qualquer tipo de relação nós/eles, seja religiosa, étnica, de nacionalidade, econômica ou outras quaisquer, se torna palco para um antagonismo político.”

E é essa relação entre “nós/eles” que, acredito, está imersa dentro da concepção de uma “criação coletiva”. O “nós”, se voltarmos a considerar como pronome da primeira pessoa do plural, é uma afirmação de que existe um outro, um “eles”, um diferente ali que faz com que nos delimitamos como um grupo, um coletivo. Faz com que haja uma identificação dentro de nosso processo que, se não contradiz, é antagônica ao que é então praticada. Mas, ao mesmo tempo, dentro desse mesmo pronome, há um outro “nó”, que é a relação entre as pessoas que se identificam como iguais mesmo sendo completamente diferentes. Ou seja, os integrantes desse “nós”. É a relação intra-coletivo que, também, não deixa de ser um antagonismo político.

Com tudo isso, e já encerrando, o que acho que seria interessante para discutir nesta mesa é a própria caracterização dos processos dentro de uma “criação coletiva”. Se existe realmente um “nós”, pronome, quem faz parte dele? Pegando o caso do BaixoCentro, seriam os organizadores, os proponentes, ou o público? Mas se o público faz parte integrante da própria intervenção, como definir a linha que separa entre o “nós” e “eles”? Até onde podemos falar que uma criação é realmente coletiva ou individual?

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No dia 4 de março, o publicitário Roberto Duailibi publicou um artigo em sua coluna contra os grafites em São Paulo. Intitulado “Queremos ser a capital do grafite?“, o artigo demonstra uma ignorância assustadora sobre esta vertente artística e sobre os próprios processos urbanísticos da cidade.

Ao ler o texto, fiquei extremamente indignado com a abordagem e, no ímpeto do sentimento, escrevi o texto abaixo, que mandei para todos os emails que encontrei do Estadão mas que claro não foi publicado (até porque já era bem tarde da noite).

Como registro, publico aqui a indignação.

Caro Sr. Duailibi,

sua opinião sobre os grafites na cidade de São Paulo me fez pensar em temas muito mais amplos. A questão não está mais na apropriação da arte por vozes oprimidas pelas forças hegemônicas, mas sim na construção de pensamento da educação privada que tanto se expande em um país como o Brasil. Ao ler/ver/escutar sobre o sucateamento da educação pública (principalmente em nosso querido Tucanistão e em um ano de eleição no esquema Fla x Flu), penso que, às vezes, o problema não é a educação pública, mas sim a educação como um todo estar mal estruturada. Ler seus pensamentos sobre uma vertente artística legítima me faz pensar que erramos também na educação privada.

O grafite, por definição, é a representação de uma voz oprimida dentro das questões tanto do mercado da arte como do próprio urbanismo. Políticas urbanas como as “broken windows” (ou janelas quebradas), em que a repressão policial é usada para barrar qualquer possibilidade de uso orgânico do espaço, demonstram a força e o poder de articulação de uma expressão que usa as ruas e os muros como telas e como meios de comunicação com os “comuns”. O grafite é a emergência de uma demanda, de um pedido, de uma situação ignorada e reprimida. Só esse argumento simples e extremamente visível em qualquer periferia (não à toa que a Polícia Militar é o meio para o genocídio de jovens negros e pobres) demonstra que a expressão artística do grafite não é nada “fascista”. Não nasce e não se propaga por meio de discursos e conceitos restritivos. Muito pelo contrário. O grafite surge como uma expressão latente de uma camada da população diretamente oprimida por causa do discurso hegemônico, privado, que entende que o gosto da arte está ligado às elites e não às periferias.

A administração municipal fez muito bem ao estruturar uma grande avenida, com circulação diária de pessoas extremamente alta, como tela para estas vozes até então escondidas em guetos e em articulações alternativas. Passar todos os dias pela 23 de maio e ver diferentes traços e prospecções artísticas é de uma progressão imensurável comparada às administrações anteriores que tivemos nesta grande metrópole.

