Today Banksy put up on his Instagram the message, “Today’s art has been cancelled due to policy activity.” A commenter on Banksy’s Instagram wrote, “Friend at 79th precinct said they nabbed banksy and 2 helpers in the act this morning around 6:00 a.m. They have them on video at another location too.” As reported by the NY Post and other outlets over the last week, the NYPD has been “on the hunt” for Banksy. [Update: Banksy has NOT been arrested, as confirmed by NYPD in a phone call with Gothamist's Jen Carlson]
This all just reminded us of the fact that in Brazil, street art is LEGAL. In fact, the legalization of graffiti has spurred a real renaissance for street art in cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo where there is a strong distinction made between tagging, known as pichação, and grafite, a street art style distinctive to Brazil.
The incredible street art duo Haas & Haan of Favela Painting and Philly Painting are headed back to to Rio de Janeiro, where they first made their mark with the colorful neighborhood sized mural (above) in the Santa Marta favela. This time however, they want to paint an entire hillside.
Kingsbridge in the Bronx is known for its staircases, some with up to 160 steps. These “step streets” are also home to some wonderful street art. This photo is from the Untapped Cities Photo Pool by Instgrammer Kassaundra. It reminds us a little of the staircase paintings in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro by the team from Favela Painting and Philly Painting.
The floats of the Rio Carnaval are one of the main spectacles that take over the city, in tandem with sparkling costumes, live music and samba dancing. The Rio festival is one of several carnavals that Gia Wolff, a Brooklyn architect and designer, will be researching via a Wheelwright Prize offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her winning proposal Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats intends to investigate the tradition of carnaval parade floats and the performances of local communities in cities like Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Goa (India), Viarreggio (Italy), Nice (France) and Santa Cruze de Tenerife (Spain).
Although the name can be confusing, Santa Teresa is not a Brazilian divinity or a religious figure. Santa, as it is known locally, is a historical neighborhood located on top of a hill and offering some splendid views of the city of Rio de Janeiro, a true escape from the beach. The nicest way to reach it is via Lapa and the famous Selarón stairway, 215 steps decorated with regularly-changing mosaics, created by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón. For over a century, you could use the “bonde elétrico” (tramway) from the Centro, with a ride crossing the Lapa Arches, but the service was suspended in August 2011 for safety reasons after a fatal accident. (more…)
By now, you might be used to seeing abandoned theme parks set in barren, post-apocalyptic landscapes in China. But this one’s different. Not only is it set in Rio de Janeiro, it’s also right smack in the middle of Barra da Tijuca, one of city’s most valuable real estate zones. And, it’s not far from the future 2016 Olympic games. The Barra zone will accomodate 20 Olympic competitions and the Olympic Village, roughly half the athletes will compete here.
Barra da Tijuca is a fascinating study of contrasts: beautiful white sand beaches, inland lagoons and mountain backdrops on one hand; a pattern of gated communities, high rise condos and shopping malls on the other hand. Planned by Lucio Costa in 1969 with wide avenues and open spaces, Barra da Tijuca has turned its back on the utopian ideals of its founding and has allowed its urban form to be dictated by developer demands. The transformation of Rio de Janeiro for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics have only put more pressure on Barra to provide what Rio de Janeiro cannot in terms of space.
Terra Encantada (“Enchanted Land”) sits in the middle of this contested space. Opened in 1998, the park closed after a 61-year old woman was killed after being thrown from a ride and an investigation uncovered multiple engineering and maintenance failures. Terra Encantada has sat empty since, apart from being used for the set of a Brazilian soap opera.
On a trip to study the legalization of street art in Rio de Janeiro, I was able to visit the abandoned amusement park. It is a real explorer’s delight, replete with a Main Street, a replica of the Pompidou Center in Paris, and gloriously decaying edifices:
The major rollercoaster at Terra Encantada
We climbed up, but it was much steeper than it appears
Part of the Main Street
The Pompidou Centre replica
Inside one of the abandoned storefronts
It is doubtful that Terra Encantada will remain in this form for long, as real estate pressures increase in the area and the “cleaning” of Rio continues in preparation for the upcoming global sporting events. According to a source, the developer plans to build hotels, hospitals and residential buildings. Until then, this remnant of a past Barra da Tijuca will stand incongruously amidst the new construction for the Olympic Games.