In 2007, Sao Paulo’s government launched the “Cidade Limpa” (Clean City) project, with the intention to standardize all visual advertisements throughout the city. This initiative has addressed what was indeed an overwhelming visual pollution, common to many large metropolises in the developing world, and in this matter it has certainly improved the life of the population.
But initiatives such as Cidade Limpa only deal with the most superficial aspects of the city and its problems. They are aseptic projects that do not propose structural changes. Sao Paulo’s housing deficit, for instance, is a much bigger problem that affects people’s lives directly and contributes to the degradation of the city in a much more fundamental way than mere visual pollution.
I plan to address this contradiction by using visual advertising methods to confront people with both the consequences of the housing deficit and the possible solutions to the problem. Concretely, I want to project images of what I have called “CITIZEN X” on facades in five central locations in Sao Paulo between the hours of 6pm to 1am.
“Citizen X” refers to the thousands of people who live on the margins of Brazilian society. Sao Paulo’s housing deficit, according to some estimates, stands at over 7.9 million units. And yet there are around 400 thousand empty apartments and houses scattered around the city, mostly in dilapidated areas—a testament both to the magnitude of the problem as to the potential for change.
As a photographer I have been documenting the different social movements fighting for proper housing in the city since 2006. Sao Paulo’s homeless movement started in the early 1990’s and only distinguishes itself from the more famous countryside landless movement (MST) because it is mainly urban. Twelve organizations now represent over 13 thousand families. The huge majority are migrants from Brazil’s poorest regions, who have joined immigrants from other South American countries in looking for a better life in Sao Paulo.
Over the years it occurred to me that a great way to make people aware of the problem would be to literally force them to look and interact with my photographs. Projecting them onto the facades of buildings in key locations throughout this huge metropolis would certainly accomplish this. The goal is to provoke a two-fold reaction on the part of the spectator: a contemplation of what constitutes beauty in a city, and at the same time, raising awareness about its contradictions.
The people photographed for this project throughout the past three and a half years are either unemployed or have unprotected jobs in the city’s informal economy. They have been homeless since their arrival here.
Your involvement will help raise visibility of this issue by taking them directly to hundreds of thousands of people through projections on buildings, in parks and tunnels and on the façade of Sao Paulo’s Museum of Art.
FINANCIAL GOALS + BUDGET:
$14,500 will provide total funding for rental, installation and technical team on each day for the five projections in five different spots from 6pm to 1am.
WHERE THE PROJECTIONS WILL TAKE PLACE:
MASP's façade (Sao Paulo Museum of Art)
On a building on Vevd. Pres. Artur da Costa E Silva
Av. Nove de Julho Tunnel
Ibirapuera Park’s Lake
On a building on Av. Prestes Maia