São Paulo, para a sua informação, não é só reconhecida por estes eventos privados que você tanto se orgulha (como “feiras, exposições, convenções, reuniões importantes”). Não. São Paulo é reconhecida, inclusive no mundo da arte internacional (eu entendi que você não entende sobre arte. Tudo bem, mas vamos pensar sobre o tema antes de escrever para um grande jornal), por sua vocação em arte de rua. Se você conheceu Os Gêmeos em sua fase de expor em galerias e fazer trabalhos comissionados, saiba que eles começaram como qualquer outro grafiteiro: ocupando os muros que estavam ali e separavam a vida deles da sua vida de elite paulistana. O grafite tem sim “relevância mundial”, muito mais do que você imagina pelo seu desconhecimento do que é arte e quais discussões existem dentre deste campo.

Sinto-me extremamente frustrado ao ler o seu artigo em um grande jornal principalmente por saber que o Sr. não é nenhum ignorante em termos de formação. E se não é, por que decide ser tão ignorante publicamente? Acredito que nós devemos não só discutir os problemas da formação pública, mas também incluir os problemas da formação privada porque opiniões sem nenhum embasamento ou teor crítico como estas só trazem a desinformação para uma cidade para lá de caótica como São Paulo.

E viva o grafite!

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Durante dois anos, me mudei para o norte do estado de Nova York para me dedicar ao meu mestrado em estudos curatoriais pelo Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS) na Bard College. O meu interesse como trabalho de conclusão foi discutir os mecanismos de controle usados pelo governo e pelo mercado imobiliário para manipular comunidades no espaço urbano. Como existem vários destes mecanismos, decidi me dedicar a um só: a nomenclatura de ruas e bairros. O princípio foi entender como uma simples mudança de nome pode afetar diretamente uma determinada comunidade e começar um processo de gentrificação rápido e insensível.

Para tanto, usei obras de quatro artistas de diferentes nacionalidades, gênero e idade para apontar sobre as plurais percepções sobre o espaço urbano e como ele interfere diretamente na vida que levamos nas grandes cidades. O meu ponto de partida foi um conto de Italo Calvino, presente no livro “Cidades Invisíveis”, em que ele descreve a cidade de Zaira, um lugar onde a navegação pelas vias se dá por meio da memória e do laço afetivo que se tem com a infraestrutura arquitetônica do espaço:

Inutilmente, magnânimo Kublai, tentarei descrever a cidade de Zaíra dos altos bastiões. Poderia falar de quantos degraus são feitas as ruas em forma de escada, da circunferência dos arcos dos pórticos, de quais lâminas de zinco são recobertos os tetos; mas sei que seria o mesmo que não dizer nada. A cidade não é feita disso, mas das relações entre as medidas de seu espaço e os acontecimentos do passado: a distância do solo até um lampião e os pés pendentes de um usurpador enforcado; o fio esticado do lampião à balaustrada em frente e os festões que empavesavam o percurso do cortejo nupcial da rainha; a altura daquela balaustrada e o salto do adúltero que foge de madrugada; a inclinação de um canal que escoa a água das chuvas e o passo majestoso de um gato que se introduz numa janela; a linha de tiro da canhoneira que surge inesperadamente atrás do cabo e a bomba que destrói o canal; os rasgos nas redes de pesca e os três velhos remendando as redes que, sentados no molhe, contam pela milésima vez a história da canhoneira do usurpador, que dizem ser o filho ilegítimo da rainha, abandonado de cueiro ali sobre o molhe.

A cidade se embebe como uma esponja dessa onda que reflui das recordações e se dilata. Uma descrição de Zaíra como é atualmente deveria conter todo o passado de Zaíra. Mas a cidade não conta o seu passado, ela o contém como as linhas da mão, escrito nos ângulos das ruas, nas grades das janelas, nos corrimãos das escadas, nas antenas dos pára-raios, nos mastros das bandeiras, cada segmento riscado por arranhões, serradelas, entalhes, esfoladuras.

Cada artista escolhido (Milton Machado, Claudio Bueno, VALIE EXPORT e Teresa Margolles) aborda diferentes pontos de como esta estrutura urbana interfere em nossa vida cotidiana. A cidade não é apenas um lugar para se morar, mas um sistema de fluxos, comunicações e controle que determinam inclusive a nova psicologia. Milton Machado, por exemplo, com o seu trabalho “História do Futuro”, demonstra com a sua figura do Nômade o movimento constante da sociedade em relação ao projeto ideal de uma cidade em constante construção. Claudio Bueno, por sua vez, demonstra as interferências que o digital pode provocar na fisicalidade do espaço sem nem ao menos precisar construir algo: tudo fica no plano virtual, acessível a qualquer momento. Já VALIE EXPORT, com suas performances no espaço urbano, questiona o quão agressiva é a arquitetura da cidade e como ela influencia no nosso processo psiquíco. E, por fim, Margolles aponta para as questões sobre imigração e fronteiras que existem entre países, por mais que elas cortem uma mesma malha urbana.

Para saber mais, publiquei no site da faculdade a introdução de meu mestrado. Ainda estou procurando uma publicação para divulgar a tese na íntegra, mas enquanto isso o capítulo inicial (em inglês ainda, mas em breve traduzo para o português) dá uma boa explicação sobre a pesquisa inteira. Junto ao texto, fiz uma exposição também com as obras dos artistas dentro do espaço expositivo de um museu. Embora não se dá para ter a real noção sobre como é o espaço, é uma bela documentação sobre o processo.

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{primeiro passo para desenvolver uma real estética da banana. Texto republicado no site Brasil Post}


I’d love to play a scene with Clark Gable
With candle lights and wine upon the table
But my producer tells me I’m not able
‘Cause I make my money with bananas1

Quando a artista brasileira Carmen Miranda se tornou a mulher mais bem sucedida do show business norte-americano na década 19402, a cultura de um país se viu comprimida no estigma de um único fruto: a banana. Seus turbantes cheios de frutos e ornamentos tropicais causaram furor na indústria do entretenimento estrangeira, de tal forma que Carmen ficou conhecida como “The Brazilian Bombshell”. O seu talento como cantora e performer, porém, muitas vezes foi ofuscado pelo caráter exótico de suas apresentações e pelo imaginário arquetipado por uma cultura estrangeira acostumada com climas mais temperados.

Já perto do fim de sua vida, a pequena granada tentou reconstruir sua identidade e fugir do enquadramento que seus produtores e a indústria tentavam lhe impor, mas sem conseguir grandes avanços. A luta instigou com que compusesse a música “I Make My Money With Bananas”, em que tenta demonstrar de forma irônica os anseios de ser esteriotipada pela indústria e, por causa disso, ganhar mais dinheiro do que o ator Mickey Rooney. Seu inglês carregado propositalmente no sotaque foi considerado como um demonstrativo de sua ignorância, o que foi imortalizado pela expressão “Bananas is my business”. Em vez de entenderem as críticas ao produtor que não a deixava atuar com estrelas como Clark Gable, o público recebeu a obra como um demonstrativo de inferioridade cultural e caráter exótico de suas performances.

O estigma da banana não é algo restrito apenas à cultura brasileira, embora as primeiras plantações do fruto no continente tenham começado durante a colonização portuguesa entre os séculos XV e XVI. Ele se expande por toda região latino-americana. Foi por meio do crescente mercado nos Estados Unidos logo após a Guerra Civil que a banana se tornou popular pelo Caribe e alguns países da América do Sul. Em 1870, o capitão Lorenzo Dow Baker importou o fruto da Jamaica para vender em Boston com uma margem de lucro de cerca de 1,000%, graças ao seu baixo custo e aspectos nutritivos. Vendo o potencial comercial do fruto, Henry Keith, um grande empresário de ferrovias, iniciou diversas plantações ao redor de suas linhas de trem, como forma de alimentar seus operários. O sucesso do empreendimento foi tanto que, no meio da década de 1870, Keith fundou a Tropical Trading and Transport Company, que mais tarde se tornaria a United Fruit Company e dona da marca Chiquita Brands International. Com o mercado consumidor de bananas crescendo, as plantações nos países caribenhos e sulinos aumentaram, assim como a influência de empresas norte-americanas na região – o que, mais tarde, gerou o termo “Banana Republics” e inspirou Pablo Neruda a compor um poema (veja apêndice) apenas sobre o tema. Hoje, só o Equador representa 29% do mercado de exportação de fruto, à frente da Colômbia e Costa Rica que, cada, é responsável por 10%.

What I do is the bunch chic chic
I’m getting sick of the bunch chic chic
My throat is troubled ay ay ay
She can see ky-ky-kow —— boy!

Este imaginário provocado pela banana e a estigmatização de várias culturas latinas sob o mesmo fruto instigaram a criação de diversos artistas contemporâneos. A banana, por fim, é usada para criticar a visão exterior que se tem de culturas isoladas dos eixo Norte-Ocidental e para questionar a própria identificação e produção artística de um país.

O artista mexicano baseado em São Paulo, Brasil, Hector Zamora, por exemplo, usou as plantains para suas instalações “Delirio Atopico (Atopic Delirium)” (2009) no centro de Bogotá, na Colômbia, como forma de criar questionamentos econômicos e políticos na região. Para as instalações, o artista usou dois diferentes prédios, um próximo ao outro e com grandes janelas transparentes, para ocupar os apartamentos com o fruto de forma que desse a impressão de superprodução. Os transeuntes viam as fachadas dos prédios como se as plantains estivessem vazando pelas janelas. Uma explosão de bananas. Zamora instalou bananas verdes, bem no início de seu processo de maturação, para que as tonalidades de cores mudassem conforme o tempo. Assim, de verde passa para o amarelo; do amarelo para o marrom e, por fim, do marrom para o preto. A cultura colombiana é uma das únicas que usam o fruto em seus diferentes estágios de maturação, o que caracteriza a obra como uma clara relação do fruto com a cultura nacional. Além disso, a explosão de bananas nos edifícios causa a impressão de que o fruto substituiu as pessoas que poderiam ocupar esses apartamentos, como uma sobreposição de um imaginário sobre a veracidade do dia a dia da realidade colombiana. A fruta se sobrepõe à condição de ser humano.

Os trabalhos de Zamora procuram ter uma forte relação com o contexto em que se está trabalhando. Em 2010, a pedido do Instituto Itaú Cultural, também sediado em São Paulo, Zamora pendurou seis mudas de árvore sobre o rio Tamanduateí como forma de questionar a canalização de vias fluviais e o aumento expansivo de vias para trânsito na cidade. A obra “Errante” (2010) foi a maneira do artista de questionar a solução de sintomas, em vez dos reais problemas, em uma cidade hiper caótica e sem políticas urbanas estruturais sérias e de longo prazo. A floresta suspensa tenta descrever uma possível cidade que não existe. Uma fantasmagórica idealização de um projeto urbano mais focado na qualidade de vida do que na pavimentação de espaços para o tráfego de carros.

As bananas usadas para “Delirio Atopico (Atopic Delirium)” representam esta ponte entre a cultura local e a realidade socio-econômica da região. A carga simbólica que o fruto carrega nas culturas latinas facilmente conecta com o dia a dia do público, provocando uma identificação que, muitas vezes, não é necessariamente positiva. A percepção do que é produzido nos países principalmente da região sul da América fica restrita apenas às bananas, ignorando que há vida além da simbologia do fruto.

Esse valor simbólico também pode ser encontrado nas obras do artista brasileiro Paulo Nazareth. Em “Banana Market/Art Market” (2011), por exemplo, Nazareth estacionou uma Kombi verde durante a feira de arte Art Basel Miami e a carregou com dezenas de cachos de bananas. A obra-performance consistia em assinar e vender cada unidade por $10 como uma forma de 1) relacionar a produção artística contemporânea dos países latino-americanos, 2) mostrar o valor simbólico que o fruto tem na realidade do “mundo da arte” e 3) questionar o próprio mercado de obras de arte. Além disso, Nazareth carregava uma placa escrito “My image of exotic man for sale” e cobrava apenas $1 por um retrato seu.

Ao reafirmar seu caráter exótico e explorar a simbologia do fruto, Nazareth pode ser facilmente comparado ao imaginário criado e reforçado por Carmen Miranda. Ambos construíram suas carreiras (Miranda na indústria do entretenimento e Nazareth no “paradigma da arte contemporânea”) baseados em estereótipos e arquétipos de uma cultura latino-americana. Potencializam e exploram o considerado exótico em sua produção artística como forma de questionar e demonstrar a recepção de seus trabalhos que foi resumida e condensada em apenas um fruto: a banana.

No fim, há um ciclo vicioso entre a recepção da cultura latina (que explora o exótico) e a produção forçada dos artistas a ser exótica. Isso é explícito no caso de Nazareth, que entende muito bem as construções e percepções da cultura latina no exterior. Para ser aceito no “paradigma da arte contemporânea”, Nazareth reforça os estereótipos em sua produção, que casa perfeitamente com a ânsia do mercado da arte de explorar este imaginário. O mercado demanda o exótico, o artista o produz como forma de questioná-lo mas ao mesmo tempo ser “aceito” e, por fim, o mercado o reforça. Mesmo tentando criar uma crítica a este tipo de recepção, o artista e a produção ficam estigmatizados pela vontade de ver o outro como algo tão irreal que, automaticamente, alcança o status de arte, de performance, de uma commodity a ser explorada e reforçada.

