By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Self Service Pajé, the newest installation by OPAVIVARÁ in the Brazilian Contemporary Room at Centro Cultural Banco do Brazil Rio de Janeiro (CCBB), combines the self-service mentality that pervades the Rio dining landscape (e.g., kilos) with shamanic traditions of indigenous tribes and African cultures.

Self Service Pajé, the newest installation by OPAVIVARÁ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The ambiance of Room A at CCBB welcomes discussion and thought, photo by Nathan M. Walters.

Keeping with OPAVIVARÁ’s focus on observer participation, the new installation has transformed the spacious room at CCBB into a space for community discourse and do-it-yourself shamanic experimentation. The walls are painted black and lined with hammocks, creating a mellow and inviting atmosphere.

In the middle of the room, a rustic wooden kiosk that would not look out of place along the beach in Copacabana.  In fact, when the installation was first staged, at the 2011 Rio Art Fair, many observers confused the stand for just another street vendor, inquiring about the cost for a cup of tea.

“One of our objectives in bringing the installation to the CCBB was the ambiance, a place where people could relax and discuss,” mentions one of the (always anonymous) members of OPAVIVARÁ.

“The idea was based on exchanging ideas about healing, communal experimentation, different people gathering to try different herbal combinations.”

In effect, Self Service Pajé is a do-it-yourself tea service.  The room’s kiosk is filled with sixty different herbs, known for their medicinal properties, as well as various tea making apparti.

Visitors to the installation are provided with a description of the herbs, their properties, and the ailments they are supposed to address.  After learning about the herbs, attendees are free to mix them as they see fit.

In the tribal cultures of Brazil, the pajé (shaman or witchdoctor) are divined with the knowledge of healing, often with herbal remedies. While motivation for the ideas are drawn from unique Brazilian traditions, the issues the work speaks to are international in scope

Self Service Pajé, the newest installation by OPAVIVARÁ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Visitors to the installation can experiment with sixty herbs, photo by Nathan M. Walters.

“Part of the motivation for the piece was a challenge to the pill culture, the idea that there is a pill to cure everything. Big pharma wields a lot of power, we wanted to show people that they could try to address their own ailments with traditional herbal medicine,” says one of the collective’s members.

The installation, which occupies Room A thru July 12th, was scheduled to coincide with the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development that ended last week.  OPAVIVARÁ and the cultural producer of Room A believed the installation was a good opportunity for people to reconnect with herbal remedies, a way to foster a dialogue between environmentalist and the popular culture.

As with other OPAVIVARÁ projects, Self Service Pajé, an object-performance, uses art to promote dialogue between different levels of society.  The installation is a welcoming space for the aspiring shaman, but also a nice room to experiment with herbs and maybe chat with others that are interested in Brazilian culture.

Sala A Contemporânea | CCBB
OPAVIVARÁ | Self Service Pajé
From June 11 – July 12, 2012
Tuesday thru Sunday 9AM until 9PM
Free entrance

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