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“Meeting Of Favela” and a Thousand Artists in Rio : Martha Cooper Dispatch

Posted on January 11, 2017

Rio is hot in December. When you add a thousand artists to the favela it gets a lot hotter.

Aquilas Mano Costa from Rio De Janeiro. Mr. Costa a community coordinator and a tattoo artist displays his Meeting Of Favela tattoo. Aquilas is a member of the Costa family which was the host family of Ms. Cooper and other guests durin MOF. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)


The 10th Meeting of Favela (MOF) is a homegrown Graffiti and Urban Art mural festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that has happened every November/December with more than hundreds of national and international artists. To give you an idea of scale, some estimates of the number of artists who flock here number well past a thousand and include participants from the Americas and Europe in addition to Brazilians.

Even though the huge multi-day event contains many of the familiar signposts of other Urban and Graffiti Art Festivals; live hip hop music performances, MCs, DJS, live B-boying (breakdancing), theatrical and circus elements, for example, the organizers of MOF take pride that they are the considered by many as the largest voluntary Urban Art event in the world.

Pixador JJ from Rio De Janeiro. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

There are other significant differences, according to long time documentor of this global street scene, photographer and living urban art icon Martha Cooper, who says that she had been to Sao Paulo a number of times but never to Rio despite hearing of Meeting of Favela many times over the last few years.

“Unlike most Street Art festivals,” Cooper tells us, “MOF is open to all artists to paint.” This alone is a departure from the increasingly curated and selective Street Art festivals that are held in many cities today. Additionally, the wall allocation is more organic and inclusive of a social contract between residents and artists – an important and very significant rule, says Ms. Cooper.

Conebo from Rio De Janeiro. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

“Artists must find their own walls,” she says. “This means they must walk around the favela and interact with the residents to get their permission before starting to paint. Some artists have established relationships with owners and return every year to paint the same wall. Other residents recruit artists and ask them to paint something special, such as a portrait.”

What about supplies? “Artists must supply their own paint – however MOF organizers often arrange to have discounted paint available on site.”

Bixcoito from Rio De Janeiro. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Modeled loosely after the popular and global “Meeting of Styles” graffiti events, this one intends to be more inclusive and engaged with the community. You can see that it is primarily a graffiti event but there are influences from what is more commonly considered the Street Art scene as well as traditional community murals. “The favela was full of pretty much every style of letters and images,” says Ms. Cooper.

Painting on selected individual walls begins in earnest on Sunday so on Saturday artists paint on a long collaborative wall at the base of Vila Operária, in Duque de Caxias, a real meeting of styles. “In addition there were spray workshops for the kids, a graffiti clown who juggled spray cans, a brass band, b-boys and b-girls breaking with live DJs, and numerous bars and food stands,” says Martha.

@odairdon83. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

A volunteer run organization, Meeting of Favela relies on people who love the community, the culture, and the artists to keep this many constituencies happy and involved. While much of Urban Art’s early roots are associated with rebellious acts of mark-making conceived of and delivered antagonistically with negative or cynical intentions, at the opposite pole is a true community festival like this that successfully celebrates the creative spirit in myriad ways.

Not to mention how organized they have to be. “An experienced band of volunteers, many who have participated for years, is on hand to facilitate the artists and handle any problems on the spot,” Ms. Cooper reports.

Jocivaldo Silva AKA Bigod from the Northern State of Bahia, Brazil. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Naturally it feels like it is impossible to document completely. “There were so many fresh walls tucked away up and down the narrow streets and around every corner it was impossible for me to find and photograph them all,” says Cooper. But somehow, looking over the photos she collected and remembering the atmosphere, it was okay if she missed a couple of opportunities.

“The favela was intensively alive with residents and visitors mingling freely and happily,” she says.

AMO Crew from Brazil. Carla Felizardo – NEGRA, Lu Brasil, Mariana Maia – Ato and Taina Xavier- Baker painted the portraits of these girls on the wall of their home. Their names are, Ana Luiza, Laryssa and Marcelly. The girls’ grandmother had wished for portraits of her granddaughters painted during last year’s event but sadly she passed away. This year the girls’ mother, Ms. Gomes shown here holding the sketch for the mural arranged to fulfill the grandmother’s dream with the help of the AMO Crew. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Brazilian artists Othejo, Lirow and Jason. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

An unidentified artist paints the wheels of a wheel chair. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Chilean artist Edie. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Mav Group from Valparaiso, Chile; Jonas Salio De La Ballena, Isaac Codomano, Cha AH and Juan Pablo Lopez Sepulveda paint the portrait of Favela Operaria resident Suellen Ferreira Santos. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Fabio Tirado from Curitiba, south of Brazil. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Unidentified Artist. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Carão from Rio de Janeiro. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

A hidden portrait by Carlos Bobi at Ipanema Beach. Mr. Bobi is a founder member MOF (Meeting of Favela). Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Unidentified Artist. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Sergio with his dog Thor. In the background a mural painted by Talu for last year’s MOF. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Unidentified artist. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Stilo Sucio Crew from Chile. Sometimes people scratch out the eyes on murals. One story that people tell is that the eye-scratchers are addicted to drugs.  Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Unidentified artist. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Young boys and their dog. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

 

Chilean artists Jotael and Luciana Munoz enjoying Ipanema Beach the day after MOF. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Soccer in Vidigal Favela with a mural by Andre Kajaman (one of the MOF founders) and Tarm1. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Painted houses by Dutch artists Haas and Hahn in Santa Marta Favela. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Unidentified Artist. Vidigal Favela. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

From let to right: Vinicius Spam – MOF Team, Nextwo Viniius – MOF Team, Clarissa Piveta – Producer and photographer, Rafael Cruz – MOF Team, Andre Kajaman MOF Co-cofounder (Carlos Bobi is the other co-founder and is not in the picture) In the background holding a mic is Bruno Napo – MOF Team. Meeting Of Favela 2016. Favela Operaria. Duque de Caxias. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (photo © Martha Cooper)

 

We wish to thank Martha Cooper for her generous time dedicated to this article and for sharing her photography work with BSA readers. Follow Ms. Cooper on IG at @marthacoopergram

Thank you to Clarissa Pivetta


This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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