CCSP director Erika Palomino. Photo: Disclosure

Space for welcoming, coexistence and respect between different people; stage for the most innovative, disruptive, daring and multidisciplinary artistic and cultural manifestations; democratic place, protected from censorship, with an increasing protagonism of minorities in its programming; in the current political context, a place of resistance. This is the São Paulo Cultural Center desired by journalist Erika Palomino, director of the space since February this year.

Invited to take up the position by Alê Youssef, Secretary of Culture of the Bruno Covas City Hall (PSDB), the journalist has been putting her project into practice alongside the approximately 200 space employees. The data show, in 2019, an increase of about 30% in the public served by the CCSP compared to the same period in 2018, which seems to signal that the guidelines are being well received. “In any case, we are more concerned with presenting quality, modern and innovative programming than with increasing the audience even more”, she says.

Knowing that his permanence in office is linked to a specific municipal management - which may or may not be renewed in the 2020 elections -, Palomino says he is in a hurry to carry out as many projects as possible, in addition to promoting initiatives with lasting impact such as increasing collections. (books or works of art), the consolidation of the work of the new curators (Fashion, Performance and the “reactivated” Dance), the maintenance of public notices and even the renovation of the bathrooms.

“Our focus from the beginning has been the production and dissemination of critical knowledge. So what we wanted was to have more black and black artists, trans people, value diversity and representation, have more women on the team and on stage,” she says. “Themes that could be controversial in other places, for us are not, they are part of our daily lives”, he adds, noting that the CCSP will host this October the show by the company A Motosserra Perfumada, which was censored by FUNARTE.

Designed by Eurico Prado Lopes Luiz Telles in the 1970s and inaugurated in 1982, the CCSP continues to renew its audience and attract a large number of young people and teenagers. The space houses, until December, the 12a edition of the Architecture Biennale and prepares an intense multidisciplinary program for next year, when it hosts one of the 34tha São Paulo Biennial. Through its association of friends (AACCSP), it also intends to raise funds with incentive laws to expand its activities.

Read the full interview with Palomino, held in his room at Centro Cultural São Paulo:

ARTE!Brasileiros – You now complete eight months ahead of the CCSP. I would like to start by asking how you rate this period of work.
Erika Palomino – These months passed very quickly, because things here happen with great intensity. There are millions of challenges, some I expected, some not. There are two hundred employees, 46.500 square meters… So, even though I already knew the CCSP, coming here as a director and having the dimension of the complexity and size of the operation was, without a doubt, a little intimidating. But from the beginning I had the support of the Secretary of Culture (Alê Youssef) and the support of the Secretary, in the sense that I would have all the tools, information and teams supporting me, even because I had no previous experience in public administration. And in relation to implementing a curatorial project and rescuing the CCSP's vocation of being a relevant space for the most innovative, disruptive and daring artistic and cultural manifestations - which is our project -, I was sure I would be able to do that. Especially with regard to diversity, representation, which are themes that have remained present throughout my 30-year trajectory as a journalist. So I was given autonomy to compose a curatorial body that could reflect, in various artistic areas, everything that is happening in the world, in Brazil, in São Paulo… This reception was essential for me to implement a new project for the CCSP.

Internal space of the CCSP. Photo: Sosô Parma

Were there many changes in the team?
No, as little as possible. I brought three new curatorships: Fashion, with Karlla Girotto, Performance, with Mauricio Ianês, and we resumed the Dance curatorship, with Sônia Sobral. These were added to the already existing curatorships of Music, Cinema, Theater, Children's Theater, Literature, Visual Arts – now with Hélio Menezes alongside Adelaide Pontes –, Libraries and Cultural Action. And Jurandy Valença joined as assistant director, because I don't like to do things alone, I think this exchange is fundamental. Finally, I also brought in Rodolfo Beltrão to supervise Curatorships.

In a text published in FSP in June of this year you stated that the CCSP was, until recently, experiencing a certain lethargy, an identity crisis. I would like you to explain a little bit what you mean by that and what are the guidelines adopted to combat this situation.
I felt that some attention was lacking with the CCSP, which is an extraordinary piece of equipment, very powerful. And I felt, when I joined, that things were a little on automatic, with the curators having little dialogue with each other, with the programmers not knowing exactly how much they could spend. We established, for example, the idea of ​​having the curatorships act in a complementary and transversal way, which would be natural even because of the multidisciplinary vocation of the CCSP, but it didn't always happen. And now we are creating this collaborative environment, with the curators talking to each other, exchanging ideas and sometimes putting together budgets to make one project or another viable. And this all has to do with the Secretariat's own guidelines, since Alê Youssef, since he appointed me as director, highlighted the objective of rescuing this vanguard, innovative and experimental vocation of the CCSP, in the sense of being the equipment of the Secretariat which has this mission to promote the most daring and unexpected languages, always at affordable prices or free of charge.

Regarding this identity crisis, a lot of people criticized me for saying that, as if I was badmouthing the previous directors. And it wasn't, in fact, in relation to that, because everyone knows what management wants to do, what project they want to implement. What I said was more in the sense of giving a new direction, giving a “shake” of energy that I even felt that the team wanted. And our focus from the beginning has been the production and dissemination of critical knowledge. So what we wanted was to have more black and black artists, trans people, value diversity and representation, have more women on the team, on stage... the day of curatorship, not only in sporadic moments such as “the month of women”, for example. And that means a desire to transform the CCSP into a place of reception and resistance for the population and the artistic class. So this is our project, so that this is a modern and relevant place for the city.

