Almost there!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
10:30 am – 2:00 pm
Hot and sunny

On Tuesday, I was less motivated and felt less impressed by the beauties the “contorno” has to offer. My body resents too many planes and too much walking on stone sidewalks during the past weeks. Also, about ten days had past since our last field trip and the loss of continuity, perhaps, has contributed to this loss of momentum. It’s impossible to separate feeling achy to the lack of motivation I was feeling. How do change in moods interfere with one’s knowledge-seeking processes? Since one can’t avoid the “irrational” transformation of feelings, states, moods in the direction one desires, acknowledging the agency of embodied responses and the distortions such condition may be causing is the best option. Feeling tired and cranky makes me lose the ability to be surprised with the invisible details of my surroundings. I’m curious to examine this series of images and see if a lack of interest is evident in work I produce on a shitty day.

The first photo I made was a close up of a cotton tree, with lots of white balls hanging.  Perhaps we have seen it in its previous state (with flowers, perhaps?) in other places around the city. We passed by a small market, displaying fruits and vegetables announced with hand-written signs. The use of hand-written signs is widespread in Belo Horizonte. The fruits and vegetables seemed very fresh, like others I’ve seen in the city, seem to be more “natural” than the tasteless fruit and vegetables found in the grocery stores in Greenpoint.

The most amusing moment during our last walk was passing by a reflective building with two sculpturally shaped bushes, placed symmetrically by the building entrance. There is a feeling of fantasy and fakeness emerging from this kind of architecture and décor. But it is always surprising to observe the movements on the street reflected on the glass curtains. The undulating topography of Belo Horizonte emerges at different scales along our walk. Its most immediate expression is the sidewalks turning into stairs, mostly along streets intersecting “Contorno.” But the surrounding hills also emerge at a distance. At some point along the walk, I saw the favelas – informal settlements – taking over the surrounding hills. This view of the landscape allows us to visually juxtapose two such different realities, in terms of class, built spaces, geography, etc. While spatially segregated, two contrasted neighborhoods overlap in one frame.

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We passed a big construction site and Tamara started performing her “dance with construction fences,” repeatedly. Using a small camera, she documents walls, fences, and barbwire while moving in space, like “dancing” with the architectural element. In the meantime, I see people staring at her, trying to understand what’s going on. To make it more of a funny scene, I start stretching out in the middle of the sidewalk, head down, since my body feels heavy and achy. Soon after, I suddenly lost Tamara, again. Later, she comes out of a parking garage and tells me to go inside to drink coffee with the owner. The woman working at the garage, we think she’s the owner, was very sweet; she told us she has had the business for over a decade. It consisted of a big warehouse, at that time almost empty, with a small office space by the entrance. She served the last bit of coffee in her thermos in two plastic cups.

I found a silkscreened image of a black woman on a construction fence made out of patches of wood panels worn out by time. Why is this portrait placed in front of a construction site? I noticed an intercom, protected with a metal grid and a lock, even though it did not seem to be very expensive.   It seems like everything is protected around here. I noticed a few new types of mailboxes, which seem to be becoming a theme among the photos I have made. I’d never seen built-in mailboxes before! Are they perhaps a Brazilian invention: the built-in mailbox typology?

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Although this seemed to be a very nice neighborhood, with lots of old and well preserved beautiful houses, I could not help feeling infinite tediousness, which seems to translate well in this post. I can’t think of any interesting highlight happening during our field trip. I kept thinking; “there are so many electrified fences I can photograph. Now, fences are definitely not as interesting as the first ones I encountered.” Does this mean anything? Does my work lose its value as I lose motivation? Why am I feeling this way? Is it that I am getting used to this city? Is Belo Horizonte a [not-so-new-anymore] “new place” to me? Why do I lose my ability to be surprised over time? Or perhaps it was a matter of too many planes and not enough sleep; tomorrow might be a bright day again!

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