Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Graffiti Artist Profiles #1 - Pinel & Peace

Greetings!

thought it was time for us to get intimate with my research. I'm going to write up a DRAFT of the artists' profiles I'm working on for our book production. I'm going all out and putting these on my blog - first - so just to get me writing them, second - to air them out to the public in hopes of getting feedback, and third - cuz i thought maybe you'd find them interesting?

I don't know why they are coming out with underlines and I can't figure out how to take it off! sorry!


Jackson Barbosa: Pinel

Pinel, from the EGS (Salvador Graffiti Squad) crew, is one of Salvador’s most prolific and prominent pichadores. Despite five years participation in the Salvador Graffiti Project, he admits he’s a pichador at heart. He started to tag in high school after seeing the guy next doing it. He couldn’t afford to buy spray paint, so he used pens, whiteout, and cazeiros (???). For years, he’d hit the streets in the middle of the night with a can of spray and a backpack, blanketing the city with new pichacao. Pinel ended up getting arrested 14 times – and has 14 fascinating stories to accompany each arrest. He lit up as he told story after story about his street adventures, from broken arms, to police painting his face, pichando police officers’ homes, to “scorando” buildings.

Pinel, do crew EGS (Esquadrão dos Grafiteiros de Salvador), é um dos mais conhecidos pichadoresque proliferou sua arte por toda Salvador. Embora ele tenha participado pelos últimos cincos anos no Projeto Salvador Grafita, ele admite que é um pichador de coração. Ele começou pichar no colégio depois de ver o vizinho fazendo. Não tinha como comprar spray então ele usava caneta, caneta corretiva e material caseiro. Por anos ele saia na rua por volta da meia noite com uma lata de spray, a mochila e cobriu a cidade com nova pichação. Pinel foi preso 14 vezes e tem 14 historias fascinantes. Se emocionou cada vez que contou as historias de suas aventuras: de braços fraturados, a policia pintando o rosto dele, pichando a casa da policia e escorando prédios.

Pinel has a raw thirst to pichar. In the past he would do anything to get the money to buy spray – from selling cheese on the beach to laying bricks. He went through many phases of pichacão: scorando – the act of tagging one story higher than someone else, tagging only the ground, tagging phrases on buildings, tagging mostly in his neighborhood and tagging only wealthy areas. The crews back then use to compete by tagging the most risky places – the military police, official clubs, rich neighborhoods like Barra, or Aeroclub. Pinel recalls tagging the message “os fieis vem a rezar e agente vem a pichar” (the faithful come to pray, we come to tag) on churches.

Pinel tem uma sede para pichar. No passado, ele fez o que foi preciso para conseguir dinheiro para comprar spray: de vender queijo na praia ou trabalhar de pedreiro. Ele passou por muitas fases da pichação - escorando prédios (é o ato de pichar um andar acima da pichação do outro), pichando no chão, pichando frases, pichando no bairro, pichando só nas áreas ricas. Os crus (crews?) daquele tempo concorriam pichando nos locais com mais riscos, como delegacias, clubes oficiais, na Barra e Aeroclub. Pinel lembra pichando a mensagem em uma igreja, “os fieis vem rezar, e agente vem pichar.”

For the public who see pichacão on the streets and ask “WHY?” in despair, talking to Pinel for a couple hours might help one understand. Pichando is a way to express himself, communicate with others, and take risks. He explains that pichacão is like therapy, a way to relieve stress. For him, it is a way to be noticed, call attention to himself – afterall, if he hadn’t been a pichador, he’s just be a normal guy. And, he points out, pichacão is a lot healthier than selling drugs, robbing or drinking, like the fate of so many of his friends. For Pinel, being a pichador means challenging the system and disrupting order. He points out that pichacao generates jobs for many – from police officers to painters with the Department of Sanitation. Even Graffiti artists gain work because of pichacao – since the public prefers to see graffiti and will pay to have graffiti in order to prevent future pichacao. He explains that pichadores risk a lot when they go out and tag. They leave their families, they spend hard-earned money on spray paint, they take risks with the police, the public.

