I still didn’t get to see the Capivara

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The day is wide open after yoga, I can either go to Pampulha and see if I can locate Capivara, bring them some bananas and set up the gopro, or I can continue on with the studio work and take a break going to the market or somewhere else. I’m going to see how I feel after yoga.

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It feels really good to be catching up and taking care of things.

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Though I still didn’t get to see the Capivara…

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Monday, August 18, 2014

It’s another beautiful morning and I woke up feeling really great! I resisted the urge to check the internet on my phone, to be fully present in this moment of waking up.

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Steffania’s back and I’m thinking it may be time to pack up for the day and also pick up some beer/wine as she’s planning some kind of dinner with folks at home.

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This was such a great night with Steffania, Larissa, Morgana and her friend. Steffania made delicious typical dishes from Minas (video of Carne na Latta) and we all had a wonderful time hanging out.

[Carne na Lata]

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Kitchen dance

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I started digesting virtual media almost immediately after I woke up. There’s something about the vastness of it, and the fact that it’s constantly changing that keeps pulling at my attention way beyond useful information or meaningful connections. It becomes a background hum of data and my eyes glaze over and hands become numb but there’s one more app to double check, yet again. It’s the same addiction as computer solitaire, playing beyond the point of concentration and then the frustration of losing fueling another round. It’s really quite awful, and numbs the senses and sensitivity to surroundings.

This is an especially stark contrast for me right now, since while Pilar’s away this week I’ve been staying in the bedroom with internet, as opposed to the small bed in the living room without internet. The internet connection is still there in the hallway but I don’t linger. This seems like a more healthy approach. It’s an interesting context that’s given me a chance to consider my relationship with the internet and how it makes me feel. The part that I do like is real connections with the people I love, to feel closer to them even at such a geographical distance. That is really nice and helps to maintain my connection with home.

The other thing that I’m realizing is that I’m better off saving my clicks for my actual work rather than wasting all of my clicking energy on silly stuff.

[Kitchen Dance]

Day 4 : Impulso, Fluxo e Vibração

It’s funny to think that I went through this whole effort and rushed to take a shower and wash my hair and then I proceeded to writhe around on the dirty floor of the dance studio, practically using my hair as a mop.

My take-away from today is: standing still outside (remembering the perception exercise from last year of focusing on one point but being aware of what’s happening all around you) and realizing this is an exercise I can practice with the gopro.

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On/Off

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It’s nice to have a lazy morning. I’m realizing that I am spending much more time online while being based in this room. It’s good for ease of Skype communication, and I think it’ll be good for blog updates today and tomorrow but I’m sure I end up wasting much more time checking stupid things, which does interrupt my focus and thought processes.

Day 3 : Impulso, Fluxo e Vibração

I returned form the workshop quite tired and drained and my body is actually quite sore, I guess from these workshops over the past few days.

The two big things I got out of today’s workshop was:

  1. the surfing analogy of relaxing into things. The ocean/wave can swallow you, if you let it. Straining your body to overcome the wave also won;t yield any results. The surfer needs to become one with the wave.
  2. The connection with the center.

My whole body is sore and I can only imagine it’s from the intensity of visualizing the energy from my center and really articulating every inch of my body from the inside out – it’s really rather remarkable!

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Our Lady of the Assumption

Friday, August 15, 2014

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Assumption, a holiday in Belo Horizonte. As I walked back home from the workshop last night (with Joicinele, a young woman from the workshop) the streets were full of people hanging out in the street and partying. Today the city is quiet and these same streets are desolate.

Wow, just getting to the studio now at 11:45 and it’s already been a really intense morning from the first couple of steps out of the door. It all started with a guy on the street setting up cans on the ledge of the building. I look quickly and notice he’s turning the cans into little tea pot sculptures. I ask if he made them and if he’s always here. He tells me God brought him here right now so that he could meet me and we could have this conversation. We speak for quite a while.

