Ali members: east in Tiradentes City. Photo: Ding Musa

Since its gestation, about a year and a half ago, until the beginning of 2020, the ali (itinerant free art) rarely worked within what its members might call a “comfort zone”. On the contrary, this kind of nomadic art school, conceived and coordinated by nine visual artists and a social scientist, seems to have already emerged to deal with adversity – “in the aftermath of the 2018 elections” – and has sought in the difficulties of everyday life. the answers to the many questions that arise in its performance.

Even so, whether dealing with difficulties in collective decision-making – in a group of consolidated artists used to working individually –, when trying to articulate ways to raise financial resources or, mainly, when trying to establish genuine bonds with residents and collectives of the peripheral Cidade Tiradentes – the first region chosen by the group to act –, the ali already reaps important fruits of its work. And you can also better understand the territory you are stepping on to plan your next steps.

The idea of ​​creating a free art school with a presence in less affluent areas of the city, stimulating cultural and economic flows between center and periphery, was consolidated after the electoral defeat of PT Fernando Haddad to current president Jair Bolsonaro, in November 2018. “We were already mobilized because of the elections, we could already see the dismantling of many things in the cultural area and, in the militancy process, we had already thought a lot about this lack of integration between social realities. That is, between us from the middle and upper middle classes with the people from the periphery”, says the artist Bruno Dunley.

Part of the members of Ali in Tiradentes City. Photo: Ding Musa

Alongside them, they also integrate the ali artists Ana Prata, André Komatsu, Ding Musa, Lucia Koch, Renata Lucas, Rodrigo Andrade, Sara Ramo and Wagner Morales, in addition to social scientist Gustavo Vidigal. “We started to get together when we saw this whole dark scenario taking place, even before the elections, but when the dismantling had already started after the 2016 coup”, says Komatsu. At that time, among the 10 members of the ali some already militated in the Jararaca political group, while others were involved in the 9 de Julho Occupation.

"And the ali it really arises because we have this understanding that art is a political manifestation. And I'm not talking about a pamphlet art, but in relation to creation, to thinking”, completes Komatsu. With the idea of ​​forming an open and traveling art school, the members started to hold weekly meetings to discuss possible formats. From the beginning, they defined two main guidelines for the project: it would be related to training – whether practical or theoretical – linked not only to art, but also to philosophy, Brazilian history and the collective construction of knowledge; and would also be focused on the formation of cultural networks, with work that sought dialogue and exchange with other groups.

“In this sense, we always thought of the project as a bridge that could facilitate circulation and mobility. A bridge that could go from the center to the periphery and from the periphery to the center”, says Dunley, who explains that the itinerancy plans of the ali can still cover, over the years, the five areas of the city. The proposal to start work in Cidade Tiradentes (CT) came from Sara Ramo, who had already worked there (in the production of the short film “Lança”) and knew collectives and young people in the region.

Renata Lucas class at Bar do Tiê. Photograph. Porto moon

“Because the idea was to create a project that would leave our bubble, the commercial center, and go to more distant places”, says Komatsu. In this case, a place was chosen where even the far-right candidate won the elections, despite the history of progressive struggles in the region. As the artist points out, the formation of ali it also started from an attempt to understand and act in this new Brazilian political context.

Located in the extreme east of São Paulo and with almost 300 thousand inhabitants, CT is a district of the capital that was occupied mainly after the 1980s and that brings together the largest complex of housing projects in Latin America. In this vast and diverse universe, despite the notable absence of the State, dozens of groups and collectives of poetry, slam, graffiti, theater, music and other artistic areas are organized – such as Pombas Urbanas, Red7, Luau Raiz Quadrado, Aliança Negra, Filhas da Dita and Instituto du Gueto –, with activities inside and sometimes outside their own territory.

“They know they have great power there. Just as we know that the decentralized Brazilian culture, which emerged in the peripheries in general, is perhaps what is strongest in the country today”, says Dunley. “And this cultural wealth that doesn't need us, they don't depend on us getting there and saying they want to exchange an idea. So we thought a lot about it over the months of how we could act. Because, at the same time, we think we have something to offer. So we want to teach and learn, exchange, do together.”

Two-way street

Also aware of the long history of unfulfilled promises that accompanies life on the urban peripheries - whether by politicians, public authorities, private organizations or individuals - members of the ali understood that the group's biggest challenge would be in establishing an organic and fruitful dialogue with residents and collectives of the CT, seeking to move away from a colonizing model of action. “We are white, upper class, and we live downtown. And there are many projects that arrive in the peripheries dictating rules, with a supposed superiority of those who have information and money”, says Komatsu. “Our idea was always different.”

Intervention by Rodrigo Andrade in Cidade Tiradentes. Photo: Samantha Lucas

After a long period of meetings and an intense process of approximation with the CT – facilitated by the work of Antonio Guerra –, the first courses at the ali : east began to be offered in mid-2019 in different spaces in the neighborhood, from bars and squares to the Cidade Tiradentes Cultural Training Center (linked to the City Hall and with which the ali establish specific partnerships). A course focused on urban issues and the use of public space was given by Renata Lucas, while another on art history, drawing and painting was led by Dunley, Rodrigo Andrade and Ana Prata.

It was more or less in this period, starting in August, that the ali started to raise its first funds through the sale of small boxes with works of art – nine multiples in each, one produced by each artist –, through a partnership made with carbon gallery, which continues to commercialize the works. The BRL 180 raised so far made it possible to hire some support services, pay subsistence allowances for artists and partners, offer snacks to course students and hold a “meeting” and a “meeting”. , as the half-yearly activities that bring together groups and residents for debates, conversations, shows and other presentations were called.

For 2020, in addition to new courses and meetings, the “Sábado Ali” project will take to the CT, weekly, invited to teach classes and participate in conversations with different formats and themes - the participants were designed by ali from the demands of the community itself. Names such as Lenora de Barros, Noemi Jaffe, João Bandeira and Tiago Mesquita will participate in these events that will be held on Saturdays at the Training Center.

Artists cook during the “encontrinho” at Boteco da Sinuca, in CT. Photo: Samantha Lucas

Among the courses, are one on visual poetry, an open studio, one on rap history and video clip production, one on art history and drawing, one on the intersection between photography and architecture and one on contemporary art formats. Some of them will be taught not only by members of the ali, but in partnership with guest professors, from abroad or local – such as Evandro César, Lucas Lins and graffiti artist Link (aka MUSEU), from Luau dos Loucos. THE there: east will also initiate a scholarship program to be financed by supporters and future associates.

If the results of this more than one year of existence of the ali Although they may sound numerically shy, in terms of the number of people attending courses and meetings (according to the artists themselves), they have proved to be remarkable in the networks created for the consolidation and continuity of the project. This became clear, for example, when the group started being called to meetings of collectives in the region: “We feel that they are trusting, seeing that the work is consistent and that we are really there. It was a project victory,” says Dunley.

The trajectory has also made it clear that the initial plan to remain in the CT for two years and then move on to another region must be rethought. “It will be at least four years, even to create bases for the project to continue working afterwards”. Another finding, reinforced by recent events in the country, is that a project like ali it will continue to exist as resistance, outside any “comfort zone”, as Komatsu concludes: “We are in a scenario where the government sees every social and cultural movement as an enemy and tries to prevent any manifestation of reflection. The idea is to create soldiers, create a basic unit, establish order, and not create diversity, reflections, divergences, problems. And we, in the opposite direction, believe that art is a way of reflecting and being critical of the surroundings”.

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