Para o publico que vêem a pichação na rua, e se perguntam “POR QUE?” com desespero, vão encontrar respostas ao falar com Pinel. Para ele, pichar é uma maneira de se expressar, comunicar com os demais e se arriscar. Ele explica que pichação é como terapia, para aliviar o estresse. Para ele, é um jeito de ser visto, chamar atenção, porque se não tivesse sido pichador, ele seria só um “rapaz” normal. Segundo Pinel, a pichação faz menos mau do que vender drogas, roubar ou beber, como foi destino de muitos amigos dele. Para Pinel, ser pichador é enfrentar o sistema e romper a ordem. Ele descreve que a pichação gera emprego para muitos como os policias e agentes sanitários. Até os grafiteiros ganham trabalhos por causa da pichação - porque o público prefere ver a arte do grafite do que a pichação, então eles pagam grafiteiros para fazer peças para prevenir que as paredes sejam pichadas. Pinel explica que o pichador sacrifica muito quando sai para pichar - deixam as suas famílias, gastam dinheiro no spray e se arriscam com a policia e o público.

After talking to Pinel we can begin to understand that the lack of opportunity and education can really be devastating in someone’s life. He told us many examples of tragedies that have happened with his friends and acquaintances who were pichadores. Some of these tragedies occurred only because of the environment of poverty – so it makes so much sense that they’d start to tag the city to try to get attention – even if for a few seconds, to say “I exist.” For the last five years in Salvador more than fifteen pichadores have died – some of them were involved in drug trafficking or crimes, others because of the reality they live in – poverty. They were all between 15 and 20 years old. Some of those Pinel mentioned included: Brad, Tron, Praga, Final do Beck, Capeta, Fibo, Jebo, Lepra, Smith, Vampi, Sinico, Gafa, Wante, Edge, Sala, Stufe, Stop. (it’s crazy to believe that not one of them had talent?!

Depois de falar com Pinel, da para entender melhor como é que a falta de oportunidades e educação pode afetar a vida de alguém. Ele nos deu muitos exemplos das tragédias que tem acontecido com os amigos e conhecidos dele, que foram pichadores. Algumas dessas tragédias ocorreriam porque moram em um ambiente de pobreza, é por esta razão que começam a pichar toda a cidade para chamar atenção - embora só por alguns segundos - e dizer ao mundo: eu existo. Pelos últimos 5 anos em Salvador, muitos pichadores vem morrendo - todos entre 15 e 20 anos de idade. Alguns deles são: Brad, Tron, Praga, Final do Beck Capeta, Fibo, Jebo, Lepra, Smith, Vampi, Sinico, Gafa, Wante, Edge, Sala, Stufe, Stop. É loucura acreditar que nem um deles tinham um talento?!

Pinel has been a part of the Projeto Salvador Graffiti for five years, and credits his participation in the project to why he no longer goes out and tag the way he use to. He’ll occasionally do a bomb here or there, but mostly he’s putting up graffiti – images of cartoon-like characters with super-enlarged quadratic heads. In 2008 (?) he had the chance to travel with the Projeto Salvador Graffiti to Europe to display his art internationally. Pinel’s wife, Monica, is also a graffiti artist with the Projeto. They live together in Sao Caetano where they both grew up (?????). They have two kids, who recently tagged up their entire house.

Pinel faz parte do Projeto Salvador Grafita nos últimos 5 anos e relaciona a sua participação como a razão pela qual ele deixou de pichar como antes. De vez em quando ele faz bombas, mais a maioria da arte e grafite – são imagens de figuras de animação com cabeção quadrado. Em 2008, ele teve a oportunidade de viajar com o projeto para Europa e mostrar a arte em um fórum internacional. Mônica, sua esposa, também é grafiteira do Projeto. Os dois moram juntos em São Caetano onde eles cresceram. Tem dois filhos, que faz alguns dias, picharam a casa inteira.