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The streets are empty since it was a holiday. He has an ongoing dialogue with everyone who passes by, mostly folks who seem to be living/sleeping on the streets, like one man with a blanket tucked into the top of his backpack. Another man, with half of his face covered in tattoos, comes by to talk with us. At first he asks Wilson to hold his backpack, to which he quickly replies that an artist must take care of his tools. The guy starts making me a ring out of metal wire and then asks if I prefer a picture frame or a key ring. He continues bending and twisting the wire, as he tells me he’s been living on the streets for the past eleven years. At one point he says he will make this and then I will never see him again. He is a nice and friendly soul but he seems high on something. I am surprised that I can follow most of what he’s saying. He gives me the picture frame and I ask if we can all take a picture together, to put in the frame.

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Day 2 : Impulso, Fluxo e Vibração

I wish I could remember all of the things that struck me from the workshop yesterday. As Carla said, four days isn’t enough time to learn about Impulso, Fluxo e Vibração but it’s enough to get a taste. I’m trying to figure this out just like everybody else…I’m not sure I necessarily need to request to film at the moment (I worry it may take me out of the experience of the moment, but am open to the possibility on Sat or Sun.)

This was another intense workshop today. I partnered with Joicinele in the exercises & we both had quite intense experiences in giving and receiving.

Carla Andrea Silva Lima – www.carlanormagna.blogspot.com

 

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Day 1 : Impulso, Fluxo e Vibração

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What a great and full day here. I spent a lot of time talking with Daniella and hanging out with Steffania. Pilar was preparing for her trip and I basically had a studio day for scanning etc…

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My well-worn map of Bello Horizonte.

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Documenting the selfie.

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Picking up my little friend from school.

After 5 I left the studio with Dani to pick up Joa at school – he’s such a sweetheart and even remembered my name. Joanna met us there and took me shopping for groceries, also such a sweetheart. I’m really lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people! From there, I dropped off the food and raced out for the workshop.

Day 1 : Impulso, Fluxo e Vibração

I got there quite late (despite taking a cab) and jumped right in to introductions. The teacher was quite intense, and I managed to understand the majority of what she was saying in Portuguese, losing a few words here and there. She spoke about the distinction between action and movement; the danger of terminology and naming things as simplifying much larger and more complex concepts. She referenced a Japanese teacher, studying with Grotowski, internal and external body, my body, your body, why is this possessive? There were so many ideas there, now I wish I had recorded at least audio.

It’s some very far out stuff but I really got into it. At the very end we did exercises in pairs that involved one person laying down and the other helping to radiate energy and vibrations using both hands through the partners core chakra and solar plexus. It was quite a remarkable experience and then at the end we did a number of exercises involving the whole group standing in a circle holding hands feeling the vibrations and moving our arms together applying pressure, lifting arms and then pressing with all of our strength. Then we stood in a circle giving each other shoulder massages, ending with everyone sitting on each others lap simultaneously. I enjoyed the experience tremendously and am really excited to continue tomorrow! It’s amazing how this all came together, for me to find out about it and participate.

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Lobby Construction & Street Vendor

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I got up just before 8 am, folded my laundry and now am drinking lime water pondering my next move, which will likely be: shower, breakfast, studio. It looks like another beautiful day and I’m very excited to have the full day in the studio.

The courtyard renovation at Edifício Sulamérica continues, creating a new landscape here every day.

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We’re just about at the half-way point of the residency – considering the final week will be open studio. I’ve got to get caught up with processing all of the material I’ve collected so far. This is good. A time to digest.

I’m systematically going through and filling in posts in the digital process diary since the beginning with links etc… I’m slowly creating order from chaos.

There’s an inherent bias in using a map to represent space.

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This man sells virtually everything imaginable from a mobile shop/cart that he moves slowly down the street, stopping periodically to make sales.

https://vimeo.com/110275618

 

https://vimeo.com/110179783

Post idea: classic products with simple ingredients and packaging. Sabonete Phebo Odor de Rosas soap & Albaneve Vaselina Neutra.

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Tobogã do “Contorno”

Monday, August 11, 2014
10:30 am – 2 pm
Warm and sunny

This morning, Tamara and I took a bus to the shopping mall we had visited during our last trip, “Patio Savassi.” While walking towards the intersection and approaching the shopping center, we had enough time to contemplate the building in all its plenitude. “What an ugly building,” Tamara said.  The pinkish and white stuccos with green signage, a glass pyramid on top; its scale and combination of materials and forms do not make it an appealing sight for the pedestrian – at least for us, for sure.  What was the architect thinking! In front of the shopping mall, there is a large building under construction; the steel structure signals the outline of the new building, which emerges from behind a wood fence protected with barbwire.  In the back, a dense landscape of modern buildings emerge, displaying mirror glass-covered facades, orthogonal lines, bulky volumes, and light earthy colors.

