Condo living is governed by a series of bureaucratic measures that regulate the sharing of space. These include national laws and civil codes, beginning with Law number 4,591, dating to December 16, 1964, sanctioned into effect by General Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco. Each condominium also has its own set of regulations, including the “Condominium Convention,” which addresses residents’ rights and condo board structuring, and the “Regimento Interno,” or internal “regiment,” which oversees coexistence within the condominium. These specific regulations must be based on and supported by national law.
The museu do louvre pau-brazyl took place in the residential condominium environment of the Louvre building, grappling with its internal bureaucracy—which organizes the lives of more than 600 people living in approximately 300 apartments, as well as a staff of 60 employees—over the course of the project’s five years. The building, represented by its administration, has always been willing to dialogue with the museu, generously making possible a project that delved into both the building’s physical space as well as perceptions of it.
However, two objects found on the Louvre’s ground floor and mezzanine conflict with the otherwise permeable and fluid nature of this environment: framed copies of the “Principal Articles of the Internal Regiment (Regulation),” hanging from the marble walls of the central entryway to the condominium’s Pedro Américo block. This document dates to October 1987 and evokes the 1964 Law as well as Law number 6,434, from 1977, sanctioned by General Ernesto Geisel—very technical legislation on such topics as accounting, garages, and gatherings, but that is also symbolically loaded with the long shadow of the military dictatorship. Two particularly noteworthy directives include number 2: “All [residents] must ensure the good reputation of their building,” and number 22: “The building manager and any member of the administration may prohibit entrance to the building of poorly dressed, suspicious, or immoral people, anyone carrying infectious or contagious diseases, or those they so deem convenient for the sake of reputation, morals, and good customs.”
This Regulation dating from two years after the military dictatorship’s official end, carries with it notions of the heteronormative family that marched “with God for freedom,” oppressive of other structures considered “deviant.” Its regulations unite a series of assumptions, projects, and control mechanisms for the Louvre’s residents, which, despite their illegality under Brazil’s 1988 Constitution and the 1996 revised Condominium Law, remain—typewritten on aging, yellowed paper, reinforcing the regiment’s character as an historical document, bearing witness to the violence of a past era with an insistent presence.
The document also recalls the historical decadence of São Paulo’s downtown core, in confluence with the region’s transformation into a prominent zone of LGBTQIA+ cruising and pleasure, as well as measures implemented to prevent the Louvre from undergoing the process of decline experienced by neighboring buildings, such as the Copan, with regard to guaranteeing its owners the maintenance of “internal order.” In addition to implementing the Regulation the building’s administration asked its architect, Artacho Jurado, to construct a guardhouse, not included in the original project, in order to control entrance to the building, as well as grates, so to surround the condominium—at least outside of business hours—and ensure the safety of residents and stores located on the ground floor and mezzanine.
Catalan artist Enric Farres Durán, who has carried out extensive research on the topic of archives, documents, and libraries, first came into contact with the Regulation in 2017, when he removed the original document from its frame, photocopied it, and placed the copy in the frame, in a gesture of subversion.
Durán later began to work with subtle insertions and removals of letters and words, such as the letter “i” in “regulamiento,” which signals the cultural differences between the document and its manipulator, contrasting the original Portuguese with one of the artist’s languages, and creating frictions of meaning beginning with the title. A subliminal message occurs in “–miento,” [“I lie”] which underlines the farcical nature of the work. With humor and irony, the regulations of co-habitation that upon their creation only made sense under a dictatorship, allowing for authoritarian control over the lives of others, begin to make sense only within a fictional and delusional logic—revealing, little by little, the absurdity of its terms.
In addition to altering the regulations, exposing their absurdities, and updating the document’s date, the work also invites the administration to participate: two new copies were printed and mailed to the building with the hope that finally, in 2021, this document, permeated with the violence of history, would be replaced by a work of art that, instead of simply erasing such regulations, recalls, warps, and denies the meaning of these and other normalizing forces of life and coexistence.