Monday, December 29, 2008

An Excuse to Practice My Portuguese...?

So let start by admitting that I am not the best when it comes to remember dates and deadlines especially those related to bills...While I was in Brazil I ordered Rosetta Stone through their 3 month online subscription and recently it was up but apparently it automatically renews itself after three months if you don't ended up paying for another three months! Needless to say I was a little bit upset with myself but decided I just have to make sure I take advantage of it and since things are a little bit slower here now I figure I'll have some time. I received a dictionary for Christmas from Jules so I am trying to start using that too.

Since it has become a regular habit in these entries I feel it is my duty to share the most recent movies I have watched with others, especially those that I think are thought provoking. The latest movie I watched is called Quase Dois Irmãos. (Almost Brothers) The film opens and closes with the main character saying: We all have two lives: the one we dream of and the one we live. It tells the story of two men who end up in prison together, one for political reasons and the other for committing a crime. It depicts their friendship and the social struggles faced by one another while in prison together as well as their current state. One ends up being a senator and the other a major drug dealer in one of the favelas in Rio. I was trying to find a clip to share but was having a hard time finding one with subtitles.

This clip above is from a movie called The Year My Parents Went on Vacation. It was a decent movie. I think one of my favorite parts was some of the music. This is the trailer from the film. Basically covers most of the major scenes from the film. It takes place in the 1970s. A boy is left at his grandfathers house because his parents are involved in political uprisings and decide to hide in fear of being caught by the government. It turns out the boys grandfather is dead when he is dropped off and his neighbor who was friends with his grandfather takes him in. It takes place in Sao Paulo and the boy resides in a Jewish Community.

One of the songs I liked from the movie. Roberto Carlous- Eu Sou Terrí­vel. I am terrible?

Last clip is from a movie called Central Station. Probably one of my favorites so far. This woman works in a station writing letters for people for a few reis each day. Through this she meets a single mother and her son who desperately are in search of the father and come to her to write a letter to send to him. The mother ends up being killed and the boy becomes abandoned in the station so the lady ends up taking him in and helps him search for his father. They end developing a friendship and help one another. This scene shows a few examples of the people who come to have letters written. Kind of funny.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Different Places. Different Smells.

I've been up all night cleaning my room and finally trying to make it feel like home. Between being sick and the holidays I haven't felt like organizing my room. I think part of me wasn't ready to because I am so use to it being temporary. The last 4 years I only came home maybe a couple months a year and then would go back to Baltimore. I finally was able to clean out one of my suit cases from my trip but still have one left. I don't think I am still ready to empty it. I open it up and my clothes smell like Brazil. I remember when I was younger, when my cousin Nalita came to visit she had this same pleasant scent and as weird as it sounds..I'm not ready to part with it. The same thing happened when I was waiting at the airport in Atlanta on my way to Rio. Someone that was waiting to board the plane had this scent and it made me smile. So for now it will wait in the corner until I desperately need the clothes. Luckily since the weather is cold here right now I don't need most of it.

As I mentioned in the last entry, I've been watching a few different films about Brazil. The most recent being Manda Bala. It is a pretty intense documentary that tells the story of several different people from central Brazil. Their stories and struggles are centered around the corruption and violence that take place in many parts throughout Brazil. I found a lot of the information upsetting but not all too surprising. However, I was surprised by one major issue that was discussed in the film. It addressed the daily kidnappings that take place in São Paulo which was something I wasn't aware of. Often times it involves the victim's ear being cut off and sent along with a ransom that includes a taping of the victim's suffering. I couldn't bear to watch parts of it. I still am puzzled by the struggle among classes and the divisions among the wealthy and poor. I know that equality in the world can't really exist but at times it is hard for me not to hope. I mention this because this film depicted two different sides of these kidnappings. One being the victim and the other the criminal and after hearing both sides it almost made up for how terrible the act is because I began to feel for the criminal. But how could this be?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Movies. Movies. Movies

Since I've been pretty sick the last several weeks I decided to utilize my time to see some Brazilian movies. First being one called the Elite Squad that focused on the corrupt legal system in Brazil but specifically in relation to the favelas and police. It was a rather interesting movie. I think I might of actually liked it better than City of Gods. I also had the chance to watch a movie called Black Orpheus or Orfeu Negro in Portuguese. I enjoyed this movie a lot. One being that it is an old film. From 1959. It shows many views a top mountains looking down at Rio. Really beautiful. There are also lots of scenes with downtown Rio. I found myself recognizing places I had visited when I would walk downtown in Centro. Some of the old buildings down there are remarkable. The clip above is from the film. It is from the very end. The best part of the clip is definitely when the little girl starts dancing. Very cute. The large part of the film takes place during Carnival which I found interesting to watch. Another part of the film I enjoyed was the main character Orpheus. The role was played by Breno Mello. Handsome man I must say. Apparently he was as soccer player and actor during his lifetime. I guess in the last couple of years they made a documentary about the film and its relationship with today's Brazil, illustrating the vitality of Brazilian music, such as the Samba and Bossa-Nova. I was trying to find out where I could watch the documentary but am having trouble locating it anywhere.

I decided renting movies would be a another good way, besides music, for me to listen to more Portuguese being spoken. I am enjoying it. Also it has become good research. Not all are necessarily completely factual but it's fun. I have a few more coming in the mail via Netflix so I am looking forward to seeing what is next.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Maria Rita

Marisa Monte

Since returning from Brazil I feel as though I have tried to somehow listen to, read, or talk about something related to my trip everyday or the country. It has really changed my life. I guess in some ways I am afraid of forgetting everything especially the things that I really enjoyed. I feel like I am already pretty forgetful. I also have started looking into ways to go back mostly because I just started doing what I wanted to..when I was preparing to leave. I found a few opportunities..a residency in Salvador Bahia. Very different from Rio which is what I am wanting to do this next time. I really want to visit Sao Paulo, Mina Gerais, and Porte Algre..all of which would take some time to explore. I want to actually travel through the country not just Rio. I also looked into teaching English Rio for a few months. I have seen several programs that you can get trained for but am not really sure if this is the time for me to do that or if I am really cut out I feel as though my thoughts are constantly changing about my plans for the upcoming year..sometimes they change daily. I definitely am a little spastic. I guess it is the artist in me. Too many thoughts at once...

I started listening non-stop to Brazilian music. The library here actually has some decent stuff so I am looking forward to exploring the many branches around the Columbus area. Until I can fully explore I have a hearty collection thanks to my friend Luciana. She supplied me with plenty of songs but it has come to the point where my sister gets annoyed anytime I play anything because she has heard it so much the last two weeks. These two songs above are probably the ones I play the most. Both talented ladies. The first song by Maria Rita..I am actually attempting to learn how to sing the song. I figure this will be a good way to practice my pronunciation and singing. I probably attempt to sing it about once a day...lyrics and all. I just started reading a book about the history of Bossa Nova as well and am looking forward to reading this other book I got called Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life thanks to some online searching.

In addition...I have been reading this great blog by a girl who writes about getting married to someone from Brazil and the adjustment of living as a Gringa in Rio. She really does a good job of sharing her experience and I have found it easy to relate to some of her posts she has recently written. The Link if you care to check it out. A really good resource for me and very inspirational. So lots and lots of reading..

I've also decided that I am going to make a book from my trip that is I guess a kind of published version of my journal to document all the things I collected while I was there and to reflect on everything. I guess in someways it might be similar to what I did for my last project involving the warehouse in Baltimore..same idea of documentation. I will post the pages on this blog to share with everyone. Either way I am kind of excited about it. Should be a fun project and keep me busy on my computer with layouts and designs. I just have some many thoughts running through my head though so I really need to start organizing everything. Plenty of time..

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Upon my arrival back into the states I had a deadline to meet pertaining to an art residency in New York City for the upcoming year that would last 2 months and give a stipend for supplies. I jumped on the opportunity and felt that it would be most appropriate to use the opportunity to create a piece that was the next step from my last project. It is pretty simple in this phase. Not too many details but I figure I have time. I am not the best writer so it took some time to compile something that made some sense. My mother read it and told me, "Oh that sounded great. All the artist bullshit they always use where it doesn't make sense but sounds good." Made me feel much better about the whole thing.

Comment if you wish.

The last few years I’ve been researching and developing work centered around the theme of consumption. I naturally began to create my work with materials that were in need of reuse. I began working with newspaper and researched its physical production, history, and reclamation in the United States. From there I began working on a project called “4500 Fait Ave” It involved the reuse of a mass supply of newsprint found in an abandoned warehouse in Baltimore. In finding this material, I felt it was my responsibility to use it rather than it be thrown away. In doing so, I created relief sculptures and installations that captured characteristics of the abandoned warehouse as well as the community it resided in. The project ended in a much deeper look at my own connection to the history of the space and community as well as learning more about the history of industry throughout the city

Most recently I just returned from a trip abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. While I was there I became interested in learning about a country that is known for their concern for our impact on the environment. In being in this other country I soon realized just how much more our culture consumes compared to others, this being in many different forms. With this residency I intend to work on a piece in response to this trip. The piece I am hoping to make would be made with newspaper and steel. My intention in working with these two materials is to ask questions about the materials relationship to one another. Consuming information vs Consuming Product (Both hold value for different reasons. Both have weight in different forms. One holds a lot of material information. The other holds physical weight and can potentially become a material object. Metal an organic material that is broken down to its natural form. Recycled. Reused in its early form. Newspaper is a very fragile material. Soft. Broken down. Reused. The value in the paper is the words. The value in the metal is the material, which is manufactured into product.) In creating this installation I hope to address this issue of consumption and allow others to respond with their own thoughts.