Regular readers will know that I have a soft-spot for street art. I know it’s not to everyone’s liking and some people even have quite strong objections to what they see as ugly vandalism, but I like it. Having said that, I definitely have more trouble with the pixação so common in São Paulo – while street art (in my eyes at least) makes places less ugly and more interesting, pixação seems to do the opposite.
Today I wanted to illustrate the positive effects of street art in Rio. Praça Quinze de Novembro is a large open square in Rio’s Centro (downtown) neighbourhood. Running straight through the middle of Praça Quinze is the Elevado da Perimetral, an overpass or flyover. Take a look at the scene back in February 2012, taken from Google Maps Street View:
This ugly monster was built in the 1950s with the aim of reducing the intense traffic coming into Centro. It runs through several neighbourhoods and has been the subject of debate for around 20 years, with various people wanting to have it demolished and replaced. When you travel the streets below this raised road you can really feel how strongly it imposes itself on the neighbourhoods it passes through. As part of the regeneration project on the docks area (known as Porto Maravilha) demolition work is now under way.
This year the excellent blocos Boitatá and Boi Tolo brought the Eat Rio carnival crew to Praça Quinze and we got to see the Perimetral up close. However, those dark walls had been transformed:
Can anyone really prefer the grim ‘before’ version to the vibrant ‘after’?