Monday, June 28, 2010

My Project Proposal

I am working on my mid-term report for the Fulbright and revisited my original proposal (written in August 2009!!) I thought I'd post it here... trying hard to carry out its ambitious goals !!!


STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

FULBRIGHT GRANT

Carly Fox, Brazil, Urban Development and Planning

The Legitimization of Clandestine Graffiti in Salvador de Bahia

Graffiti is usually viewed as an illegitimate art form and is typically criminalized. In 2005 the mayor of Brazil’s third largest metropolis listened to young people’s idea to, in their words, “turn the city into a canvas for graffiti artists,” and implemented the Projeto Salvador Graffita (Salvador Graffiti Project, SGP). When I went to Salvador in 2006 I was stunned and enamored by the colorful murals that laced the city. The main objective of my proposed study, The Legitimization of Clandestine Graffiti in Salvador de Bahia, is to explore the origin, components and impact of the SGP on the lives of graffiti artists using participatory research methods that involve them in a process of reflection and evaluation. My research will aim to impact the ways in which we think about graffiti and transform our perception of it as a social ill into a culturally-rich asset that can simultaneously beautify a city’s walls as well as its young peoples’ lives.

As part of my Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship in 2006 I began to explore why the city I had visited a year prior had filled with elaborate graffiti murals. I learned that João Henrique Barradas Carneiro, the mayor of Salvador, had implemented a bold initiative to transform the tagged city walls into colorful graffiti art pieces with positive social messages for the public. SGP established salaried positions for dozens of local graffiti artists – some of whom had been the city’s most notorious taggers. They painted walls, bridges, trucks, trains, overpasses, garbage cans, public hospitals and schools. I was stunned. Usually graffiti artists risked arrest when they expressed themselves, but by hiring them, the government was legitimizing their form of expression as a positive contribution to the city.

My preliminary research on the Salvador Graffiti Project concluded that the project addresses multiple challenges commonly found in the urbanizing Global South such as contention of public space, young and poor people who feel marginalized, and lack of jobs and access to education. The project has been life-changing for those involved, generating income for artists’ families, increasing their self-esteem and fostering civic participation. Through their participation young people from the periphery feel a sense of validation and are empowered to call attention to the plight of their communities, while utilizing their skills and talents as a positive force for change. In the words of a member of the Aiyê Hip Hop network – the group that conceptualized the idea of SGP - the project feeds two entities- “that of the stomach and that of the soul.” As a result of SGP, graffiti artists have begun to conquer the public’s approval of street art and are re-shaping the future of graffiti in their city. Graffiti art is now making its way into galleries and art museums. Artists and administrators have presented the project at international fora.

Though many visitors to Salvador have marveled at the stunning city art, no one has ever formally researched or published on the project. I am proposing to research the impact of the Salvador Graffiti Project on the lives of the artists who have been involved. I will focus on the life-changing aspects of the program and how effective it has been as an asset-rich youth development program for at-risk young people that addresses issues like self-esteem. I will explore questions such as: In what ways can a city government agency impact the lives of the participating young people? What mechanisms does the government take to invest in these young people beyond providing them with a job? In what ways could SGP better address their needs, such as providing arts education, capacity building, or job training skills?

I would like to increase the program’s visibility for the benefit of practitioners in many fields, such as urban planners, youth development organizations and city governments. After completion of the Fulbright program, I will return to the United States to pursue my PhD and continue my work in the field of youth development armed with the understanding of a creative and alternative program different from anything we’ve seen in the United States.

Affiliation: Through my FLAS research I have already made many contacts and am pursuing these leads to concretize an appropriate and supportive university affiliation. In 2006 I worked with the SGP Program Director, Edvando Luiz Castro Pinto, and lead graffiti artists from the project – such as “Lee,” “Pinel,” “Denis Sena,” “Samuca,” “Julio,” “Verme” and “Bigod” – to carry out my research. It is through these contacts that I am exploring potential leads with the Federal University of Bahia’s Fine Arts Department, where a number of artists from the program are currently studying. I also have potential leads at the State University of Bahia, the Gregòrio de Mattos Foundation - a prominent cultural NGO in Salvador and the Cultural Institute Brazil Italy Europe. Further, my professor at Cornell University, William Goldsmith, who has done extensive research in Brazil, has agreed to assist me in establishing contact with universities and gaining access to information in both Salvador and in Rio de Janeiro.

