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15 September 2013

Deep thoughts on Brazil, romance, aspiration & buying stuff

Enjoy this portrait of Havan, the Brazilian big box chain. It was made by my friend Nadia Sussman for the New York Times. Take this video portrait of Brazilians romanticizing American iconography as a perfect intro to a set of pictures about one American’s romantic notions about Brazil reshaped by a visit to the actual place. (Mine.) I was there in April. It was interesting.

Here’s a direct link to the NYT vid if you have issues with the embed.

The typical notion of Brazilians, beautiful and free, was in evidence in Rio’s nightlife center Lapa. Unfortunately she was dancing beautiful and free to some horrible third (or fourth? or fifth?) wave jam rock with an electronic undercurrent at a teenage bar.

Poverty and sensuality exist side-by-side outside of Bar do Mineiro, a typical but well regarded boteco restaurant in the heart of Rio’s Santa Teresa neighborhood.

As the NYT’s Havan portrait proves, everywhere you go, people like to buy shit. I found this spread of kiddy shoes at the pretty fabulous Galeria do Rock in São Paulo. Though its offerings revolved around a fetishization of American pop culture, the only place in the States that compares (in my experience) is a Southern California swap meet I once visited with Kool Keith. (In LA, however, the Brazilian mall’s focus on rock culture was transposed to a focus on hip-hop.) If anything, the mall in São Paulo was more reminiscent of the pop culture shops of Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood — an interest in American culture abstracted and turned clinical in a way that has more to do with stamp collecting, MTV’s youth culture opportunism, or the Home Shopping Network than it does the vital art often pulsing behind the salable iconography created to market said art.

Finally, the truth of the matter, another shot from a nightclub in Lapa, where the technology seemed to lag at about the same distance as the nostalgia which informed Brazil’s picture of America. The sound system is driven by an IBM computer running a screensaver based on the logo for Atari, a games manufacturer whose fortunes peaked in the ’80s.

Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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