Graffiti by the duo Os Gêmeos in honor of the album Hip-Hop Cultura de Rua, a collection released in 1988, which helped to spread the movement in the country by giving voice to pioneers such as Thaíde and DJ Hum, MC Jack and Código 13. Photo: Reproduction / Facebook

In the penultimate edition of the International Graffiti Fine Art Biennial, held in São Paulo, in January 2013, one of the guests for the series of debates promoted by the event was Paulo Mendes da Rocha, a Brazilian architect and urban planner of international prestige. Asked what he thought about graffiti, Mendes da Rocha, 84 years old at the time, said: “It seems to me to be the most passionate voice, today, in the graphic arts in general”.

Recalling that millions of years ago man already left visual evidence of his passage through the Earth in caves, the architect concluded: “The great novelty was the invasion of public space by the most popular layers of all cities in the world. So for me, save the graffiti!”.

The global diffusion of graffiti highlighted by Mendes da Rocha is a phenomenon that started in the United States in the second half of the 1970s, thanks to the emergence, in cities like New York and Los Angeles, of artistic expressions that converged to establish the three elements of Hip-Hop art. Hop: rap (acronym for “music and poetry”), composed by the DJ and the MC; the b-boys and b-girls, boys and girls who dance to the beat of rap; and the graphite itself.

Respected worldwide as a spokesperson for youth segregated in peripheral regions of large cities, the triad of languages ​​that consolidated Hip-Hop as one of the most important cultural manifestations of the 2017 finds in São Paulo in XNUMX, however, a hostile environment, thanks to the hygienist crusade decreed by the newly sworn in mayor João Dória Jr. (PSDB-SP).

When announcing the creation of the Cidade Linda program, on December 30, Dória anticipated that he would allocate zero tolerance to taggers, and also informed that he intends to develop a graffiti artist training program, called Arte Urbana, in addition to creating a “grafitodromo” in the city. .

According to Dória, the project will be coordinated by the muralist Eduardo Kobra. Known, inside and outside the country, for the multicolored portraits of great personalities superimposed by geometric themes, Kobra, however, stated that he was unaware of the initiative and that, due to a demand for 28 panels that he will produce in New York until November of this year, he will collaborate with the municipal program.

Advertising boy for Cidade Linda, Dória was spotted last Saturday (14), wearing an orange uniform and covering a graffiti on Avenida 23 de Maio, in the center of the city, with a jet of gray ink. In the operation, he also announced that he will determine eight spaces reserved for graffiti on that public road and that he will extinguish the paintings that illustrate the so-called “Arcos do Jânio”, installed at the beginning of 23 de Maio, an avenue that connects the north and south areas of the city.


On his personal page on Twitter, João Dória Jr. publicizes the action of the Cidade Linda program. In the attached image, the mayor of São Paulo erases a graffiti on Avenida 23 de Maio. Photo: Playback / Twitter

In defending graffiti as an artistic alternative to picho, Dória, on the other hand, ignores four decades of historical importance of visual expression for Hip-Hop. Compulsorily erasing city walls and walls by impregnating the walls with gray and wanting to determine exclusive spaces for the practice of graffiti is also to disregard the autonomy of an expression that has always been free and has always allowed legitimate manifestations of the less visible layers of unequal societies, such as ours. .

The absence of dialogue with the Hip-Hop community, present in São Paulo since the early 1980s, shows, in this case, an arbitrary behavior of the new municipal management. Wanting to manage the production of graffiti in the city is like wanting to intervene in capoeira and remove the berimbau from the roda, it doesn't make any sense.

In the official communiqué about the Cidade Linda project published on the City Hall website, the following excerpt stands out: “The main objective is to improve urban care and the recovery of the self-esteem of São Paulo residents, in an integrated action between public authorities, the private sector, NGOs and citizens”.

Partnerships aside, as manager of the largest city in Latin America, João Dória should have known how much Hip-Hop has raised – and will continue to raise – the self-esteem of the peripheral youth of São Paulo. Denying the free expression of this expressive layer of our society is also denying the city in its essence.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the asepsis task forces, which are welcome in terms of maintaining public spaces, will probably have a temporary effect in relation to graffiti. After all, the proliferation of gray walls in São Paulo is also an open invitation to new interventions. As a provocation replicated in various parts of the city says: “I tar and you paint / Let's see who has the most paint”.

On the afternoon of this Monday (16), councilman Eduardo Suplicy (PT-SP) published on his official Facebook page the photo below his office, recently graffitied by the artist Mari Mats. In the post, he also shared the following message: “Graffiti is an original, street, inclusive and democratic art form. It rejects restrictions and fixed rules, encourages popular participation. It became a culture of resistance to social and urban segregation. I encourage this important cultural and artistic manifestation, dedicating one of the walls of my office to the work of the artist Mari Mats”.

Councilman Eduardo Suplicy (PT-SP) presents the newly painted graffiti in his office. Photo: Playback / Facebook

CONTENT! Brazilians
Read interview with Paulo Mendes da Rocha, cover of our issue 108, July 2016.
– Read also the report On the Razor's Edge, by Leonor Amarante, former editor of the magazine ARTE!Brasileiros, on the rise of graffiti as an artistic expression.

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