Research methodology: Because the Salvador Graffiti Project empowers the artists involved, my research methodology design needs to reflect this empowering experience for the artists. I will use participatory research methodology, which seeks to involve the “subjects” as “co-researchers” in a collaborative investigative process. The meaning of graffiti artists’ experience will be interpreted and constructed by both me, as the primary researcher, and select graffiti artists as research participants. Together, we will conduct focus groups and extended interviews with all of the artists involved. We will also interview others who either were impacted by, or had an impact on the program, such as the mayor, the Program Director, art museum curators and NGO-partners. I will also conduct a survey of specific groups who have been impacted by the project such as artists’ families, graffiti artists who never participated in the program and government officials who have been impacted by the program. Once the data has been collected and analyzed, I hope to broaden access to the research by publishing and creating a toolkit for municipal governments who are interested in replicating similar graffiti programs in their cities.

Timeline: During the first two months of the program (March-May, 2010) I will re-establish contact with the dozen or so graffiti artists and government officials in the program who I met in 2006, identify and begin to work with potential co-researchers (former and current artists from the project), co-create and carry out our interview instruments and focus groups. During June and July we will finish interviewing all of the artists who have been a part of SGP (approximately 50) and survey artists’ family members. By the end of July I will have conducted a key set of qualitative extended interviews and will begin to analyze the results. From August-September I will conduct interviews with additional actors in the project who play a secondary role in its success and/or contribute to its challenges. From October-November I will collaborate with artists and government officials to publish a resource geared towards informing other city governments interested in replicating the project.

Our trip to the countryside for Sao Joao

I've been rolling this blog around in my head for days now, excited about many things to report. First, let's start with the "gorgeous charmer" who just turned 2 months old!!!! She is now giving us smiles on demand, as soon as me or eder reach that high pitched (rather annoying) goo-goo ga-ga sound, or if we softly bring our faces to nuzzle her neck, kiss her forehead, take a delicious wiff of her head, or blow air at her stomach, she will respond with a beautiful smile and coo and caa...


Zaya also took her first trip! We headed to the "interior" of the state of Bahia to a small town called Dom Maceo Costa for the Sao Joao June festivals (St. John). She handled the trip really well - 7 hour trip on the way there (traffic. usually it takes 2 1/2 hours), 5 hours back. she seemed to really like being out in the country - crying less than we've ever seen her and eating more than ever. I was definitely nursing her more than I was not during her waking hours for 3 days in a row. She must have grown so much! All these cute clothes that she doesn't fit into anymore. urgh!


At some points I thought I was crazy to be bringing a 2 month old to rural Latin America. Anyone who has traveled to the far corners down here know what I mean. But ultimately, I think she felt really peaceful and relaxed there. We slept in such simple quarters - the first two nights at grandma's house they threw down mattresses on the floor in the dining room and me and Zaya shared one and Eder took another. Sleeping next to her was like the old days (when she was first born). I'd feel her starting to stir and would just whip out the breast and have her nurse right there laying next to me! We'd both just fall asleep like that (don't know what the experts say about this but it felt quite natural and seemed to do no harm except for some minor spitting up as a result).

