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Atelier Azulejaria: Correspondências Cariocas – O Rio em 450 azulejos (Rio in 450 tiles)

During the 450th anniversary of the City of Rio de Janeiro, between March 1st 2015 and March 1st 2016, a project conceived and created by Atelier Azulejaria, designed a ceramic mural consisting of 450 tiles, individually created by the children of Maré neighbourhood.

The project has involved forty-five students between 7 and 15 years old, coordinated by artist / educator Laura Taves, director of Atelier Azulejaria, with educators Marcia Queiroz and Luciene Vieira, developed at weekly workshops. The images were inspired by works of literature, poetry and music – the scenery and the characters of the city – and especially the life experience of each participant.

The Correspondências Cariocas mural panel will be permanently displayed in a public space in the neighbourhood, and was unveiled on Saturday, April 30th 2016 at Rua Sargento Silva Nunes, 603, Rio de Janeiro, the home of 70 year old Dona Severina, a resident of the Nova Holanda neighbourhood for over fifty years.

The mural will provide an overview of what is in the city of Rio today. What has brought us here? Who are we? Where are we going? The city meets the city, and in this process, the critical analysis and proposals by the children of Maré unfold.

In addition to the ceramic mural, the project included two postcard making workshops open to the public, which took place at the Maré Arts Centre. Participants created their own postcards inspired by the theme of the mural, and posted them, decorated with a commemorative stamp that they designed especially. The students chose their favourite tiles and turned these into postcards, which were mailed around the world.

As Oficinas – The Workshops

Guanabara Bay is an oceanic bay located in the state of Rio de Janeiro; it has a wide mouth flanked at the western tip by the Sugar Loaf; in Tupi (Indian language) guanabara means ‘the bosom of sea’.

As part of the 2015 workshops, artists, illustrators, photographers, designers and poets, as well as students and volunteer artists, joined the group in order to expand the experience and assist the students on their artistic expressions.

The historian, Guto Nobre, talked passionately about the history of the city with illustrated lectures and guided tours; designer, João Rivera, made humorous papier-machê masks inspired by the fauna and flora of Rio; photographer, Tatiana Altberg, created a pin-hole camera project; Mão na Lata, looked poetically at the subject of homes and living spaces; the Portuguese artist, António Jorge Gonçalves, presented his work and creative process through his illustrations, books and texts; the Common North collective made workshops featuring narratives, memories and curious aspects of the city; and readings of the poetry of Pedro Rocha and Amora Pera with words of delight and enchantment about the city. 

Distinguished visitors included, Aceu, a native Brasilian Indian, who presented his Una Isi Kayawa – Book of Healing, a pioneering book, which brings together deep knowledge of plants and medicinal practices of the Uni Kuin or Kaxinawa, the largest indigenous population living near the Jordan River, in the Amazon Forest.

On the walls of the classroom the students designed a timeline with information and illustrations from 1502, when the Portuguese first entered Guanabara Bay, and pre-1502, with drawings of native Indians of the Bay as “before the Brazilians, the Indians were already here”.

During the workshops, hundreds of tiles were designed and selected for the panel construction – and some were turned into postcards.

Os Cartões-Postais – The Postcards

Postcards, photographs, drawings and reproductions of works of art as well as books and engravings, were used as a reference in the workshops. It is an interesting sign of our times that, while students used the images on postcards to inspire drawings and paintings, they did not know that the main purpose of postcards was to post through the mail. Although everyone knew that in a few seconds we can photograph, record, write and send images and messages to anyone, anywhere in the world – and instantly receive messages back.

The painting of ceramic tiles to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Rio questioned the infinite amount of information about the city that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. What city is this? Is it the city of Emilly, Nicole, Andrey, Rafaela, Laís or Bruno, for example. How is it different from the town of Max, Nelson, Caio, Mila, Sonia, Freya or Madeleine. Where do these people live? What do they like? Have they ever been to Rio?

Each student pointed at a city, a speck on the globe, where they would like to go. Then they chose their favourite tiles – which contained a small part of their own city of Rio – and made it into a postcard. They sent a message including everything they would like to say about themselves, and full of curiousity, asking questions about things they wanted to know. Depending on the destination, the card was written in Portuguese or translated into English or French. And finally, they chose the stamps to decorate the postcard.

On December 12th, 2015, the students visited the headquarters of the Post Office, in the historical centre of Rio, and sent cards to Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, England, France, Spain, Turkey, USA and even Tanzania.

Some have already reached their destinations and are traveling back to Rio. The postcards will arrive at a mailbox, as Maré is considered by the Post Office services a ‘conflict zone’, which does not guarantee the delivery of the cards in the neighbourhood.

The students are excited at the prospect of new adventures, as the cards have corresponded with people around the globe, sending the city of Rio out into the world, and making new connections for the future. 

It is still possible to write to the students of the Maré and the Correspondências Cariocas project.

They would like you tell us who you are, what you like, where you come from, and we will receive it with joy!”

rio de janeiro postcard
Send postcards to:

(child’s name),  A/C Laura Taves, Caixa Postal 542, Rio de Janeiro / RJ, CEP: 20.010-974

The project is an initiative of Atelier Azulejaria and Redes de Desenvolvimento da Maré, Rio de Janeiro.

http://www.azulejaria.net/mare   Atelier Azulejaria-pM

About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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