Art, Territory, Market, and Politics in Contemporary São Paulo: The Minhocão Case Study

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Miqueli MICHETTI, Fundação Getúlio Vargas - Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo - FGV, Brazil
The central area of São Paulo city, in Brazil, is currently undergoing a process of "regeneration” or “revitalization” in which culture and art have a crucial and ambivalent role. After decades of decay, the region is now receiving public and private investments, especially after the release, in 2014, of a new urban development plan. The study focus on a key area of this process, a major elevated motorway known as Minhocão (big worm), which future has been subject of disputes among several agents. There are at least three different organized groups of citizens disputing the destiny of the area. One of them wants the motorway to become a park, much alike the Highline Park in New York City. The other two wish the demolition of the structure. The groups have distinct amount of economic, cultural and political capital and also different political perspectives on the quarrel, in which the government and private real state companies are also influential. This area is now a thriving cultural scene, with graffiti, skateboarding, music, gastronomy and other expressions of urban culture. Many artists are currently living and working/creating there. Their presence increases the symbolic value of the region, but they are at the same time adversely affected by the conversion of the symbolic valorization they bring into the economic valorization that expels them. The research, based on field research, interviews, media and data analysis about the region tracks the disputes regarding the future of the territory and how art and culture have an ambivalent role in the symbolic and economic valorization of the city. The paper presents how struggles about the uses of the city nurture the creation of subversive forms of artistic expression, especially – but not exclusively – in graffiti. Territory, politics, market and art are complexly intertwined in the metropolis