Saturday, July 08, 2006

Vernacular Architecture

The young people of the Pereira da Silva favela (shantytown) in Rio de Janeiro have built a remarkable miniature favela that they've called Morrinho.

I've always been fascinated by models and simulacra. While at a conference in the Netherlands several years ago, my wife and I made a memorable visit to Madurodam, which we still refer to as that perfect day.

Here's most of the brief text of the article that introduced me to the favela. (Andres Otero, "Rio de Janeiro, Morrinho: Favela Metaforica," Abitare 457 (Jan 2006), pp. 140-145. The photographs were taken in 1997.)
Morrinho reproduces the world [the young people] live in. Their models are the chaotic buildings in the favelas, its dead-end roads and impossibly steep stairways, not the luxury apartment blocks of the 'asphalt' or the sea-front avenues. Pretty soon a whole town takes shape, complete with bus-stops, neighborhood associations, churches, bars, police stations, motobike taxi ranks and drug-traffic stake-outs. A favela within a favela. Everywhere there are small notices: "They betrayed me while I was alive and forgot me when I was in jail; you'll miss me when I'm dead, the saudade"; "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone or fire the first shot. Signed: PCC, CVF, mafia"; "I'm afraid Christ is passing us by and won't come back" ... The kids use the models to play at "cops and traffickers", staging shootouts, high speed reversing and road blocks. "Normal" life, but on a smaller scale. Paradoxically, their minutely detailed rendering of hard reality helps keep them away from real violence and drug trafficking. Some of them win a dregree of fame. The luckier ones manage to get a job in video and concert production, to find a way forward ...
Four of the creators: Nelciran, Rodrigo, José Carlos and Vinicius.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?