This issue of multidisciplinarity, of mixing languages, is currently very present in the cultural debate, in the practice of artists. And the CCSP, as the first multidisciplinary cultural center in the city, is somehow a pioneer in this sense. Anyway, I would like you to talk a little more about this idea of ​​working with curators in a multidisciplinary way, especially in a place that has this in its DNA, in its roots.
Yes, the CCSP was created to be a multidisciplinary center, from the beginning, but now it is different, because the thing is transversal. So this idea of ​​us having curators who complement each other and dialogue makes the boundaries of programming very blurred. So one thing is no longer just dance, just theater, just performance or just literature. We shake these boundaries that divide the areas, encourage people here to talk to each other to create projects together. A good example is Terça Crespa, a project that is a combination of literature, theater and dance, which was made possible by combining funds from different curators. And next year it will be even more powerful, because it is an extraordinary project for the production of debates and critical knowledge in relation to the production of black artists. So these hybrid projects are extremely rich and interesting, and I think that's the contemporary way of thinking.

The Sérgio Milliet Library, at CCSP. Photo: John Mussolin

In addition to programming, shows, there are other works at CCSP that sometimes few people know about: public notices, collections, memory nucleus… How has your work been with these axes?
Yes, the CCSP is very big, I myself didn't know about many things that happen here. The collections, for example, will be an important focus of our work next year. The CCSP takes care of some collections, including the City Art Collection, from which some works that are already on display here, such as those by Leda Catunda and Lenora de Barros, come from. And one of the first exhibitions we are going to do at the beginning of next year is a clipping of this collection, which is from the city, is from the population. The other collection that is very special is the Discoteca Oneyda Alvarenga, which will be 85 years old next year and we will also pay special attention. And there are the activities that take place on the 23 de Maio Floor, the Folhetaria, the graphic arts studio, the Yoga classes, which take place in the garden. There is a very important public notice, which is the Exhibition Program, which revealed a lot of artists over time and that next year it will celebrate 30 years. So in 2020 we are going to do a retrospective show with 30 of these artists, showing the importance of this public notice that revealed people like Sandra Cinto, Jonathas de Andrade, among others.

in the text in Sheet you also talk about “tinting the CCSP program with the most urgent issues on the country's agenda”. What kinds of questions are these? And how is work going in such a troubled political moment in the country?
For me, the invitation to be here reflects very much the possibility of effectively doing something for art and culture at this moment in which we are living. This possibility of being at the CCSP, especially with this guidance received from the secretary to value the artist, artistic production, freedom of expression, freedom to be, this is very important for me and made me change a lot of my life to be here . Now, the building we are in is very political and was architecturally designed, during the dictatorship, with this vocation to ensure that here it was a space for reception and resistance. Today, I have also seen our ability to react quickly to things that happen. So, for example, we will now receive the show by the company A Motosserra Perfumada, which was censored. And it was a text from the company that was already an alternate for our Public Notice for Dramaturgy in Small Scenic Formats. So being able to host this show is very important for us, as well as others with themes that in other places could be controversial, but for us they are not, they are part of our daily lives.

Thinking in this environment of threats to art and culture, led mainly by the federal government, which has created not only financial obstacles, but also these cases of persecution and censorship, the idea is that the CCSP will establish itself as a kind of space of resistance?
I think that, yes, both the public and the artistic class realized that we are here, and that here there is this protection, this freedom, this acceptance and this resistance. And I feel that the space is vibrating, that there is an energy. For example, this year we hosted the Latinidades Festival, which had run out of place to be held, and it was beautiful. Festival Agora é que São Elas also took place here, Tuesday Crespa, Virada da Cena Trans, among others.

Open Yoga class on the CCSP roof. Photo: Disclosure

Returning to this question of the building, the 12a São Paulo Architecture Biennale, which is partly exhibited here at CCSP, is entitled “Todo Dia” and discusses the idea of ​​everyday life in contemporary architecture. It seems very coherent to talk about everyday life precisely in this space, which is geared not only to the punctual holding of great shows and events, but also to people's day-to-day practices. Does it make sense to think so? How do you see this idea of ​​“everyday” in your work at CCSP?
People feel really free here. There are people who joke that the CCSP is the biggest space for coworking from Brazil, because it has great wi-fi, people come to work and study. And here is an amazing place for you to open your computer, charge your cell phone, walk, kiss, read, hang around, bring your stereo, dance. Because people feel safe, in every way. And for us, the team, working in this place is a unique experience, because within this architectural space you feel this freedom, you feel this protection. The architecture defines the spirit of everything that happens here, from programming to how people behave here. The different tribes that inhabit here, the genres, the bodies that dance, they created their own geographies in space, which is a great exercise in coexistence and shows that it is possible for people to understand and respect each other. And working here and being able to see people living their lives, doing what they want to do, that's very beautiful, inspiring.

Finally, thinking about the planning of the work, its management at CCSP is linked to the management of a City Hall that may or may not remain, depending on the result of the 2020 elections. How is the planning of the work in this sense, knowing that it may be interrupted shortly more than a year?
We are in a great hurry to get things done, because we deal with this temporality in a very concrete way. So we want to try to do everything we can do best in this period. And we are very careful to protect things that we consider important, such as public notices, and projects that we brought back, such as Peripatumen, which is a Philosophy project for children. And the Fashion and Dance curatorships themselves, we want them to be so consolidated and absorbed by the population that they can remain regardless of who is directing here. And we also want to take the opportunity that we're here to do things that stay, like improving the Library, renovating the bathrooms, discussing the collections. If we are not going to be able to accomplish everything by the end of next year, we want to be able to raise discussions that remain afterward.

1 comment

  1. The direction of CCSP , by journalist Erika Palomino is, without a doubt, a merit in the cultural life of São Paulo.
    Palomino brings with it a contemporary cultural background, with a first-rate journalistic background.

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