Today is November 26th, and I realize that this post was written on November 1st. I have fallen behind on blog posts as there has been so much going on, and little time to process. Yet the posts I have received from Dinho are full and giving, and illuminate the feelings brought by many of the experiences that we have been having. This post touches on a workshop we did about the potential that art has to transform. In São João do Cabrito there is a central bus stop where the local police station used to be. Today the police station is simply an abandoned building, often used as a canvas for graffiti and street art.
In the recent weeks someone chose to draw out swastikas on the abandoned walls. Along with these images, “NO GAY” was written out in bold red paint. We decided to ask local artist Perinho Santana to help us in an artistic intervention to cover these symbols and hateful words. With a few cans of paint, and 12 student helpers, Perinho painted a mural, writing “Paz Plataforma” over signs of hate and discrimination.
When we arrived at the wall, I asked the students if they knew what the symbol drawn in red meant. Most looked at me and said they didn’t know. Dinho and I took turns explaining what these words and symbols meant and then turned the workshop over to Perinho. When Perinho cleared the floor for the students to begin painting, I watched as one student took a paint brush, dipped it into indigo blue paint, and dragged it right over the glistening red “NO GAY”. He simply covered it with the color, ran over to me and asked me to look, “Olha professora! Eu cubri com a tinta azul!” (Look teacher! I covered it with the blue paint!).
His reaction was clear and decisive. He heard us tell him that the image represented hate, that the words “NO GAY” excluded a group of people simply because of their personal preferences; if that’s what these images represent, then they should not be shown, and so he took the initiative to make it so. The students covered the walls with colors and drawings of their choosing, signed their names and painted their hands and printed them against the concrete.
The next day, a local went up to one of the adults who was helping us run the workshop and asked, “so you’re one of the people responsible for that mess on the police station?”. I feel it is important to mention that the adult being asked this question is a strong character in the neighborhood who will be hosting Miss Subúrbio, a drag show at the cultural center on December 2nd. He speaks up strongly for the gay population in the periphery, as he has dealt with this kind of discrimination for years. His answer to this question was: “When someone takes a red paint brush and draws signs of hate, and homophobic words on our police station, everyone sits back and says nothing. But when the local youth in the neighborhood stand up for what’s right, explore their creativity and bring light to the neighborhood, you call it a ‘mess’?” He finished off his statement with a bold and fabulous, “Oxe, me deixe!” (something akin to “I can’t even“).
A few weeks ago, Dinho wrote a post that commented on how much easier it is to give a child a gun over giving a child an opportunity to transform violence. It is easier to complain about what lacks and what seems to threaten us. It is easier to sit back and allow for fear to manifest in words of hate, than to engage and seek change. This workshop exemplified what it means to stop waiting for officials and politicians to manifest and “fix” what seems broken; with paint brushes and good intentions, 11 students took responsibility into their own hands, and did it themselves.
Thank you to Dinho and Vilma, to Perinho and Fabrício and to the community that stood by in support!
Here is Dinho’s take on the intervention…
Beleza do Subúrbio: uma intervenção artística com Perinho Santana
Hoje, dia 1º de novembro de 2013, a oficina com a Turma São João foi sobre a arte e os processos criativos e contamos com a participação do artista plástico e poeta Perinho Santana, além de Fabrício Cumming e Vilma Santos.
Como tarefa os participantes puderam acompanhar e fotografar o processo criativo de Perinho Santana em uma intervenção urbana no final de linha do São João do Cabrito.
Como local escolhemos o antigo módulo policial que estava repleto de referências gráficas ao nazismo e à homofobia com o símbolo da suástica nazista e a frase “no gay”.
Essas referências à violência foram apagadas a partir da intervenção da beleza e da produção artística.
Perinho falou do seu processo artístico e começou a pintura de um novo mural na parede do módulo, a partir de uma página do seu livro em muros com a frase “Paz, Plataforma”.
Enquanto isso as crianças e adolescentes e todos nós começamos também a pintar e contribuir de modo concreto com a beleza e a elaboração de uma cultura de paz.
Durante essa oficina questões importantes foram discutidas como o racismo, a violência e a intolerância que tomam conta das relações entre as pessoas.
Ver uma manifestação assim tão concreta da violência e poder lidar com ela através da intervenção com a beleza e a arte foi um momento único, no qual o sentido do nosso trabalho, mesmo com uma pequena dimensão de alcance, conseguiu produzir novos significados, mostrando outros modos de enfrentamento, pautados em uma forma de se contrapor à violência através de uma nova percepção inclusiva da humanidade e que precisamos respeitar as diferenças.
Responder às demandas, explicitar o implícito, dirimir dúvidas, gerar uma nova possibilidade de entendimento, fazer a beleza proliferar em meio à violência, gerar uma nova consciência a respeito do que somos e quem pertencemos é uma tarefa difícil, complexa, mas possível.
Obrigado a Marcella Hausen, Perinho Santana, Fabrício Cumming e Vilma Santos, adultos e pessoas que estão mudando o mundo a partir dessas ações que trazem de volta a pertença e o humano a este mundo difícil, mas possível de existir.
José Eduardo Ferreira Santos