Notorious slum becomes an art gallery

Notorious slum becomes an art gallery - good idea or publicity stunt?

It would be interesting to see what people think about this article that in Rio de Janeiro one of the most notorious shantytowns in the city, Vila Cruzeiro, has been transformed into an open-air art gallery. Dutch artists have used what the author calls "crumbling shacks" to work with residents to create giant murals. Much is made about the area's history of crime and local drug warfare juxtaposed against the 'civilising' effects of the art, will it act as an inspiration for local teenagers?,,2009351,00.html


I guess it depends whether this project is the start of something, or a 'one-off'. And it depends on who it's for. If it's a means by which to create a tourist attraction out of other people's poverty and misery, then it's misguided. And without proper, ongoing support, no amount of 'art' is going to provide sufficient opportunities for residents to escape the cycle of drugs, crime, violence and poverty, nor make tangible improvements for the future, even if it does (temporarily) improve their environment. The problems here go a bit deeper than that. Smacks of 'improvement', rather than anything really beneficial. But then again, the article is probably just a superficial account of the project, so who can say?
Ceri said…
I think its right to question the power of art to effect social change. I read this article last week which desired to combat the assumption that bad housing leads to crime and disorder, this attempt to 'prettify' the slums seems to tap into that for me. The idea that nice surroundings leads to nice people. The author of the article (which terribly for a PhD student I cannot remember!) was saying that even though conditions for example have been improved in places like Peckham in London, with many tower blocks thought to cause social disorder, replaced with low level housing, still the crime is happening. I think it reminds us that we must question these easily made assumptions for the world is far more complex as you rightly say :)

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