Isso fica ainda mais claro no trabalho de um outro artista brasileiro, Breno Pineschi. Durante as Olímpiadas de Londres, a Secretaria de Cultura do Rio De Janeiro enviou à cidade inglesa 29 artistas cariocas para promover o projeto “Rio Occupation London”. Pineschi ficou em residência no The Victoria and Albert Museum durante o mês de julho de 2012 produzindo oficinas e convocando o público da instituição a montar diversas bananas coloridas de papel que o artista espalharia pela cidade. Os “Tropical Clusters” (2012) são intervenções em postes e estruturas urbanas nos quais Pineschi pendura cachos de bananas coloridas. De acordo com o artista, é uma forma de atrair a atenção do público e convidá-lo a “comer a cultura carioca”. O uso da simbologia da banana, mais uma vez, é o meio para reforçar e ilustrar a cultura de uma região da América Latina e, neste caso, mais especificamente da cultura do Rio de Janeiro, conhecida tradicionalmente como “Brazil for export”. Explora-se o imaginário do exótico como forma de promover a cultura local, mas ao mesmo aumenta-se o estereótipo e esta demanda pelo “tropical”.

Oh, but if I quit my job it’s not disturbing
I’d use very often a liter of bourbon
‘Cause I can sit and in one minute eat my turban
And still make my money with my bananas
It isn’t even funny that I make a little more money
than that little Mickey Rooney with bananas!

Desde a época da Carmen Miranda há em vão a tentativa de quebrar estes paradigmas impostos às diversas culturas. A pequena granada achou que uma música questionando o seu “ganha-pão”, talvez, gerasse mais discussões e a libertasse de preconceitos e estereótipos referentes à sua nacionalidade e cultura. Foi em vão. E desde aquela época, da primeira metade do século passado, as culturas latino-americanas se vêem enclausuradas em um único fruto. Por esse apego quase inseparável, a banana virou uma commodity para o “paradigma da arte contemporânea” e uma ditadura criativa. Se um artista quer fazer parte do mundo da arte, que ele explore e contemple o exótico do caráter tropical. No fim, é uma luta sem fim. É uma batalha entre dois lados pelo mesmo símbolo como meio de garantir que o ciclo nunca termine. O escritor brasileiro Machado de Assis, em 1891, em sua obra “Quincas Borba”, por meio de um cachorro filósofo, descreve a situação de duas tribos que entram em conflito para garantir seu sustento. Ao finalizar a luta, em que só pode sobrar um, conclui: “Ao vencido, ódio ou compaixão; ao vencedor, as batatas”.

Sem problemas, I make my money with bananas.


“La United Fruit Co.”
Cuando sonó la trompeta, estuvo
todo preparado en la tierra,
y Jehova repartió el mundo
a Coca-Cola Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, y otras entidades:
la Compañía Frutera Inc.
se reservó lo más jugoso,
la costa central de mi tierra,
la dulce cintura de América.

Bautizó de nuevo sus tierras
como “Repúblicas Bananas,”
y sobre los muertos dormidos,
sobre los héroes inquietos
que conquistaron la grandeza,
la libertad y las banderas,
estableció la ópera bufa:
enajenó los albedríos
regaló coronas de César,
desenvainó la envidia, atrajo
la dictadora de las moscas,
moscas Trujillos, moscas Tachos,
moscas Carías, moscas Martínez,
moscas Ubico, moscas húmedas
de sangre humilde y mermelada,
moscas borrachas que zumban
sobre las tumbas populares,
moscas de circo, sabias moscas
entendidas en tiranía.

Entre las moscas sanguinarias
la Frutera desembarca,
arrasando el café y las frutas,
en sus barcos que deslizaron
como bandejas el tesoro
de nuestras tierras sumergidas.

