BRAZIL

Living on the edge in Sao Paulo

Photo by . Brazilian media can’t decide whether these graffiti are the work of artists or of delinquents. But for their authors, “pichaçao” is all about living dangerously. Read more and view the photos…

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Photo posted on Flickr by Choque.

Brazilian media can’t decide whether these graffiti are the work of artists or of delinquents. But for their authors, “pichaçao” is all about living dangerously.

Pichador comes from the Portuguese verb pichar, which means to apply “piche” (tar), but also to criticise harshly. Most pichadores come from the poor favelas of Sao Paulo. They paint characters from the runic alphabet (a writing system of uncertain origin used by Germanic peoples of northern Europe from about the 3rd century to the 17th century, exclusively in black), and their purpose is to challenge Brazilian society.

Pichadores tend to strike in the early hours of the morning. Armed with paint sprays, they strive to leave their mark as high as possible on the façades of houses, buildings or any urban structure. The less accessible a pichaçao is, the more it is valued. Pichadores say the reason they risk their lives is to rattle a society that treats them as outcasts. But for Brazil’s popular and conservative channel TV Globo, they are little more than vandals.

 

Posted on YouTube by CriptaDjan.

Pichadores storm Sao Paulo's contermporary art festival

In September 2008, pichadores even made a front-page appearance on Brazilian dailies after they stormed and tagged the show rooms of Sao Paulo’s contemporary art festival. They said they were protesting against a shift towards a commercial and standardised form of urban art. The artist, critic and exhibition commissioner Ricardo Basbaum, who witnessed the event, later told the local daily O Estado de Sao Paulo: “The festival has to learn to live with this. It’s a raw form of expression. Personally, I think it’s ugly, but it’s also part of society; and a festival such as ours must be open to society.”

 

Vided posted on YouTube by LissMorila

 

Pichaçao in pictures

Photos posted on Flickr by Choque.

'It’s a way of saying: "Hey, society, look at me – I’m here, I exist!"'

Sergio Massucci, a writer and former pichador, works in the advertising business in Sao Paulo.

The pichaçao movement was born in Sao Paulo’s favelas at the start of the 80s. It soon spread to the young, urban middle classes who found in pichaçao a way to express their discontent by spoiling the urban environment.

At the start, they were mostly fans of heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Slayer. Their first logos were inspired by these bands’ typography. Pichadors are interested in performing a rebellious act, and not in its content. It’s a way of saying: ‘Hey, society, look at me – I’m here, I exist! The aim is to disturb and shock. They don’t care whether or not people see it as a form of art. They leave this debate to intellectuals locked up in their university campuses. Society’s concept of beauty has no place in their neighbourhoods. When they set out to pichar, it’s as though they were saying: now it’s your turn to take in all that I had to swallow during my childhood.