It is a slow start. The last full day in Rio. So I jump on the Metro and head up town to Centro. The financial hub of Rio. It is a reassuring place. Bustling with city life. High rise life, offices and workers off for lunch. I walk from the Metro station up town to Maison de France where today’s activities will happen. The Rio Metro is a really easy system to negotiate. It is just a pity it doesn’t go to so many places. For today it is perfect. First I need some lunch so Chico recommends Casa Villarino which is 5 minutes away. Bernardo joins me at what is an amzing spot. Casa Villarino is an old literature and Bossa Nova hang-out where the great and the good have chewed the fat for years. It is a beautiful wooden panelled old place. Bernardo and I opt for the same choice. Squid and broccoli rice. Broccoli rice was a gastronomic highlight last year and does not disappoint.
Maison De Farnce is a very lovely venue and after lunch I return to hear Felicia Atkinson’s talk. The talk takes place on the top floor in the new media room. It is not quite ready yet but is really impressive and surrounds us with shelves of books. A small throng of Monday Novas Frequencias fans gather. Felicia is a delightful person and her practice encompasses the whole gambit of artforms. She has been in residency at Tunga’s studio and has been responding to this space and Tunga’s work. It is really refreshing to hear that she really does not know what might happen at her performance and how the residency will affect her responce to her own music.
Back to Flamengo where I grab a cake and a coffee and ponder this Rio trip.
“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human traouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death – ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.” James Baldwin – The Fire Next Time
The evening’s performances are an interesting combination of the art of DIY instruments and things. There is a long history in Brazil especially from Bahia of constructing instruments. Chico explains some of this to me. I can’t remember the names of everyone but in the 1940s a Swiss teacher began this here in Brazil (I may be wrong here). I am aware of the great Tom Ze’s inventions and music. One of my favourites actually. So Marcos Scarassatti is part of this long history. His instruments are amazing and his set is a fascinating and intricate construction. Pierre Bastien follows with his meccano like constructions crunching out clockwork rhythms while he accommpanies on his pocket trumpet squealing and hissing through affects and sometimes breaking into the bluesy soul of old Miles. At one point when a projection of gospel singers joins the sound I am reminded of those few tracks that Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong made way back then.
This research trip was kindly supported by: