Friday, March 25, 2016

BTC 2016, Madre de Deus

It seems my blog has been reduced to the occasional super important event, a couple posts a year, if I can actually be bothered to write something.  That's okay.  This blog had it's run, it was fun, and it gave me a chance to vent at a time that I didn't really have much of an opportunity to do so.

So here in Brazil we find ourselves in the midst of a massive political crisis, an attempt at the impeachment of the president, an attempt at jailing a wildly popular ex-president, and the attempt to shield him from prison.  I'm not going to write about that.  I don't really understand it, it's terrifying, but I'm not a reporter and wouldn't pretend to have an educated opinion on the subject.  However, I will say this: it occurred to me a couple years ago that I arrived in Brazil at what may be viewed historically as a lull in the storm: the economy was doing well, politics relatively stable, free press, etc.  If I'd showed up here during the dictatorship, during the years of hyper inflation, it's difficult for me to imagine having stayed here, and even more difficult to imagine starting a business here.  But I did both, and now that the proverbial shit is hitting the proverbial fan, what happens next?  On the one hand, if things completely unravel here it's hard to imagine that there will be guerrilla warfare in the streets of Salvador, although I suppose anything's possible.  On the other hand, is it really time for me to pull up the stakes and get the fuck out of Dodge?  The US in spite of its own political shit storm does seem to be keeping its head above water economically speaking, at least for now.  But the thought of starting over again is daunting, although it won't get any easier as I continue on the path to middle age, and I will eventually leave this place.  I decided that a long time ago.

One last thing on the subject and then I'll shut up: can anyone say "Really Bad Timing"?  Maybe this is just my non-Brazilian perspective, but Brazil is just about to host the Olympics.  It's gotten a huge amount of bad press for not getting its act together in preparing for them, not to mention the sewage in the bay and the now notorious zica virus.  It has invested millions, if not billions, to make the Olympics happen.  And now, like two months before it starts, you're going to impeach the president???  It's like your family is planning this huge party or wedding or something, catered, maybe you got the house landscaped and painted and installed a pool just for the occasion, and then the weekend before it happens there's a massive, violent fight and the cops are called and a couple family members are arrested and the whole neighborhood is in an uproar about it.  The party/wedding may still go on, but it's going to be extremely awkward and probably some people aren't going to show up.

So that's that.  Pardon the profanity, I will not be using such foul language from here on in.  In the face of political meltdown, we hosted our second graffiti event, Bahia de Todas as Cores 2016, "Esse Spray Tem Dendê."  We had it in the city of Madre de Deus, which is about an hour outside of Salvador, a city notable for it's complete domination by the petroleum industry: vast fields of massive holding tanks and elaborate pipelines that line the roads.  In spite of that, it manages to be a lovely place with lots of local charm.  One of the major differences this year from last is that everything seemed to be more relaxed, getting out of the megatropolis and away from the traffic and the negative elements was an excellent, excellent idea.  Wish I could take credit for it.

All the rest is just art and details.  I'm going to skip the details and post some art, with a little commentary.  The main wall was enormous: it snakes along the back of a neighborhood, separating it from one of these fields of petroleum holding tanks.  It's not going to get much visibility from anyone but the people in the neighborhood, but it was an awesome place to have an event.  Mostly stuck at my booth selling paint, at the end of the day yesterday I finally was able to walk the wall from one end to the other.  It became clear to me that I had two options: take dozens or perhaps hundreds of photos, or make a video of the whole thing, from one end to the other.  I opted for the latter, as I think it gives a much better sense of the continuity of the thing.  The video runs for eight and a half minutes, which gives you an idea of just how long the wall is.  It's kinda shaky, and if you have a short attention span I suggest that you skip the middle (although there are some great pieces in there) and watch the end, which has the most amazing collaboration of the event.  My phone's battery died right at the end, but luckily it happened when I reached the very last piece, the only thing that doesn't appear in the video are the logos of the sponsors, which include my store.  No biggie.  I'm not really one for self promotion.  The downside of the battery dying is that I would have taken some more photos, at least of the massive production with the western scene, but it was not to be.  I'm sure we'll have some better photos eventually on the site: - coming soon!

On Friday we had a 'multirão,' where anyone could show up and paint.  The wall was much smaller than the main wall, but it is much more central and will be seen by many more people.

This last one is probably the most important painting from the multirão, at least for the city of Madre de Deus.  It is a portrait of a 16 year old girl who was killed by a stray bullet about a week ago, she studied at the school that we painted.  The artist's name is Trigo.  I shoulda taken a photo of the finished painting, it came out really well.

All the photos that follow are from the main wall, painted over the saturday and sunday of the event.

And now, (assuming really bad fake french accent) the Pièce De Résistance: