Long before the weather woke up to summer, thirty artists from Rio have been blowing a warm breeze into the halls of Battersea Arts Centre and venues around London. Inspired by the Brazilian artists who mounted a cultural invasion of their own of the World Cup in Mexico 1986, these ‘occupiers’ are in London for 30 days of creative exploration around the city.
Ramon Mello’s installation Turn the disco over managed to be at once haunting and playful. In a room full of stylish vintage record covers, two films played to the soundtrack of two scratchy record players. Phrases were scribbled on the walls (“I’ve decided to organise a disorganised bookshelf”) and To Do lists adorned blackboards with items ranging from practical ideas to abstract reminders; “To accept the chaos” / “Ear” / “Cat” / “Time chair”. It was a limbo land, an environment stuck between memories and the present, full of ghostly narrators telling stories of far flung friends.
Costume and design artists Eric Fuly and Roson Rosa’s The Queen and the Occupier showed that it’s not just actors who can draw the eye. This was a bonkers live art piece that made every single person in the BAC crèche (which it took over with marvellous aplomb) smile like a mad thing. Part marionette fashion show, part fairy tale, the costumes made from newspaper and cardboard were quite frankly extraordinary. Jean Paul Gaultier would have been proud of the Queen in question, whilst the Occupier proved to be the toy robot of every little boy’s imaginings. They revolved around each other, swapped places and then left ceremonially.
Meanwhile Pedro Miranda was singing to a packed out crowd. Karaoke with a difference A Little Musical Stroll Through Rio saw him backed by musicians playing in the Brazilian city, well, film recordings of them. With melodies infused with samba it was incredibly warming as you saw musicians connecting over thousands of miles via technology.
In the Committee Room Paulo Camacho’s cinemanipulavel#1: confetti, a series of carnivalesque films and projected images was playing. They freaked me out a little but were utterly compelling. The stars of Camacho’s films are incredibly beautiful creatures who stand under our gaze fearlessly, courting our inevitable voyeurism. They dance for us but are also slightly frightening. On a loop their poses compelled me to stay in one spot, transfixed for half an hour and even now I’m worried I somehow lost a bit of myself in this static show down.
During the 30 days of take over Mello has produced work with new writing specialists HighTide on Endless Poem. This is a truly international collaboration with Vickie Donoghue and Kenny Emson alongside direction by Rob Drummer and design by João Sánchez and will form part of the finale in early August. Fuly and Rosa meanwhile are collaborating with graphic artist Breno Pineschi at the V&A, occupying the Sackler Centre Residency Studios until 17th August. Here they are making work, holding open studios and facilitating the viewing and participation of work in progress sessions.
Miranda has been delighting Londoners with his new band a Brazilian Kitchen. A delicious super band uniting famous Rio artists and melding an army of Brazilian musical tribes they will be playing a major part in the final event of the festival. On 30th July you can attend a programme of short films by Camacho followed by a Q&A with this exciting filmmaker. This is as part of Occupation Onscreen: The New New Cinema from Rio which has been showing at both Somerset House and V22. Although their time here is almost done, all the work created over this month will form a part of the Rio Occupation Finale Festival, at V22 on 1st-3rd August. There’s still a chance for these artists to occupy your time.