Nostalgia That’s Not Mine

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Credit: Sonia D’Almeida

Nivea has been doing a concert series every year where they have a popular artist pay tribute to the great Brazilian artists and give free shows around the country. This year, Ivete Sangalo (who I’ve written about before) and hip hop artist Criolo teamed up to cover soul legend Tim Maia.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve come to learn about Tim Maia. He’s a difficult figure to miss — his music is ubiquitous in commercials, radio, weekend barbecues, other artists’ set lists. Just like every American knows at least a couple of Michael Jackson songs, every Brazilian can sing a few of Tim Maia’s hits.

He’s an artist with an interesting history. (Wax Poetics published an extensive piece on him a few years back.) He was a rather intense, hard-partying musician who brought black American soul music to Brazil after traveling to the U.S. One of my favorite songs of his, Bom Senso, I thought was a deeply motivating song about the struggles he had faced and overcome until I discovered later he wrote it while immersed in a cult. I realized that in the voiceover parts, which I had previously ignored, he was telling the listener to read Universo em Desencanto, the cult’s holy book. (Fun fact: he sent out copies  to a number of famous musicians. John Lennon wrote him back: “Dear freak, I don’t understand Portuguese. What about LISTEN to this photo?” and enclosed a naked picture of himself.)

Going back to the concert, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of songs I recognized. The crowd was huge (nearing 180 thousand) and the energy from both the people and band was infectious. However as Criolo started a song and a woman gasped, “Aiii!” with delight and shock that he would dare attempt this musical gem (unfamiliar to me), I realized a disconnect I had from the rest. While for the Brazilian crowd, which ranged from old to young, this music made up the soundtrack of their culture, this was relatively new music for me. As much as I can sing every song, read up on the references, go down the YouTube rabbit hole with old videos,  it’s not going to resonate with me the way it will with others. It’s simply not a part of my cultural history. The music you hear growing up, whether you enjoy it or not, has a special significance that later music doesn’t. It’s linked to memories, your formative years, and it will always sound different than something you discovered as an adult.

Don’t get me wrong, I had an incredible time at the show. I simply realized that permeating another culture only goes so far. Although we all squealed like children when the fireworks went off in the end.

 

Five São Paulo Instagram Accounts to Follow

I know they say social media makes us less happy, but I have to argue that my Instagram lifts my mood. My aim is to post a photo a day of something interesting I see during my day. Sometimes I have days where I post nothing, sometimes I have the urge to post twenty photos, but I try to limit myself to one because I like the idea of picking a single image to sum up the day. This project has made me more mindful of my surroundings. Even though I do the same route most days, I find that sometimes just looking upwards leads to a new discovery.

The early bird gets the worm. #maritacas #vilaolimpia #saopaulocolorida #saopaulo #architecture

A photo posted by @tropicalsmog on

 

I also love getting inspiration from other accounts on Instagram. Here’s a few of my favorite SP-centered ones:

1. Calçada SP
Calçada is full of well, calçadas, or sidewalks, featuring interesting details, odd trash or classic Portuguese tiles. The account is an interesting project with the goal of strengthening the citizen’s relationship with the physical city, as well as drawing attention to the rather neglected and haphazard state of São Paulo’s sidewalks. (I used to be frustrated that my photos were coming out crooked until I realized it was the sidewalk that was uneven.)

 

2. kato78
I’m not really sure how to describe K’s Instagram other than its good. He sometimes does straightforward shots, he sometimes uses unusual angles, but he always takes into consideration the geometry of the subject. They may be shots of landscapes, animals, food or buildings, but they’re always pleasing to the eye.

🍌 yes, nós temos bananas… 🍌 #VSCOcam

A photo posted by k. (@kato78) on

 

3. Estilosos no Metrô
It’s a fashion Instagram, but not your typical slick photos of curated outfits provided by sponsors. Instead, creator Natália Nascimento snaps photos with her phone of a variety of people on the metro who are stylish in their own way. It’s refreshing, upbeat and fun.

 

4. SP em Cores
Photographer Marina Baravelli disproves the myth that São Paulo is a gray city with her colorful photos that are usually rather simple. It’s interesting to look at her main page to see her rainbow of photos.

top models em um mundo paralelo 🌿 #spemcores_rosa

A photo posted by SP EM CORES (@spemcores) on

 

5. dearaujo
Architect Décio Araújo manipulates images of landscapes, nature and buildings to create surreal portraits of São Paulo. He told Instagram’s blog, “I try to capture the city in unusual ways so that people might become more critical of the spaces in which they live.”

g a i o l a d e c o n c r e t o • XIV

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀décio araújo (@dearaujo) on

 

And while he’s based in Belo Horizonte, I want to mention Rafael Mantesso and his funny dog Jimmy Choo. Since he went viral last year, he’s become tremendously popular and even collaborated with the brand Jimmy Choo on a line of accessories. He’s one of the few I go out of my way to check for updates because his images are all so simple and delightful.

A photo posted by @rafaelmantesso on

 

If you know of any other great Brazilian Instagrammers, please let me know!

Curated Graffiti

One of my favorite things about living in São Paulo is not just being surrounded by street art, but being able to recognize different artists. They may not have famous names, but so many have instantly recognizable styles.

Recently some of these artists had their work displayed indoors for a change at the 3rd Bienal Internacional Graffiti Fine Art, which featured both Brazilian and international artists. In the past, I’ve tried to make sure people stayed out of my shots, but this time I felt like the viewers were sort of necessary to accurately depict the experience. (Philosophical question: If a piece of art is displayed but no one sees it, is it still art?)

jjj

Artist: Enivo (São Paulo)

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Artist: Tinho (São Paulo)

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AMARRADO. Amar ERRADO. AMAR é Mar

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Artist: Julio Barreto (São Paulo)

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Artist: Gen Duarte (São Paulo)

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Artist: Simone Sapienza Siss (São Paulo)

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Artist: Cusco Rebel (Porto Alegre)

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Artist: Alexandre Keto (São Paulo)

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Artist: Daniel Marceli (Chiloé, Chile)

Artist: Zumi

Artist: Marina Zumi (Buenos Aires)

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Artist: Mundano (São Paulo)

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Artist: Atsuo Nakagawa

Artist: Atsuo Nakagawa (Osaka)

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Artist: Bugre (São Paulo)

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Artist: Leiga (São Paulo)

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Artist: Derlon (Pernambuco)

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Artist: Fhero (São Paulo)

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Artists: Alexandre Keto (São Paulo) & Dalata (Belo Horizonte)

 

More works and closeup details on my Tumblr.