Category Archives: Culture

Brazilian Babel

Baré indians in the Cuieiras river, in the Amazon/photo by Daniel Zanini

by Sylvia Estrella*

You may be under the impression – like most people – that Portuguese is the only language spoken in Brazil. In fact, 0.5% of the population (around 750,000 people) are native speakers of 200 other languages, including the indigenous ones.
According to Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), a non-profit that has the best statistics on the country’s native population, the 225 remaining Brazilian ethnic groups speak 180 different languages. A few Native groups abandoned their original languages and embraced other languages, such as Portuguese and French Creole (spoken in neighboring French Guyana).
Some of the Native languages remain relatively strong and are spoken by over 20,000 people. On the other hand, some are vanishing and are used by less than a couple dozen individuals. Continue reading Brazilian Babel

Brasília, half a century later

Photo by João Vicente/Flickr
Photo by João Vicente/Flickr

The most graphic city in the world becomes middle aged today. Fifty years later,  Brasília’s curves, ramps, wide avenues and huge open spaces keep their freshness.

Conceived by architect Oscar Niemeyer and urbanist Lúcio Costa to host the Brazilian federal government, Brasília was custom made to fulfill president Juscelino Kubitschek’s utopia. He dreamed of a modernist city right in the middle of the country, many hundreds of kilometers away from the coast and any major city. It was meant to integrate and develop areas that were scarcely occupied and also to remove the high bureaucracy from Rio, the former capital, a city full of distractions.

To Brasília converge not only all the power, but also all of those prone to mysticism. Many believe the city has a special energy, whatever that means. This legend began with Dom Bosco, the Italian saint that founded the Salesian order in the 19th century.  In a vision, he saw a promised land of immense riches that would be the epicenter of a new civilization. It would be built in the next four generations and would be roughly located where Brasília was established. Many Brasilienses believe the capital materializes that vision.

Several esoteric groups congregate in the capital. The most famous is Vale do Amanhecer (Dawn Valley), that believes that we descend from extraterrestrials that colonized the planet 32,000 years ago. These revelations were made by the group’s main founder, known as Tia Neiva, who believed she was the reincarnation of Cleopatra and Nefertiti. Vale do Amanhecer mixes spiritualism, Christian concepts, plus African, Mayan and Roma traditions.

In the following video, a cool summary of the pioneering years of this very peculiar city:

Art Gallery

A collective exposition of the best of Brazilian art, from baroque sculptures to graffiti, from naïf to Modernist. The images lead to the artist individual expo.

War Anatomy
“War Anatomy”/ Flavio Shiró
"Meteor"/Bruno Giorgi
“Meteor”/Bruno Giorgi
"Bororo Indian"/Hercules Florence
“Bororo Indian”/Hercules Florence
"Inocência"/Eliseu Visconti
“Inocência”/Eliseu Visconti
"Self Portrait"/Tarsila do Amaral
“Self Portrait”/Tarsila do Amaral
"Presentation Mantle"/ Arthur Bispo do Rosário
“Presentation Mantle”/ Arthur Bispo do Rosário
Favela chair"/Campana Brothers
Favela chair”/Campana Brothers
"Red room" / Cildo Meirelles
“Red room” / Cildo Meirelles
“Navio de Emigrantes”/Lasar Segall
Alex Vallauri
“Carpet-style Tilework in Live Flesh”/Adriana Varejão
“Abigail”/ Di Cavalcanti
“O Derrubador Brasileiro”/Almeida Júnior
“Graça”/Victor Brecheret
“Lampião”/Mestre Vitalino