‘Home’ Research and Development: Rio de Janeiro, November 2014

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On Sunday night Mirela, our translator, took us up into Catete favela. A VW combi bus bounced us up the cobbled streets, then we walked through the tiny alleys to find The Maze, a jazz club. We met the owner Bob Nadkarni, a characterful English artist who had the foresight back in 1972, not to rejoin his broken down boat, but to stay and start the long project of building his own cavernous studio on top of a hill with one of the best views of Rio. Bob regaled us with stories about East Finchley; among other things he talked to us about some of his many projects, including his work as a film-maker, sculptor, painter and jazz musician. He and his wife also run a hostel in The Maze. He was very interested to hear about our backgrounds in the arts and the Home project – and is happy to help facilitate where he can as he has a wealth of connections with the local, and wider artistic community in Rio.

We will certainly return to The Maze when we next visit, and for anyone visiting Rio soon we strongly recommend it.

On Monday we met Luana Cabral, Artistic Producer and Coordinator for AfroReggae. Their work started in Vigario favela twenty-two years ago as a response to daily violence and tragedy. They now run a variety of projects promoting justice and inclusion through Afro- Brazilian culture. Luana’s impressive presentation of their work and the beliefs underlying everything they do was fascinating. We were particularly struck by the variety of support mechanisms and projects that gives physical and emotional support that empowers. Since Bill Mitchell, Artistic Director of WildWorks, believes strongly in the importance of supporting local communities who become part of WildWorks productions, there was a resonance in the work of the two companies. Luana was interested in the images and descriptions of previous collaborations between Zap and Wild Works, including Souterrain.

AfroReggae is a truly inspirational company, and we valued the opportunity to meet Luana and hear about their work.

Tuesday: another great day. We started with a meeting with Cristina Bokel Becker who has worked previously for the British Council (she remembers meeting Bill Mitchell in Cornwall in his Kneehigh days). We had attended the opening of her ATOS DE FALA Festival the evening before and Cristina was very pleased that the festival made the front page of the newspaper. Cristina was passionate about the discovery of new voices in the arts in Brazil and encouraged our project to make new links in Rio beyond the few well-known arts bodies.

We greatly enjoyed meeting Cristina, being introduced to ATOS DE FALA, and her warm enthusiasm and considered suggestions for ‘Home’. We hope to spend more time with her as the project develops.

Next we visited Mauricio Hora and his assistant, Cristiano, in Favelarte in Gamboa. Mauricio is an internationally renowned photographer, who took up photography as a ‘weapon’ to escape the violence of his favela upbringing. He was very interested in our Home project. He would love his work to reach a wider audience to enable his community to have a stronger voice. He then took us on the cable car up into Providentia favela to visit his Casa Miyella ‘Yellow House’, an arts space, funded by the money raised by French documentary photographer JR.

To meet Mauricio and to see the Yellow House was a privilege.

Wednesday: another inspirational day! Firstly to the dance studios of Redes de Mare organisation, a huge working studio space in The Mare (a collection of 16 favelas). We met Isabella Porto, the Coordinator at the Studios and Lia Rodrigues, a choreographer of her own international dance company. Two hundred and fifty students aged seven to seventy, attend free dance classes, and eighteen young people attend class four hours daily forming the core dance company in this space. We visited a variety of Redes De Mare’s spaces, including an impressive project including adult and children’s libraries, study rooms and, outside, bikes belonging to the Mare Sem Fronteiras programme to encourage kids to cross the symbolic borders created by the criminals in the favelas. Their project has produced the first map of the 16 favelas; this makes the favelas visible to the world. The Redes De Mare project started off twenty-two years ago, as a fight for basic rights for things such as water. Now it has widened its brief to the need for culture and public security and is currently running 16 projects locally. They are keen to promote pride in local people’s home areas by bringing in artists e.g. Italian photographer Antonio Venturi, who created a very positive exhibition based on work with drug users about their ideas on the place they call home.

Relationships to Home were clear. However – beyond that – it was simply a pleasure to hear about their history and achievements.

After a great local lunch, we visited Observatorio De Favelas in Bella Mare, 2 blocks away. We met Jorge Barbosa, a gentle yet dynamic academic who heads the Observatory and the Cultural Centre nearby. He is a great believer in public art not just being about aesthetics, but also being about socialisation. The project has many strands: photography agency and school, web design, research office, publicly agency and a partnership with the university, which also accredits their courses. The cultural centre is exhibiting, for the third year running, an impressive contemporary art show ‘Travessiass’, linking well-known and local artists. Jorge likes to work in partnerships that deliver legacy and change; he was interested in the title of our book Landscape Theatre. To help our work, he offered access to very detailed information on the favelas (one interesting fact, there are 500 Rock bands in the favelas!)

The themes of resilience, identity and community have been emerging as we talk around this concept of home.