Mientras tanto, por los abismos
azucarados de los puertos,
caían indios sepultados
en el vapor de la mañana:
un cuerpo rueda, una cosa
sin nombre, un número caído,
un racimo de fruta muerta
derramada en el pudridero.
[Pablo Neruda, from Canto General (1950)]

1Letras da música “I Make My Money With Bananas”, por Carmen Miranda

2Em 1945, ela era a mulher mais bem paga dos Estados Unidos, de acordo com o artigo na Wikipedia sobre a artista: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmen_Miranda (acessado em May 19th, 2013)

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{Publicado originalmente no blog Trezentos.}

A Virada Cultural, todos os anos, traz a polêmica sobre a real utilidade de 24h de cultura concentrada no centro de São Paulo. As discussões vão desde o montante gasto pelos cofres públicos para gerir todas as atividades, até quais os reais critérios da curadoria para selecionar aquela e não esta atividade. Neste ano, parece que a Secretaria decidiu em vez de colocar apenas um curador, criar uma equipe que será dedicada a estabelecer quais atividades acontecerão em quais locais.

A classe artística (seja lá quem ela for) tem todo o direito em questionar os verdadeiros critérios que orientam as escolhas das bandas que tocarão nos palcos. Historicamente, vemos uma concentração de atividades mais populares em regiões já tradicionais para estes tipo de show (cruzamento da Ipiranga com a São João, Vale do Anhangabaú, Praça da Sé, e por aí vai) e pulverização de outras atividades por outros lugares da cidade que, muitas vezes, nem transporte público acessível se tem. Mas não será uma equipe de curadoria que resolverá este problema, até porque pode-se jogar a discussão para um outro lado: quem curou os curadores? O que a Virada Cultural realmente precisa é uma representatividade das regiões e bairros da cidade como parte da programação.

Em uma entrevista a TV Trabalhadores, Sérgio Mamberti, diretor da Secretaria de Políticas Culturais do Ministério da Cultura, afirmou que o Festival BaixoCentro, colaborativo e horizontal, é a verdadeira Virada Cultural. E não acho que seja somente pela questão da ocupação das ruas, mas sim, acredito, porque qualquer um tem a possibilidade de se apresentar em sua região. Desde o músico que está começando a sua carreira até os que já percorram longos caminhos na estrada têm a mesma oportunidade de montar a sua banda na praça pública ao lado de casa, com a possibilidade de interagir com um público vasto, diverso e interessado.

A Virada Cultural, da forma que está estruturada hoje, impede com que a verdadeira expressão cultural de uma região emirja para ocupar as ruas. São, na grande maioria (acho que excluindo os CEUs e alguns locais mais distantes do centro de São Paulo), atividades de fora daquela localidade ou com atuação a-geográfica. A meu ver, a Virada, pelos valores e energia investidos, deveria ser um retrato cultural do que é a cidade hoje. Deveria abrir caminhos para que nossas possibilidades artísticas e sonoras estejam disponíveis ao público de graça e sem burocracia.

É focado neste modelo que acho, por exemplo, que as subprefeituras deveriam exercer um papel atuante neste processo, sendo o caminho prático e rápido para que a comunidade de uma determinada região aponte e estimule a produção cultural que existe ali. Em vez de confiar apenas em uma equipe de curadores, estimular com que pequenos outros palcos e locais de apresentação sejam estruturados para que estas atividades locais possam emergir. E isso poderia acontecer com uma simples chamada pública e cadastro pelas subprefeituras, em que o proponente precisaria necessariamente comprovar algum vínculo com o local escolhido pela apresentação (não necessariamente moradia fixa, mas vínculo afetivo e também prático). As subprefeituras precisam exercer um papel mais ativo nas comunidades das regiões, e não ser apenas organizadoras de burocracia ou reuniões do Conseg (Conselho de Segurança). Cada uma precisa ter um departamento cultural atuante, em parceria com a sociedade civil, para estimular as atividades naquele bairro e promover a ocupação dos espaços públicos não somente durante a Virada Cultural.

A Virada pode ser o pretexto perfeito para criar essa cultura de envolver a sociedade civil junto às subprefeituras, e fazer um canal direto entre o que as pessoas de um bairro precisam e o que o governo pode prover e facilitar. No fim, a Secretaria de Cultura se tornaria apenas a cabeça que geriria e criaria/pleitearia políticas públicas para suprir as necessidades provindas das diversas regiões da cidade. O evento, então, não se tornaria apenas atividades gratuitas, mas também retrato sobre o que está sendo criado artisticamente em SP.

Uma virada, por fim, representativa.

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Desculpe-nos, mas este texto esta apenas disponível em English.

