Between June and August 2018 ogino:knauss was in an exploratory mission in Rio de Janeiro. The goal was to identify territories and local partners for the production of a future episode of Urbiquity. For 40 days Jopixel and Sergio have experienced from the inside the challenging, tough, painful reality of living in Rio. Here we explored another expression of the concept of periphery, that of the favela, which is not marked necessarily by a physical distance from the center, rather by a radical marginalisation given by physical conditions, morphology, stigma, and concentration of disadvantaged and segregated social groups. According to the studio realised by the prefeitura “Favelas na cidade do Rio de Janeiro: o quadro populacional com base no Censo 2010”, 23% of Rio de Janeiro inhabitants live in favelas. This value increases to 35% considering only central zones and decreases to 17% considering only the south zone. Almost one and half million people resides in favelas. (Data from the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística). If not formally planned in the modern urban fabric, the favela develops all around the established city, in a perversely effective symbiosis with it, all but incoherent product of its ideology and power structure. The favela is functional to the city, grows and prospers around productive settlements, shopping centres and residential enclaves, it surrounds the city of the wealthy and permits its development. The favela provide cheap and subjugated workforce for its economy. The division between rich and poor, whites and blacks, citizens and faveladi is clear-cut. During last years increasingly young leaders in the favelas welcomed the use of the term favelado as a something to be proud, an identity to reclaim, that states their resistance, resilience and strengthens a shared identity.
The task of our team to survey Rio looking for territories and people to collaborate with was difficult and dangerous. What we found is a city sinking in a spiral of violence, militarisation, segregation and social disintegration. Since the Olympics any form of social truce disappeared. The favela is increasingly the disputed territory of a steady warfare involving narcos, militias, police and military corps among which the majority of citizens, and especially their most dispossessed components, blacks, poors, kids, are left defenceless and abused. The special laws introducing the UPP Pacifying Police Unit piloted first in Santa Marta produced contradictory effects, if not totally counterproductive. Our investigation started initially from the Santa Marta favela, known as a pilot ‘pacified’ territory, interested by first timid attempts of tourism and gentrification. We participated to the workshop organised by the partners of PUC and other universities involved in the cocreation project investigating how creative coproduction can empower distressed neighbourhoods. Our attention was then directed to other favelas, like Rocinha, where we had the opportunity to be guided in a tour of the favela by film maker Carlos Casas, author of an excellent documentary on the subject. Finally we focussed our interest on the area of Marè, a huge territory, a complex of favelas in fact, which is also the place where Marielle Franco grew up and started her political activity. Here our attention was captured by the Museu da Maré, a community project dedicated to the collective memory of the favela. We met and interviewed few animators of the project and activists working in that structure, and we plan to set a collaboration for the future development of the project.
This first experience in Rio has helped us to identify quite sharply the main themes that we need to tackle in our future research. The process of securitisation and militarisation of urban space is indissolubly connected with social justice and reproduction of disparity. For this reason we selected among the exercises of urban reconnaissance that constitute the guidelines our research process the exercise Prohibited City as the ideal entry point to navigate Rio de Janeiro. We experienced concretely Rio as as a denied geography, a city which geography is determined more by the practical inaccessibility or exclusivity of its spaces than their availability to the people. Uber city, is the first nickname we employed, referring to the fact that you can only access places where Uber drivers accept to bring you or to pick you up. A city where digital apps have become essential to track violence and assaults and avoid areas where police operations are in course.
(to be continued…)
Workers from the favelas in Copacabana
The birth of the favela and its criminalisation.
-Militarization of Rocinha by UPP – Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora-Police Pacification Unit
Marielle Franco against the military intervention.
Santa Teresa_danger! assaults!
Comando Vermelho in Santa Marta
the city of the rich
street vendors in Gloria and Catete
small commerce in La Lapa