FAU-USP, 1961, Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi. Photo: Leonardo Finotti/Portuguese Architecture House Collection

Infinito Vai: 90 years of Brazilian Architecture, Sesc 24th of May, subverts any concept of exposition of the genre. Scenic, without being theatrical, it has a narrative centered on the hybridization of various poetics, such as music, plastic arts, literature and video, and allows the visitor to pluralize this encounter throughout their journey.

Curated by Guilherme Wisnik and Fernando Serapião, the show was already exhibited in 2019 at Casa da Arquitetura de Portugal and brings together projects by 96 architects. The temporal arrangement spans from the 1920s, marked by the 1922 Modern Art Week, to the present day, with projects by already expected names such as Oscar Niemeyer, Vilanova Artigas, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Lucio Costa and Lina Bo Bardi, who add to other lesser-known ones to tell a story of nine decades together.

Visiting the show is not an invitation, but a recommendation from Guilherme Wisnik, “because it dialogues with our reality”. An emotional dose packs infinite span by the moment of sociopolitical and cultural obscurantism that we are experiencing. The exhibition proves that architecture can represent much more than itself. At the opening of the show, Paulo Mendes da Rocha says that “architecture is a way of saying who we are and who we will be”.

The title, infinite span, comes from the lines of dragon (1982), music by Gilberto Gil: “True love is vain, it extends infinitely, immense monolith, our architecture”. In the language of the curator architects, “vain is something to be overcome, a challenge to overcome, it is to reduce the amount of supports, expand the slabs horizontally, throw yourself into the air void, opening immense light to the ground floor. In the Portuguese language it is something that did not work out, it was done in vain”.

Right at the entrance to the exhibition, the sounds of short videos with images from different decades set the tone. In addition to the selection of chosen projects, music by Caetano, Gil, Arnaldo Antunes and Racionais MC's are mixed with works by plastic artists such as Claudio Tozzi, Nelson Leirner, Rubens Gerchman, Paulo Bruscky and with brief texts by Leminski, Rem Koolhaas, Álvaro Siza , Mário Pedrosa… All together they stimulate perception and increase the pleasure of the visit.

Nelson Leirner at the Infinito Vai exhibition, at Sesc 24 de Maio. Photo: Vitor Penteado/Sesc Collection

the key of infinite span are the songs that open and contextualize each of the six nuclei in which the show is divided, in addition to the architectural projects that represent each one of them. From Guarani to Guarana (1924-1943) part of the carnival march by Lamartine Babo, history of Brazil, with the question that animates generations: “Who invented Brazil?…”. In this period, the country, as Wisnik observes, “leaps from indigenous romanticism and slavery to industrial and urban culture”. It was the moment of the Modern Art Week and of Oswald de Andrade's Manifesto Antropófago (1928), concerned with the construction of an aesthetic that included the roots of Brazil. The first modernist house in Brazil, by Gregori Warchavchik in São Paulo, stands out in the show, the initial milestone of the exhibition, passing through the Ministry of Education and Health, in Rio de Janeiro, to the Pampulha complex, in Belo Horizonte.

The Base is One (1943-1957) born of music One Note Samba, by João Gilberto, which marks the creation of bossa nova, a Rio de Janeiro movement that put Brazilian music on an international level. The period chosen by the curators ranges from Pampulha to the competition for the pilot plan for Brasília and the new cities designed in Amapá and Mato Grosso, which pave the way for Brasília.

at the core Against the Chapadãos My Nose (1957-1969), the architects were inspired by the back of the Tropicalia, music by Caetano Veloso made at a time when Brazilian music was influenced by the counterculture. Rubens Gerchman creates the The beautiful Lindoneia (portrait version), from 1967. In architecture, Niemeyer's first sketches appear before the launch of the national competition for the pilot plan for Brasília. In a text from 1970, present in the show, Clarice Lispector says that “Brasília is built on the horizon. Brasilia is artificial. As artificial as the world must have been when it was created.”
The show lights up at the core I saw a Brazil on TV (1969-1985), with the soundtrack of Bye Bye Brazil, by Chico Buarque and Roberto Menescal. It marks the period when the architects Artigas and Paulo Mendes da Rocha and other intellectuals who were exiled were exiled. Favelas multiply in São Paulo and at another social point Lina Bo Bardi transforms a drum factory into the current Sesc Pompeia and Eurico Prado Lopes and Luiz Telles design the São Paulo Cultural Center, both playful spaces for culture and coexistence. Claudius Tozzi, one of the artists who best portrayed the period of repression, paints one of his emblematic works, Crowd (1968)

Model of Praça das Artes, a project by the Brasil Arquitetura office built in downtown São Paulo. Photo: Karin Yuri

The core Whole and Not Half (1985-2001) part of the song Meal, of the Titans. “We don't just want food…”, when Brazilian rock launches bands across the country. In architecture, in contrast to the housing projects built by the dictatorship, the Favela Bairro program in Rio appears and, in São Paulo, the cooperative organizations. In the arts, two multimedia artists whose works belong to the Sesc Collection of Brazilian Art stand out: Nelson Leirner, with Untitled Work in the Sotheby's Series (1999), and Paulo Bruscky, with Linguistic Poem (1992)

close the exhibition Feeling on the sole of the foot (2001-2018), name taken from the verse of a rap by Racionais MC's, which talks about the violent daily life of big cities. That's when the CEUs - Unified Educational Centers, created by the city of São Paulo, in the government of Marta Suplicy, also appeared. A video brings scenes of the unequal daily life that invades Brazilian cities and brings us back to the wise comment by Paulo Mendes da Rocha when he opened this exhibition: “Architecture is a way of saying who we are and who we will be”.

Parque Novo Santo Amaro, 2009, Vigliecca and Associates. Photo: Leonardo Finotti/Portuguese Architecture House Collection
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