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O Ateliê 397 publica, vez ou outra, dossiês temáticos e convidam diversos autores para dar seus depoimentos e opiniões. Na segunda edição, sob o tema Ocupação, eu e Malu Andrade escrevemos um artigo explicando o que é o Festival BaixoCentro.

Reproduzo abaixo a minha parte, em que explico como os eventos em praças públicas tornam a cidade mais humana.



Humanização Urbanística

Por Thiago Carrapatoso

Os movimentos recentes contra o sistema econômico atual, conhecidos como “occupy-algo” ou “ocupe-algo” (derivados de tantos outros movimentos, como os Indignados espanhóis ou a Primavera Árabe), demonstram que os cidadãos estão carentes de espaços para se expressar. A questão deixa de ser realmente o sistema macro para se tornar o micro, o vizinho, o que está muito próximo.

São Paulo é uma megalópole. É uma cidade horizontalmente vertical. As ruas parecem ser as únicas veias para que o ar flua e o vento faça com que a cidade respire e continue funcionando. Em uma vista panorâmica, se tem a ideia de que há um povo esquecido no meio de tantos projetos urbanísticos e condomínios de luxo. São Paulo, devido a suas proporções, tornou-se um emaranhado de construções, de obras, de prédios. Como pensar em uma identidade coletiva quando o cinza é o nosso vizinho, quando não se tem ideia de comunidade, mas apenas de pequenas bolhas fechadas às influências de fora? Não se sente o ar, não se sente o espaço para subjetividades. Tudo passa a ser concreto, cinza, institucional, grande, fechado. O micro e o sujeito ficam esquecidos. As reivindicações parecem ser muito mais do que apenas gritos contra governos ou sistemas econômicos. São vozes que querem reivindicar a própria voz.

Para piorar, as políticas públicas para áreas centrais da cidade são catastróficas. Situações sociais são falsamente resolvidas com aparato militar. Expressão de rua emergente, o grafite feito em pilastras ou paredes de um centro degradado é apagado com tinta bege. Construções históricas, tombadas por órgãos governamentais, dão lugar a apartamentos triplex com varandas gourmet que custam mais do que o trabalhador médio receberá em toda a sua vida. Segundo o Banco Interamericano de Desenvolvimento, 62% das famílias paulistanas não têm dinheiro para adquirir uma moradia própria[1].

Os cidadãos passam a acreditar que o que é público, financiado com dinheiro dos impostos pagos por eles mesmos, não é deles. As praças, as ruas, os órgãos públicos são geridos por políticas públicas cujas decisões parecem não fazer parte do cotidiano desse mesmo trabalhador médio que não tem dinheiro para pagar uma moradia, mas tem que arcar com tributos que chegam a 30% do valor bruto de seu salário. O medo de ocupar o espaço público dá lugar à ditadura do “pedir permissão”. Se um órgão público não autoriza, não se pode fazer nada nas ruas ou em lugar algum. O cidadão, já sufocado pelo concreto, sente-se preso por não compreender a máquina que rege a sua vida.

O Festival BaixoCentro demonstra que a vida cultural urbana não é feita apenas de instituições. Nosso intuito foi o de exemplificar que as leis já garantem o direito de ocupação, que não é necessário pedir autorização para órgãos públicos para organizar uma oficina de estêncil, um cinema ao ar livre ou um show em horário comercial em uma praça pública. Legalmente, as ruas e praças já nasceram como palcos para arte, como lugares de encontro e expressão. E isso é um direito do cidadão, só cabe a ele usá-las para dançar.

São Paulo precisa ser ocupada pelas pessoas, e não por concreto ou por políticas públicas opressoras. Os cidadãos precisam ter consciência de seu papel. Precisam sair da bolha casa-carro-trabalho-carro-casa-carro-shopping-carro-casa. Precisam entender que é bom sentir o vento de uma brisa formada pelos corredores dos arranha-céus. Precisam compreender que a arte não desaparece mesmo que as paredes sejam pintadas de bege. Precisam estar abertos a experimentar, por fim, uma cidade mais humana. O Festival BaixoCentro é um espaço para experimentar essa humanização urbanística. Vamos dançar?


1. Fonte: Folha de S. Paulo, “Mais de 60% das famílias não podem comprar casa em São Paulo” (http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/1089968-mais-de-60-das-familias-nao-podem-comprar-casa-em-sao-paulo.shtml)

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