Thursday, our last day in wonderful Rio. Mirela, our fantastic guide, showed us around Vidigal favela. The steep hilly favela was lively and friendly. It had three outdoor performance areas, as well as a large sports arena and kindergarten. Apparently the local drug baron arranged for the arena to be built after a huge landslide destroyed part of the hill. We visited the project Todos na Luta where Mirela volunteers. Raff Giglo set up this boxing project in 1993 to help disadvantaged young people through boxing; two of its boxers won medals in last year’s London Olympics. His daughter, among others, runs a programme developed with Harvard University, which includes self awareness and creativity. Each session cIMG_20141104_155657omprises of four elements: The mind, using meditation techniques. The Body, boxing. Feelings, getting in touch with their feelings through creative activities. The Mouth, words, and making connections. The project uses video to build communication skills and empower the youngsters as well as build skills in using technology. Lucas, the psychology specialist, offered to help us with links to São Paulo and Rio universities; we are hoping to connect with institutes of learning in each location.

After winding our way down the hill past numerous barbers, cafes and small shops, we went through an oily car mechanic workshop to find Moda Fusion a fashion atelier that trains twenty young people each year in pattern cutting, sewing skillsand design. The students have links with the fashion world in Paris, as well as central St Martins in London. We were encouraged to contact Gringo Cardia, ‘the father of creative enterprises in Rio’, if we wanted a fashion link for Home.

All the work we have seen in the favelas has been really inspiring. We have been made very welcome by all the people we have visited, and have come away with a lot of positive feedback on our initial ideas for Home.

Home – Conceived by Dave Reeves with Bill Mitchell and produced by Zap Art in collaboration with artistic lead WildWorks. Supported using public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England. 

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BLOG
HOME – A MAJOR INTERNATIONAL PROJECT IN DEVELOPMENT
by Charlie
October 10, 2014
We need your help.

Working in partnership with Zap Art, we are exploring possibilities for a major international project, in which we turn our creative gaze to the notion of HOME. We believe this is an important theme to consider at the point at which our global actions are defining the 21st century; at a point when personal and community resilience has never been such an essential asset in a world where complex and unrelenting change feels beyond our control. We want to explore what we need around us to feel at home, what we can learn from different cultures about new ways to cohabit and grow.

We are exploring stories of home and homelessness; rootedness and migrancy; belonging and displacement; access and exclusion. We need to ask if our existing assumptions and understandings about HOME represent the reality of living in our rapidly transforming world. We believe we need to redefine our sense of what constitutes HOME and that we should do that together across communities, across barriers, across borders.

What is it? Bricks and mortar? A familiar sky and landscape? A group of people? A sense of confidence? Something we need others to recognise? How do we create a sense of “at-homeness” in the midst of evolution, shifts and turmoil?

In November and December 2014 a small team of WildWorkers are going to Soweto, Mumbai and Rio. What shall we ask? We will be asking questions such as:

‘Why do you call this home?’

‘What do you most value about where you live?’

‘Is there something in particular that makes you feel at home?’

‘What would you miss most if you left here?’

Is home a suitcase?

Is home a food?

Is home a language?

Is home a person?

Describe home in three words

Describe home in three objects

Is there a question that you would like us to ask? Something you would like to know about any of those places? If so – get in touch with us by:

tweeting a question to @wild_works
Emailing a question to info@wildworks.biz
Adding a comment to our Facebook post or blog post
Home has been conceived by Dave Reeves with Bill Mitchell. Zap Art has received public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England for the research and development of ideas for this project with WildWorks as artistic lead.

WildWorks join international outdoor arts project as lead artist for ‘Home’

Zap Art are delighted to announce that WildWorks theatre company will be the lead artist for Home. WildWorks and Zap Art have worked together previously on the acclaimed PECA commissioned production Souterrain. Our collaboration and process will be documented on the blog as the research and development process continues, but for now it gives us great pleasure to introduce our artistic partners:

WildWorks is one of the UK’s leading producers of outdoor theatre, led by internationally renowned Bill Mitchell. It creates world-class productions across a variety of contexts with a broad range of partners including National Theatres in Wales and England, Historic Royal Palaces, World Stages London and the National Youth Theatre. Crucially, WildWorks is a continuing creative risk-taking experiment to push at the boundaries of both participation and contemporary performance practice. As an international, art-led company based in Cornwall, it balances high production values with a distinctive commitment to – and delivery in – community engagement. No other company in England achieves this balance with such depth and scale.
Its work demonstrates a catalytic capacity to convene, to connect and to communicate. The company believes that community is a simple but profound conjuncture of people and place. Stories of substance rooted in lived experience are the prize it repeatedly seeks, often finds and successfully amplifies. Its shows are made with and for the widest range of people through an ever-evolving collaborative participatory process that draws on its own tried and tested methodologies. Its driver is site and the stories that emerge from it. Led by the artist Bill Mitchell, the company develops engaging and universal stories from places and the people who are connected to them. It is art led and holds that from its experience the artist can play a pre-eminent role in placemaking, community building and regeneration.  Wildworks consistently challenge peoples’ perception of what theatre can be and we consistently challenge ourselves about how work can be made.
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