Interventionist collectives, urban movements and anti-racism in São Paulo — From the politics of representation to the politics of subjectivation

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Wednesday — 06.05.13 — Interventionist collectives, urban movements and anti-racism in São Paulo — From the politics of representation to the politics of subjectivation

0. About Wednesday Night
1 On gentrification, homeless workers’ movements and art in São Paulo
2. Related reading and links

0. About Wednesday Night

What: Presentation, video screening and discussion
When: Wednesday June 5th 7:00pm
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
Who: Free and open to all

Interventionist collectives, urban movements and anti-racism in São Paulo: From the politics of representation to the politics of subjectivation

A talk with Felipe Brait from Frente 3 de Fevereiro (São Paulo)
A discussion will follow with Jennifer Flores Sternad, Fran Ilich, and everyone who comes.

This Wednesday night Felipe Brait will speak about his work since 2005 with social art and interventionist collectives in São Paulo, Brazil. Brait is an independent researcher and cultural producer, a poet and activist whose work deals with collective art practices and urban space. He will discuss a network of collectives of which he is part whose practices were deeply shaped by their sustained involvement with the struggles of a homeless workers’ movement and its occupation of an abandoned skyscraper in downtown São Paulo.

Brait will also speak about his work with Frente 3 de Fevereiro, a transdisciplinary research, art and direct action group whose work is concerned with racism in Brazilian society. He will present part of the group’s video Zumbi Somos Nós [We are Zumbi], (with English subtitles). It brings together footage of some of Frente’s major interventions (e.g. “flash kidnappings” of television media) and live performances with their research dealing with state violence, race, and the imprint of Brazil’s colonial order on racist ideologies and practices in the present.

Brait’s presentation will open up into a collective discussion. We hope to discuss questions related to cultural work in struggles for justice; processes of subjectivation fomented by collective practices and movement cultures; cultural producers’ resistance to and complicity with gentrification; questions of racism, coloniality and state violence; and how cultural producers and movements may be differentially positioned vis-à-vis state projects (including purportedly progressive ones).

1. On gentrification, homeless workers’ movements, and art in São Paulo

When São Paulo’s historic core was targeted for gentrification in the 2000s (after decades of disinvestment), the local state moved to displace the poor and mostly Black population living there. By re-establishing the property rights of long-absent building owners the state criminalized squatters in order to facilitate their forced eviction. The mass media’s representations of those targeted for removal as actual or potential criminals drew on a preoccupation with crime and security that has become embedded in popular Paulistano morality in recent decades. Thus, the expulsion of thousands of people from their homes — a violent effort carried out by the military police — was presented in a racist script typical of neoliberal “urban renewal” efforts: as progress in “cleaning up” a degraded and stigmatized area of the city to make it available for civic use (including art and cultural events that appealed to a growing middle class).

At this time, the Prestes Maia building in downtown São Paulo was considered the largest vertical squat in Latin America, housing over 2,500 people. It had been occupied and organized by the Movimento Sem Teto do Centro [downtown homeless movement], a housing rights movement that demands low-income public housing solutions and the improvement of infrastructure in the city’s outlying regions. When the community in Prestes Maia faced imminent eviction in 2005, scores of artists and media activists came to work in solidarity with the movement and the workers and children living in Prestes Maia. Brait will talk about this experience and its formative impact on the community of artists and other cultural producers of which he is part. He will also talk about the reflections among these cultural producers that have developed in more recent years, as their modes of collective practice have changed and they have had to negotiate their work’s valorization in more official cultural circuits.

2. Related texts and links

In Portuguese:

Frente 3 de Fevereiro: www.frente3defevereiro.com.br

Cartography “Mundo Brasil”: http://issuu.com/invisiveisproducoes/docs/mundo_brasil_brasil_mundo

Martha Rosler’s essays (in English):

16 Beaver Group
16 Beaver Street, 4th fl.
New York, NY 10004

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