Graffiti offers structure for Brazilian youth

August 2009 -

"Graffiti artists in Brazil take the time to make special works of art, usually with a social or political message. That is why we are organizing a life-size open air exposition within the framework of Brazil Rotterdam: R.U.A. - Reflexo o Urban Art - lines, colours and forms on Contemporary Brazilian Street Art ", says Anouk Piket of Caramundo, a young Dutch ngo that supports cultural grassroots initiatives in Latin America.

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Stile and Yusk at work in Rotterdam.

"Caramundo invited ten Brazilian graffiti artists to make life-size works of art in Rotterdam. In doing so, more emphasis is placed on the positive aspects of street graffiti: aspects to which often little attention is devoted in the Netherlands. Graffiti can revitalize impoverished parts of a city and turn these into meeting points. This is now often the case in the favelas, the shanty towns of many large Brazilian cities, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro."

GAIS and Stile, two Brazilian graffiti artists who were invited, are connected with the Projeto Queto through Nação, a graffiti crew in Rio de Janeiro. It was for this reason that graffiti artist Francisco da Silva of Nação approached Caramundo in 2006 about a cultural project in Morro do Queto / Sampaio, to give the favela a positive impulse. Now, three years later, Moro do Queto has its own cultural centre where a variety of artistic workshops are organized, including on graffiti.

"Art and culture are scarcely available in Brazil's favelas. The only pastimes available to the youth is their Baile Funk in the weekend or TV Globo with its endless soap series. With art we hope to inspire the youth to learn more and read more: to discover what life has to offer outside of their day-to-day existence. Along with other activities, graffiti helps to establish discipline and structure. The participants not only learn about graffiti techniques, but also come into contact with art, culture and language. Letters are important in graffiti, which means that reading and writing are also addressed in the workshops. Stile, for example, only uses letters in his graffiti, as a result of which other graffiti artists - even those in other countries - come to him for answers to their questions," says Piket.

Projeto Queto is supported by NCDO Building Bridges.