Weird scenes inside the streets and favelas of a South American city

    ART: A dreamlike celebration of street art and protest in the heart of Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s 6th largest city.

    Skin opens as it intends to continue – in a dreamlike stream of consciousness, allowing the images of a Brazilian city’s graffiti and street art float by, an ever-present background to the flow of daily urban life.

    On a sidewalk below a colourful mural, a young woman slowly and elegantly performs a series of yoga asanas – the dog, the salute to the sun, the serpent – as cars and people pass by, oblivious to both her and the artwork.

    The film flows on with the traffic, taking its viewers on an odyssey of art and culture, gender and identity, toxic masculinity and positive femininity, race and sex, politics, and protest.

    Skin, a film by Marcos Pimentel
    Skin, a film by Marcos Pimentel

    Gentle tide

    Within minutes one is washed away on a gentle tide of emotion and association. For the meditatively inclined, the images become as the beat of a metronome, deepening and soothing the currents of the mind, transporting one in the manner of Terence Malik’s movie The Tree of Life.

    There is some kind of logic – we move from images of eyes, women – clothed and naked, abundant breasts, through slogans, religion, politics, and various balances of power (or rather imbalances.)

    The rich will have no peace while the poor suffer injustice…

    Housing is a human right…

    The favelas [slums] live!

    Jesus will come in 2070….

    The images move from the sublime to the ridiculous, the obscure to the profane.

    Thomas Pynchon’s strange mystical novel, The Crying of Lot 49 – read so many years ago as a university student and fundamentally misunderstood – comes to mind and is revealed in its deep intelligence on this journey into the subterranean depth of the human heart.

    Within minutes one is washed away on a gentle tide of emotion and association.

    The most raw

    A message on a bare concrete wall offers Black meat for sale – call 911. For a moment, one is confused – is this the Brazilian urban equivalent of an escort’s calling card left in a European city’s public phone booth? No…. the subsequent series of images underline the degree to which the anger and frustration of the Brazilian underclass against Bolsonaro’s military-#police state#, and its war on the poor, is expressed through slogans, graffiti, and art.

    Some of these images and messages are redolent of England’s (Bristol) based urban artist Banksy. Others are unique to Brazilian culture.

    This is art at its most raw – and . . .

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    Nick Holdsworth
    Our regular critic. Journalist, writer, author. Works mostly from Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
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