By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – To help address questions about urban planning in Rio, the art collective OPAVIVARÁ!, will establish a three-week residency in Rio’s historic Praça Tiradentes. The event, best described as a public performance installation, is intended to challenge the way residents of the city perceive and interact with public spaces.
The installation activities commence this Wednesday, May 16th, with communal laundry, communal cooking, and a modern interpretation of the water fountains that use to be a place of public convergence in Rio.
The group has events planned for each Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday over the next three weeks and will be distributing a weekly journal discussing the project, art theory, and urban development.
The historic square was established in the 18th century with the arrival of the Portuguese royalty; it is one of Rio’s oldest urban locales. Since 1890, the square has been called Tiradentes after the would-be revolutionary who was quartered by horses for his role in the seditious planning of an overthrow of the Portuguese crown.
“Art offers answers to a lot of the questions about urban planning that are now facing Rio,” states one of the artist in the collective. “All the artists of OPAVIVARÁ!! are interested in the observation/interaction aspect of art, we do work in galleries and museums, but also pieces like this as way to challenge the role of the observer.”
When the observer becomes participant the ideas about the purpose of the piece are altered, enriched, everyone has a stake in the creation. This type of installation is important to promote creative thought about the city and, in this case, Praça Tiradentes.
Praça Tiradentes has been the site of various OPAVIVARÁ! events in the past years. Situated between Lapa and Centro, the park is key in recapturing the use and enjoyment of Rio’s downtown (an area that is all but avoided in the evening).
“We don’t have objectives, we are artists, we don’t have an end goal, but we identify the power of art and how it can change ideas about a concept or an area,” describes another artist. “We want to change people’s ideas about Tiradentes, show them it is a place to be enjoyed by everyone.”
The radical changes in Lapa, once an area replete with the malandros (small-time crooks) and brothels, in the past ten years is proof that areas once avoided can be revitalized by culture and art.
Tiradentes is primed to reclaim its role as the theater district of Rio. With João Caetano Theater at the corner and smaller theaters around the square, the area only requires a few visionaries to restore the square to its deserved glory.
This change will not happen overnight, but starts with freethinking groups like OPAVIVARÁ! that promote interaction and thought about urban life in Rio. More info, including explanation of past events, can be found at the group’s website, though for those interested in how Rio will develop in the coming years it is worth the trip to Tiradentes to witness the installation first-hand.