The second two nights we slept at a cousin's house way out in the countryside. The house must have been over 100 years old - with clay floors, bare minimum on the walls, electricity wired through the wooden beams on the ceiling . At least there was electricity and plumbing! None of the relatives we stayed with were put out about a family coming to stay with them (this was Eder's cousin's fiance - Danilo's cousin and grandma we were staying with). The contrary, they were always there to hold her when I ate, and so accommodating to our needs (to boil water for her bath, quiet down as we put her to sleep, wipe up endless amounts of spit up on their sofas, etc). There was no planning, preparation or organizing of anything - meals, sleeping, etc... it all just sort of unfolded in the moment, which works really well when you have a baby! If she was asleep or had to nurse, we just hung out longer. She flowed too with us getting in and out of the car to visit this aunt or that cousin and to bounce around on dirt roads with curves and hills, content to watch the beautiful scenery unfold outside the car. The countryside was stunning. We ate so much delicious food - fresh-killed chickens from the backyard, delicious beans, rice, salads, manioc cakes, beef. It's served so simply, but tastes so good when it comes from so close to the source (the downside of this of course was seeing so many cattle grazing near the water - Pete always use to get so upset when he saw that, pointing out how the manure seeps into the water and pollutes the ecosystem).


I was most enthralled by Danilo's grandma - what utter joy this woman was. She always had a smile on her face, always so happy and enthusiastic. We pulled up to her house at 11:30 p.m. the first night, not sure she even knew that Danilo was bringing a family with a newborn, but greeted us with such happy enthusiasm "I love babies!" She wanted to hold Zaya immediately. She was quite the talker and spoke at length about her life and history. She is 80 years old on paper, but explained that she's really only lived 78 years. Her godparents adopted her when she was little since they couldn't have any children. She spent her youth going between her real parents and god-parents' house. When she turned 16, her godfather changed her papers so that she would be 18 in order for her to vote for the political party he was a part of. Ah, corrupt politics at its best. She went on to marry her cousin (she was very nonchalant about that when I asked how they had met, seems like it was normal in the small town. Turns out he was a "bastard" child - the son of a "maid" and the man she worked for). Even though he was a bastard, she loved him dearly and teared up a bit every time she mentioned him (he passed 15 years ago - heart attack in his late '50s). It was quite endearing to hear her speak about how he he'd bring her bouquets of flowers from the countryside when he'd return from working on the farm, or how they never once fought. She went on to have many children - never really did get an exact number - anywhere from 10 to 15 (often the case when there are deaths along the way). Every birth happened at home, many times the midwife didn't get there in time. The first birth were twins, but one was stillborn - apparently because in the 9th month she fell down. Her last birth was her daughter Laney who still lives with her. Apparently Laney fell on the floor when she was born, hitting her head, and now struggles with epilepsy and what I think are some minor psychological problems. She seems to have that last-daughter-stuck-with-mother-and-resentful-of-it syndrome.

She was very religious, spent time watching some dorky looking priest talk at her in a condescending way on the TV. We had our most awkward moment when she asked me if I am Christian or Catholic and I replied that I was Agnostic. Her confused look made me remember the time I was with my mom in Sicily, the small town of our great grandparents, and great great aunt Rosa asked about if I go to church and I tried explaining that I wasn't religious - the whole time my mom making desperate gestures to me from behind her not to go down that road. So, back to Bahia, there I was, in broken portuguese, trying to explain what Agnostic means. Didn't go over so well.

They live in a little house on a block with identical houses throughout the neighborhood. I guess 4 years back the government built the houses and gave them away for free to people who didn't have a house, at least that's how it works on paper. The neighbors told me that many folks received houses because they were friends of a friend of a relative who was in government. Many sold the house they were given and made a profit, others rent and make even more of a profit still.

We spent most of the days on vacation watching futbol games in the World Cup. Zaya has also become quite the fanatic, she is definitely a Brazil fan, but wouldn't mind seeing Ghana win the whole thing. Like her parents, she's not that much of a U.S.A. patriot - since the U.S. dominates so many other things in the world. She slept through the entire Brazil vs. Ivory Coast game - pretty impressive feat in Brazil where with each goal (and there were 3 of them) there is a loud burst of screaming, clapping, dogs barking and tons of fireworks going off. With about 15 of us in the room across from where she was sleeping we were all so impressed that she didn't wake at all. That's how I like it!!! Today Brazil plays Chile and the loser "goes home" as the announcers like to remind viewers. All the family are slowly coming home from work early to watch the game - the whole country shuts down for a game, even the malls! It's been really fun to watch the games with so many of us squeezed into a room - eating popcorn loaded with salt and butter and sprinkled with fresh coconut) or peanuts (warm, salty and wet still in their shell).

