we are at the top of the louvre building’s twenty-five floors, above são luís avenue, são paulo. a group of older women share the rooftop’s aridity with us. small potted trees dot the terrace. from here we have an open, almost aerial view of the smoggy city. we sit by the pool, under the modernist roof that forks, mirroring two undulating paths. we discuss proto-modernism, the stumblings in tarkovski, the construction of a bell, the bell of the consolação church, whose tolls, for a month, were exchanged for an ave maria. it is the beginning of the history of this coliseum which is composed by the back sides of the façades, not only of the louvre, but also of the copan and são luiz plaza building, which together enclose the only vacant lot within a radius of i-don’t-know-how-many central kilometers of the city of são paulo. the lot was a parking lot a few years ago. one day it became a construction site of deafening noise. daily digging down the size of six basements, dredging up money from below. the work never became more than a hole. one day it stopped, they covered everything. the overgrowth-grass became a vacant lot again.
we move on, strolling along this high elevation. from here we can see the serra da cantareira, the consolação church, we see são paulo and its quotation marks. We see the back side of the copan, a beehive of squares. in one of them a woman, her naked breasts, wavy hair, a venus, behind her, lying on the bed, a slender young guy, also nude. in another niche of the hive two men, getting their hair cut. the copan is a vulva in the phallic landscape of são paulo’s buildings. we descend to the garage. four stories of parking. there are elevators for cars. we descend and ascend stairs connecting the garages. different smells alternate. suddenly an old, decades-old smell. a resident adjusts the engine of his beetle. through a crack in the window you can see the garden that mr. jaime, a louvre’s employee, has been improvising for years with the plants that people abandon when they move out. we then arrive at the foot of the back of the blue and pink building, where there is a low terrace that is a non-place. nobody goes there. no one comes here, but this is the coliseum loge, where the lonely reader of novels, maria aparecida, lives at the apartment number 615. nothing ever happened here, thank god, water accumulates, it’s dangerous.
an event turns things around, the sinister scene of the realtor placing a chair beneath a work of art hanging from the ceiling. the artwork had been there for a week, inadvertently, at the exact angle of his vision. his great irritation. he takes down a removable part of the work, a seam of cloth and latex. he brings it to the bathroom, where he stays for close to fifteen minutes. fifteen minutes. when he leaves the bathroom, the work is no longer in his hands. his great desire. later he claims it was all a misunderstanding. some say that the work later came to valorize what is now a shoe store in the building. we arrive at casa 1, a place in the form of a yes, a place in the form of welcome, in the form of love for bodies, people, existences negated by the normal. a cultural center in the broadest sense of culture. bed. food. psycho-social care. art studio. multi-use space. preparatory course for the national college entry exams. english classes. sewing. singing. dancing. make-up. all for free. casa 1 receives lives diminished by prejudice and restores their ontological potency, increasing their factor of existence in the world.
let me tell you a story, i was sitting in front of the theater where we were rehearsing when one of the actors left, silently walked to the corner. in the play he was a whale that loses his glasses watching cars pass by, i went after him, i sat down next to him, he got up, i followed him and when i reached him he looked at me and said, i really like walking, i go on long walks, but one day i got lost and my mother had to call the police, they found me and took me home.
we’ve arrived at the morinhos site. a center of sensory archeology. an avocado tree and a jaboticaba tree, the largest i’ve ever seen, from the 19th century! the whole past in two thousand and eighteen. more than sixty archaeological sites in the city of são paulo alone. at the morumbi site, in the sixties, artifacts from five thousand, six hundred years ago were found, an entire lithic workshop within a boulder. carijós. guainás. tupi-guaranis. a nine-thousand-year-old tambaqui in the ribeira valley. there is a skeleton on rebouças, sapopemba, anhanguera. roads that are today superimposed over trails that had long existed. funerary urns everywhere. in belenzinho, they went to make a cemetery, only to find that there already was one. there is an archaeological site beneath sesc pinheiros. in brás, in one thousand eight hundred and ninety-six they found a funeral urn still containing human remains. the urns are beautiful, to start with they have a round shape. in the largo da batata, an entire village bursting with peabirus. from cusco to são paulo on the “trodden path.” the tupiniquin trail crossed the anhangabaú valley and followed the route that today courses down consolação and rebouças avenues, eventually crossing the pinheiros river. an encounter with the ground. archeology of the diaspora. a mandinga in the plantation house. what is the impact of an avenue? what will archaeologists find of our remains in two hundred and fifty years? homeless people? bixiga is a quilombo, liberdade is a quilombo.
meanwhile, in jardim panorama, neusa is fifty years old and lives on a lot that is worth much more than three hundred thousand. for over a decade, she has been cooking for the castle’s employees, who have nowhere to eat there. her parrot calls everyone a son of a bitch and despite the gaza strip, neusa’s house is the safest place in são paulo. i caught hell in the mailbox, says the lyrics, lyrics are prayers, they translate the misery of the situation. shape is the last thing. color is light. light is color. color is three equal to black and light is three equal to white. what are the colors of the day? what are colors of your character? of your scene? oblique purple? peaceful green? vibrant red? let’s go conquer coincidences.
and later a party, seeing the city dawn blue and pink lights, discovering that, in this post-election failure, my color is yellow. pessimism, optimism, party, delirium, survival ritual, it’s not escape, it’s the verso, it is relief from history. a closed gate? we jump it. and relive an experiment from the seventies with three basic rules: first, without a plan, without an end; second, in silence; third, complete freedom of editing and modification. it has no name, assorted materials, it is a territory, a construction, a collective creation in the silence that is the union of all languages, and look at what we have built, i never imagined – a penetrable! that we take to the square where people sleep, where they lie down. then a kite workshop, that’s usually the tone, it’s grandma’s house, and grandma is a faggot.
a five-pointed square. four women walk beneath a wooden board that they hold atop their heads. on the board a speaker, a neo andor. they walk at the same pace, a micro social machine. morality in the eye of the beholder. their bodies, their proportions, their gate, in systemic inseparability. the compass rose is the ground. our common place. brazilian music in chronological order. they form a kind of house that, naturally, shelters those without shelter. a man holding balloons inhabits the wandering house for some time. a crazy means of transportation. we are at the viaduto do chá. when we arrive at the municipal theater, we are already immersed in the funk from the end of the ‘10s. some people, moved by the sound, dance while waiting for the crossing signal. a slender woman in a blue dress and a belly of maybe seven months or more is the new resident of the house. quite different from the last tenant, she is all out, a properly public woman, who swallows us all. when she’s had enough, she exits the house and enters a pharmacy with her friend. it’s already nighttime.
This text was originally published in the book reds (museu do louvre pau-brazyl, 2020) and revised in June, 2021.