Sao Paulo, City of no Advertising, Graffiti, and Los Angeles

by B.J. Delas Armas on 6/08/2008 11:59:00 PM 0 comments Print this post

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I've never been to Sao Paulo, but I'd like to go there someday. The reason?

No outdoor advertisements!

Think about that for a second: No images of the "model, ideal" body. No implicated racism, sexism, prejudices. No mindfucking, mindnumbing subliminals. All in the name of getting a few people rich.

Adbusters Article

“The Clean City Law came from a necessity to combat pollution … pollution of water, sound, air, and the visual. We decided that we should start combating pollution with the most conspicuous sector – visual pollution.”

"You couldn’t even realize the architecture of the old buildings, because all the buildings, all the houses were just covered with billboards and logos and propaganda. And there was no criteria.

I wonder how a town with no advertisements functions.

Apparently, it’s amazing...so far. They uncovered a lot of problems the city had that were never realized.

For example, from the article.

"there are some favelas, which are the shantytowns. I wrote a big story in my newspaper today that in a lot of parts of the city we never realized there was a big shantytown."

Flickr Photo Set of the new City of Sao Paulo

As per relevance to where I live, Los Angeles, I wonder what the effect of this outdoor ban has been on Sao Paulo's graffiti scene. Has graffiti activity slowed down or picked up?


Sao Paolo was apparently a graffiti center before this ban and still remains one. Check this set!

When you break it down, all graffiti is, is mostly advertising too, except much less controlled and funded. It's guerrilla message sending, which is all advertising is.

So the question would be: are people on an individual level less prone to make and send these guerrilla messages with an outdoor ban enacted?

Short answer looks like a maybe not. On internet inspection, perhaps not...but again, I'm writing about an interesting idea from a city I've never visited.

I ran across the video below on reverse graffiti in Sao Paolo.



This 2/14 Boston Globe spread on Sao Paolo Graffiti acts as if graffiti is still alive and well, least the good ones.

Boston Globe on Sao Paolo's Graffiti

The caption for the photo displayed here reads:

"Pixadores, as graffiti artists are called in São Paulo, find room for their art alongside city freeways, on the walls of abandoned warehouses, and even atop high-rise apartment buildings. While it's still common for police to prosecute pixadores for illegal graffiti writing, many artists now receive government commissions to display their work in public spaces."

Now the caption above is interesting for a few reasons relevant to LA.

First, they've found room for art along city freeways.

LA did too, but look at what happened to this mural over the course of 23 years.







Read about its fate here and here. The comments are very interesting.

What's interesting here is that apparently the Los Angeles kids mural could have been saved.

"The story that was not told, and the real travesty here, however, was that just a few years ago, the City of L.A. raised a huge amount of money to restore these murals, and paid the artists to do just that, and to APPLY AN ANTI GRAFFITI WAX COATING! As I understand it, all Caltrans had to do was melt off that wax to remove the graffiti, then recoat it for future protection! Not much more time, money or effort would have been required." - Brother of LA Kids Mural Artist, Glenna Boltuch

The quote above brings me to my second point. Sao Paolo seems to embrace its graffiti and murals. LA doesn't do that unless its that one Venice graffiti place or the Arts District.



I wonder...if we didn't look at graffiti as a problem, and perhaps actually weaved the graffiti into the fabric of the city ala Jane Jacobs' school of urbanism, perhaps there wouldn't be a graffiti problem. Perhaps if people other than the motherfucking LAPD, rich corporate and individual developers were heard, there wouldn't be so many unwieldy and random tags.

I guess the movie Crash is sort of useful in this sense...if people weren't so disconnected and impersonal, maybe there wouldn't be as much a need in the first place for a space to graffiti, a space to be seen and heard, a space where you can just 'crash' into so many people at once without actually doing it. Just maybe we'd have the makings of a community.

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