I think I'll post this blog now, it's been long enough! ate mais!

Photos below:
Some recent work of Eder's and a random shot of our trip to the country



Sunday, June 13, 2010

our humble abode
















And we're up and running as a single family unit here in

our home in Vila Canaria (Canarie Village). Just when I thought it was the end of a chapter of family visits (my mom left, Pete left, my dad left), We arrived to Eder's family!!! It's been nuts.

Let me give you some examples:

This morning's knock on the door is Eder’s cousin’s daughter- she’s around 13. She has taken a huge liking to Zaya, and “stops by” often. She usually comes in and stands there and stares at me when I’m holding Zaya or nursing her, until I pass Zaya to her to hold. I try to make conversation but her answers are too brief to sustain any kind of substance. So, there I sit, nursing, with her staring. Today she came bearing gifts, a cute little purple outfit. Her very loud and annoying mother came following her, all sugary sweet, inviting me to go to her salon to get my hair done (insting that she pick me up

probably so that I’m her captive audience). This is the cousin who didn't care much about eder until he married an American and now she wants to be his BFF. She and her daughter are still here when Eder’s aunt Rita comes in. I can usually hear Aunt Rita coming from half way down the block she is loud and talks all the time. When she talks to me she always puts my name in the sentence, like “Oh Carly, you shouldn’t put the dish clothes in to soak with the floor mats Carly” or “Carly Zaya spit up Carly, it’s all over my shirt Carly. Carly Zaya isn’t getting enough nutrients from your milk Carly.” So she comes in and starts washing dishes and helps teach me why even after a pre-wash and a day of soaking in soap and then the extra extra wash cycle the cloth diapers are still coming out with poop stains. She insists I use disposables like she did. But I try to explain about the impact on the environment and I’m sure it’s the diabolical opposites happening at that point, we just don’t get each other. I want to be able to throw the clothes in the wash. She insists it will have to be done by hand. All of it by hand. Not going to happen! (why did that text just turn blue? not sure, going to have to stay that way).

Yesterday was the first day Brazil played in the World Cup of '10 so it became like a holiday - every school, business, government function closes down. Only select restaurants are open so people can view the game. I had made plans to host 12 Cornell University students in the city planning “Brazilian Cities” summer program who are currently in Salvador, a small favor for my friend Razack who is leading the course and felt like the Salvador component lacked “exposure to the real life most people in Salvador.” So Eder and I agreed to take them on a graffiti tour right before the game and beforehand, offered to have them over to my house. So there I go, with this idea to make them some food and Eder’s mom suggests Lasagna, his cousin Tais suggests a baked pasta, and before long, they are both here with Tais’s mom Luissa (Eder’s favorite aunt) helping me cook up a storm of beans, baked pasta, fresh pineapple juice. All the while telling me which items I’m missing in my kitchen

(leiteiro, machucador, panela, jalo). Just as the food is almost ready I get a call from the group – they are stuck in a huge traffic jam (wayyyy too common in this city) and aren’t going to make it here in time to make it back to watch the game. In Portuguese it’s call – desistir – to give up. Happens wayyy too often cuz of these damn traffic jams (engarrafamento). A city planning lesson in itself. But the food didn't go to waste - Eder’s father, brother, his fiancé, other brother, his girlfriend, cousin, her boyfriend, aunt, father, etc… who all came over to watch the game and eat some pasta. We had a great time watching it all of us – Zaya asleep the first half and nursing the second. The loud firecrackers and enthusiastic fans caused Zaya a bit of permanent hearing loss (!!) which I feel so bad about. I was reminded that exactly four years ago I was here in Salvador watching the World Cup as a student in that same Brazilian Cities course, on the eve of meeting Eder in the Department of Sanitation building one month later. How drastically life changes to all the sudden be sitting with your very own Brazilian family, with your Brazilian husband and Brazilian baby watching the Brazilian soccer team beat South Korea.


Back to the visit, the family. It’s been impressive. We have received all these cute little outfits, shoes, thinga-ma-gigs. I’ve received more advice and opinions than I can handle. Today alone 10 people came over to visit. Yesterday was even more. On Sunday, i had no idea that we'd have so many visitors. I counted 35 people who were all together (this includes the 3 families that live in this neighborhood and relatives who came to visit from far). But most of all, all this family means a ton of help for us. An uncle who came over and hung the clothes line, Zaya’s cute Ikea hanging holder, and fixed a leaking faucet, a brother who is always around to hold Zaya or help us get something, Eder’s mother with her ideas for the kitchen shelving, Eder’s brother’s fiancé with her constant attention to Zaya and feeding us Sunday meals, multiple cousins who come to help bath or dress her, his aunt’s insane amount of support – buying the crib, feeding us, getting us stuff we need, his dad paying for almost half of the apartment to be built (he had drastically under-estimated the cost of building here so he helped subsidize the difference). It goes on and on.

Frankly, I know it’s going to be hard to live here with family o

n to

p of us (or in this case, under us – we’re on the 2nd floor). But I think that it will be so worth it, and what a rich experience to be completely integrated into a Brazilian family. And for Zaya, it means that willing arms are in abundance, to rock her to sleep, fold clean laundry, play with her.

In the meantime, since we have settled into the house and since my mom, dad and pete have left, I’ve been able to actually get some good work done on the book Eder and I are hoping to write about street art in Salvador. Our first interview was with Pinel, one of the most prolific taggers in the city. He is part of the Mayor’s project for the salary (and thus, had to convert to doing more graffiti art) but he is a tagger at heart, and continues to tag all over (so much for the Project’s goal of getting rid of tags (known as Pichacao – soft c). The interview was at our house, with Zaya up and down from a rough nap 2-3 times, Maria coming in and the dog Ralphie

(pronounced – Halfie in Portuguese) a bunch of times, and our refrigerator arriving (7 days late – that’s another story) all during the interview. Hmmm… the idea of tagging still perplexes me but it was made clearer after talking to Pinel But there were some very interesting realizations and revelations that I still had from interviewing him… now it’s a matter of summing it up for his one page of the book. He spoke about how hard it was to get through school, that he dropped out of high school… and started tagging ferociously. His name going up everywhere suddenly brought him recognition he never would have had otherwise. It broke the silence, the anonymity, joining the ranks of countless others who don’t make it through school, don’t find a career, end up in a miserable minimum wage job. For Pinel, he wanted to be someone and if society was going to close doors on him, he would find a way to force them open – whether it was illicit of not. He was actually destined for worse vices – selling or doing drugs, robbing like so many of his friends, so many of whom ended up dead already – he was able to rattle off at least 12 names of dead friends. From that perspective, Pinel going out and spraying some buildings pales in comparison. He had a really informed perspective on it, you’d think he had read Naomi Klein’s book Disaster Capitalism. He knew that because he tagged, there’s be work created for people in the government to paint over his tags, work created for the police to arrest the taggers, work for the judges and lawyers and prison guards for their judicial process (Pinel was arrested 14 times for tagging). He even knew he generates jobs for graffiti artists like Eder who are hired by all kinds of folks to put up graffiti in order to stop the taggers from tagging all over their walls. I understood better the connection between taggers and graffiti artists – why they are able to maintain mutual respect – that graffiti artists are out in the street thanks to the taggers, there are so much more appreciated by the public in comparison to the tags. And the pichadores respect the graffiti artists because they have the guts to go out there and tag, because they too are expressing themselves, they are creating a network of communication among themselves.

Ok, I’m going to sign off this blog for now and work on getting it up. I’ve been interrupted something like 5 times writing this short little thing. How will I ever get a book done?

Much love to you all, missing you in these lovely spring months…

I'll leave you with Eder's most recent work....