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Walking down the block, each building tries to shine over the others, without paying much attention to neighbor constructions. Some old houses are left, in-between much larger new buildings that seem to belong to a different time and landscape. It’s paradoxical that these new reflective and machine-like buildings, when directly experienced while walking the “Contorno,” feel so much decadent than the appealing forms seen in photographs. When I look at decontextualized pieces of the landscape within a frame, it becomes something else, an experiment with form, content and space. But these decontextualized images are able to reveal significant aspects of Belo Horizonte and its broader social context.  Found elements are the material traces left behind social processes; these have the ability to disclose different aspects of reality.

Once again, I documented many electrified fences, warning signs, gates, barbwire, and security cameras. How does this architecture of fear emerge in Belo Horizonte? How do these elements reproduce fear and exclusion in the city? A society that excludes large sectors of the population needs to protect itself from the “other,” that who has been excluded. As a visitor, I can’t but be surprised and captivated by the amount of resources invested in protecting/ separating the private sphere from the street and from others. In other places, people isolate themselves in walled cities, isolated enclaves of privilege and safety. Here instead, buildings and houses are still part of the street and the city, but establish safety from the public realm through the construction of electrified fences and security technologies. There are diverse security mechanisms, from homemade systems, such as broken glass on masonry walls to laser-protected glass panels. The most commonly used seem to be electrified fences running in all directions over walls, metal fences, windows, canopies, balconies, roofs, etc. I also notice a widespread use of mirror walls; one can usually seen images reflected on walls while walking, which can be a fun experience but also brings a certain atmosphere of fakeness to the built landscape.

But overall, the experience of the neighborhood is very diverse; it is possible to find many contrasted elements, uses, materials, and scales while moving along “Contorno.” Old houses are enclosed in between newer constructions. Mirror windows are combined with stone, brick, or concrete. Machine-looking or slick buildings sit side by side and the colorful flowers of the “Apí” reflect on the mirrored surfaces of buildings. Small used-clothing boutiques and a local hardware store share the street with corporate buildings and large-scale residential buildings. Despite the mostly posh character of the area, you can still find a “shitty corner bar” that sells cheap bottled cold beer and “salgados” – snacks.

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Soon after the shopping center, the “tobogã do Contorno” begins, a steep slope covering several blocks until the intersection with Av. Getúlio Vargas, where green park with big trees extends looking down the street. The use of stairs, ramps, and terraces gives more movement to the street; pedestrians sit over stairs, building entrances in front of construction sites, on the stoops of buildings, etc. One can read the close relation with architectural objects and spaces, in a more informal way. Along the way, we found several groups of people – mostly workers – momentarily taking over a public space, using sidewalks and stairs to hang out and create a temporary social spaces.

Several themes seem to emerge among my field notes and the photographs I take; a taxonomy of urban elements characteristic of this place, this time, through the eyes of a foreigner. These elements denote a certain mode of life, thinking, or undergoing social processes, but also the way Tamara and I navigate Belo Horizonte and the fortuitous things we find and observe along the way. Security fences, warning signs, decontextualized pieces of architectural objects, garbage, new and old, local/ global, informal economies, built-in wall mailboxes – and the diversity among each theme, which seem to vary across neighborhoods and time periods.

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Studio day

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

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With Graça.

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Copacabana calçada design thermos belonging to one of the guys working on the lobby construction.

It feels REALLY GOOD to be here at the studio. I got in just after 11am (yoga today) and imagine we’ll work until about 2pm or so before heading for lunch and to take the clothes out of the washing machine.

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It’s such an amazing day with yoga in the morning, a great lunch and all of this time in the studio, amazing!

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https://vimeo.com/109479477

 

What an great night with Chica and family! I’m feeling really quite relaxed right now. I’m also very excited about the full day in the studio.

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Savassi: the chic side of “Contorno”

Friday, August 8, 2014
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Hot and sunny

We had agreed to meet at 10:00 am with Pedro, a Brazilian guy who works for JA.CA helping out artists in residence, and who will transcribe some of the conversations we have recorded along our walks. We got there a bit too early and had time to hang out with the guys who wash cars at the intersection of “Contorno” and Rua São Paulo. There was an old, drunk man, holding a cup of beer while singing and mumbling. He was standing next to his “carinho,” – cart, which was loaded with cardboard. I stayed there for a while, watching the scene. Most of the cars stopping for a wash are taxis, and there is a small taxi kiosk at the corner. I noticed that that is where they take electricity for the vacuum cleaner, which looked like a small R2D2 – one of the Star Wars robots – and had an enormously long cord in order to reach the kiosk outlet. Tamara was taking photos of the kiosk’s small window while a guy poked his head out to ask her to call his “colega” – coworker, and ask him to come unlock the kiosk; he had locked himself inside the tiny space and Tamara ended up rescuing him! Later, she was video-recording the hands of one of the guys while he was washing a car, very closely, and moving around the car. She told him next time she’ll bring the waterproof camera to get in the water. Sometimes I think she might be even crazier than me! To what she responds: “It’s not a competition, baby!”

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Pedro arrived and we said good-bye to the guys and started walking. There were no big events along the journey; definitely posh neighborhoods are a lot less exciting to explore. What was most striking was the beauty of numerous, huge trees, covered with pink flowers along the street, which are named “Ipe,” according to Pedro. We saw many tall, fancy buildings. Some of them are slick and covered with glass; others illustrate the worst examples of postmodern architecture, in their attempt to emulate columns, arches, and other symbols of wealth and power, relying on a pastiche of materials, such as marble and black glass. It’s almost painful to watch the spectacle of recycled forms and the indiscriminate combination of colors and finishes. Some of these buildings become appealing just because of their excessive ugliness. I wanted to photograph more of those jewels of the 80’s and 90’s, but they all seemed to be located in the interior side of the “Contorno,” and against the sun at that time of the day.

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There was one particular building that had large areas of water and grass decorating its exterior spaces. Pedro said this is the most expensive building in Belo Horizonte, where you pay the most per square meter. Inside, there are offices and commercial spaces. In the back, you could see a large glass building with a VIVO sign on top, one of the local cellphone companies. There were many palm trees, which, together with the suburban look of the building, reminded me of Miami. On the grass, there was a sign that read “CUIDADO: Jardim Tratado com Produto Tóxico” – “BEWARE: green area treated with toxic products.” I did not know what to make of this warning; it seemed pretty awkward. Why would you use toxic materials on a green lawn? Are they trying to scare undeserving people away so they do not lie down on or step on it? Why would you want to have a nice, green lawn that you can’t really enjoy? Wealthy people have strange ideas sometimes. After proceeding with our walk, I documented endless security cameras and sign warnings on electrified fences, as well as barbwire and tall buildings under construction.

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When we reached Savassi, we needed to stop at a bathroom and Pedro suggested we could stop at shopping mall, “Patio Savassi” – “Savassi Garden.” The sanitized space inside the shopping mall felt so strikingly different to other places we have been to along the “Contorno.” Tamara said: “it feels like being in an airport.” The shopping center was not so big, for US standards, but had the same kind of elements typical of any other fancy shopping mall; mechanized stairs, a Rolex store, a sneakers store, fancy boutiques, an open cafe, etc. Everything looked so chic, compared to the stores we have previously been to along our fieldwork. “Definitely, we won’t find any good deals here” – We commented. The layout of the space, its materials, signs, and aesthetics reminded me of Rem Koolhass’ article, Generic Architecture, which refers to the standardized character of spaces of flows and consumption in a globalized world.

After our shopping mall experience, we were done for the day. We debated what to do, since it was a bit too early to have lunch and we were not feeling hungry yet. Tamara suggested; “Why don’t we go for a beer?” – To what we all seemed to agree. I pointed out to a corner bar across the street. Pedro laughed at us – “Sure! But it’s just a shitty bar!” – “It doesn’t matter! We love shitty bars!” And we sat in a small corner under a shade, in between a wall and parked cars, and shared a Bohemia. “You see? It doesn’t take much to make us happy!”

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