Friday, June 11, 2010

Painting the Favela Red (and yellow and orange and blue)

Dutch designers Jeroe Koolhas and Dre Urhahn recently created a community based art project in Vila Cruzeiro, Brazil. They painted all the homes on a hillside in a range of bright colors (photos via Kitsune Noir). It's amazing how the aesthetics of a place can totally change its mood. These colors are bright and lively, bringing something extra special to this hillside hood. What's more, the process of artistic creation can serve to bring together the whole community.

There's always this talk about the terrible poverty of favelas and the squalor in which people are forced to live. Certainly those are important topics. God knows proper sanitation, clean water, access to healthy and affordable food, quality healthcare - and the list goes on - is important for everyone, everywhere. But favela life isn't all pain and sorrow, despite the (undoubtedly many) hardships. Culturally, Brazilian favelas have been an incredible source of artistic outpouring, especially in music.

In some of the world's biggest slums in India, there's a growing population of white collar workers - folk who can afford to move out, but are so deeply connected and proud of their community, despite the ills of poverty, that they stay.

Sure offers a stark contrast to the impersonality of the global elite's towering condos and gated McMansions. Now if only we could combine that community spirit AND decent living conditions the world over.