Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Place for the Public Art (part 4)

The Place fot the Public Art (part 4)

The group known as EIA (immersive ambiental experience) is in fact not just a collective of art but but also the name of a festival held annually by the group. Unlikely most of the art collectives in São Paulo, the group comprises a large number of non-artists in it, including there architects, journalists, poets, DJ's, designers, producers and eventually artists.
The festival is an open air experience in which artists and people in general are invited to take part. There is an open call for which the interested in send projects can apply. The festival is non profit and held with very little money. Each year the Festival change its format in order to make it more challenging for the group.
In the year of 2006 the EIA members split and each one went to find communities which they somehow relate and that could welcome the group for one day. Me and Felipe Brait contact the people from Diadema, an industrial city in the edge of São Paulo. As a teacher I became friend of a lot of people there, and knew mostly of the city. When contacting the people there, one guy told me about Sitio Joaninha, where he and his friends were running a theater workshop.
Sitio Joaninha officially is not named this way. Officially, Sitio Joaninha doesn't exists. It is a piece of land in the border of São Bernardo and Diadema between two water reservatories.
It was a piece of forest originally, which still can be seen in some areas. Until a few years ago the area was the city dump of Diadema. This attracted a massive population that would gather food there and recycled material. As the Sítio Joaninha was at the top of a water mine it should be absolutely forbidden any dumping there, as it would contaminate the whole water below.
So after years of usage the city dump was finally closed and put underground due to the risk of fires. Mostly of the people living at Sitio Joaninha moved to other areas. Only remained the poorest of them and the people that was actually living there, the oldest of them for more than 30 years. He told us that Joaninha is due to the name of the old owner of the land, an old woman that used to live in the forest and hasn't been seen for years.
The whole land is in her name, but been appropriated and sold to the people that lives there now. Officially is not allowed to built there, but there is a lot of houses there. As the place should not be habited, there's no official light or water system there, but the illegal electricity is all around and each two weeks a car from Diadema municipality brings water to the people.
The first person that give us shelter there was this man that been living there for around 30 years. He had been there since it was a forest, and breed pigs there. The first reunion about doing the project was on his sty.

The second person that would receive us was Pai Josias, that had an candomblé house there. Candomblé is a traditional Afro-American religion in Brasil. Pai Josias was one of the leaders of the community there. He was the one which could get water for the people there and would distribute food he get in the municipality each month. With Pai Josias we arranged a lunch for people from EIA and who else would appear and planned the whole day there. Our idea was to call attention to the place and put it in the map, pressing the public affairs of Diadema to play its role into Sitio Joaninha delicate situation.
We intended to do more a symbolic act than a proper effective act. We knew it from the start that the results would not be visible at that moment.

The day of the EIA in Sítio Joaninha was a messy one. We arrived around 30 people, in cars and some by buses that would take us around 1,5 km from there. It was raining, and some of the cars had a problem to climb the hill to get there.

Once everybody was there we were invited to enter in Pai Josias house, where there was a party for us. In the entrance blood of sacrificed animals and inside lots of ritualistic shows. that make a lot of people a bit sick actually, as they weren't really ready for that. That was a bit too strong even to me. Some of the people leave. That was the edge of an art experience with anthropological experience, it was like entering in a bubble.

We spend the day doing the projects there - which basically would include gluing posters and performances- during a kind of walk with music and flags in which everyone would be invited to take part.
One Maracatu player was invited, and we took hold of the instruments and followed him.
The interaction with the people from the place was the most touching part of the day. Like in many of the places that we make works, when there's children, they come near and want to take part.

The climax of our procession was the Radioactive performance. The Radioactive collective is one of the strong arms of EIA and their performance is always very noisy and disturbing. They took place of Sitio Joaninha's landscape and situation in a very strong way, with speeches about ecology and human rights. The reaction of the people was also very strong. They were identified with the political caos that lead people to live like that, and provoke a moment of reflection to us.
After we leave Sitio Joaninha the group had to stop to make their reflections.
The day there was one of the strongest experiences of the group, for good and for bad, and we had to recover from that.
The history of Sitio Joaninha still waits for its turn. The EIA festival could call some attention to the place, but it was very difficult to get effective actions the people need, for several reasons. Pai Josias confirmed his position of community leader and appeared in the papers, which make possible more people take contact with Sitio Joaninha reality.
And for a While we had no notice of there. Just a few days ago we've been informed that pai Josias had died in a heart attack. People from Diadema was after EIA to get images and films where he could appear, because apparently there's no filmed images from him, except EIA's. We hope this can bring again attention to Sitio Joaninha's situation, and that it can help the people from there.

more about EIA at:
and related links

No comments: