Contemporary Art in Rio’s biggest Favela
The holes that you see above on the wall are not caused by the incessant passing of time and the consequent deterioration. Those are holes simply caused by bullets. Nothing really natural there.
We are in Rio’s biggest favela, a place where overwhelming odours and disturbing scenes of human life are unfolding under our eyes of curious tourists. Our guide explains us that before the favela was taken over by the police, in that very place where the holes are, the biggest drugs market place was occurring 24/7. Then the police came and “cleaned” the favela, leaving behind a dead drug dealer and innocent passerby. Plus the holes.
These and many other stories were told to us, incredulous listeners, who live so far from slump-reality, poverty and crime.
And even so, with roughly 740 favelas all around the city, more than 1.5 million people populating them and crime thriving, Rio is preparing itself to host the World Football Cup and, later on, the Olympic games.
We were also told that less than 1% of the people living in the favela make it up to university. Kids up to 6 years first dream of becoming famous footballer – when they become 12 and reality hits them in the face, they decide to become drug dealers. Easy and at hand.
And even so, with the crime, the poverty, the smell and the poor life conditions those people still find the time for some Art. Because through Art they can express themselves and send a message to the outer world.
These artist are called Paty, Rubio and Al… God knows who they are. But they are talented and they have a little atelier in the heart of the favela. Violently beautiful. I feel electrified. Because through Art these people found their voices and I was there to “hear” them. To see the Brazilian flag bleeding and Christ the Redeemer ominously overlooking the city. To see the favela with different eyes and to find out what the people of Rio love the most about Rio. Or hate.
We are not allowed to take pictures of the works of art, just as in any well respected and known gallery or museum in the old continent. Today was a great day, a favela day with a tiny twist of Artemporary in it.
(Daily favela tours in Rio de Janeiro organised by bealocal.com – along many other types of activities – Recommended!
For a nice stay down in Ipanema try the Bonita Ipanema Hostel – the location is perfect, just in the heart if Ipanema and 5 min walk from the beach. It features a small pool in the central courtyard, prices are really accessible, breakfast is included and the staff is really friendly. Advanced booking during national holidays recommended!)