Cultural tips

brasilobserver - Nov 10 2014
Metá Metá (Photo: Divulgation)



  • Nowhere People, Paulo Scott


Porto Alegre, southern Brazil, 1989. After enjoying the euphoria and the promises of political democratisation in Brazil, Paulo feels disillusioned with the political militancy of the Workers Party. Disenchanted with life, he is unable to maintain stable relationships, and his job at a law firm overwhelms him. Until a chance encounter with Maína, an indigenous teenager standing by the roadside who immediately catches his attention, clutching newspapers and magazines tightly to her chest, under a heavy rain. When Paulo decides to give her a lift, his life takes an unexpected journey and alternatives open up before him.

This is the starting point of Nowhere People, a novel by the Brazilian writer Paulo Scott that has just been released in the UK (published by And Other Stories and translated by Daniel Hahn). First published in Brazil in 2011, the book won the prestigious Machado de Assis Prize the following year.

From the encounter between Paulo and Maína, the story follows the emancipation of Brazil after the dictatorship, addresses the unresolved problem of indigenous heritage, shows the reality of life for an illegal immigrant in London and reveals that the possibility of a promising future may not be enough to control our own lives.

Born in Porto Alegre in 1966, Paulo Scott has published four books, two novels and two of poetry. Last month, he was in the UK for the launch of Nowhere People and to participate in the second edition of FlipSide, British version of the Brazil’s Paraty International Literary Festival (FLIP). Speaking at the event, Scott said this book “is the first in Brazilian literature to give voice to the indigenous”.


  • The Mystical Rose: Selected Poems, Adelia Prado


Adelia Prado is one of the most renowned poets of Brazil. Honoured with The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award in 2014, this November she makes her first trip across the UK, to launch her first book in Britain, The Mystical Rose: Selected Poems. With translations by Ellen Doré Watson, the collection was published by Bloodaxe Books. In London, Prado will be reding from the book at Kings Place, on 10 November, alongside the American poet Thomas Lux, who is also releasing a collection of work.

Born in 1935 in Divinópolis, Minas Gerais, Adelia Prado was 40 years old when she began to write poetry seriously. Her work combines passion and intelligence, wit and instinct, with poems that address human concerns, especially those related to women. Among her main features as poet are the spirituality and the belief in the transcendent qualities of objects and everyday experiences.

“Discovery” by Brazil’s greatest modernist poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade, who described her poems as “phenomenal”, Adelia Prado published her first collection, Baggage in 1976. Since then, seven subsequent anthologies were published. But despite her almost immediately and continued success, she prefers to stay out of the limelight, travelling to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo only occasionally to participate in literary events and book launches.




  • Observations in Brazil, Sir Benjamin Stone

\\ Embassy of Brazil in London until 7 November


There are few days left to enjoy a rare collection of 50 photographs taken by Sir Benjamin Stone during an expedition to Brazil in the 19th century. Part of the Library of Birmingham’s Archive, this collection is being exhibited for the first time, thanks to a partnership between the Embassy of Brazil in London and Lucid-ly.

Curated by Rodrigo Orrantia and Pete James from the Stone archive at the Library of Birmingham, the photographs were taken during a Royal Astronomical Society expedition set out to observe a full solar eclipse in the Brazilian Amazon in 1893. Stone also documented his journey by sea, photographing people and places he discovered.

The exhibition reveals some of the Brazilians who were at that time striving to forge an independent nation. A keen observer of individuals and customs in England, Stone captured images that portray different sections of Brazil’s already diverse society towards the end of the 19th century: recently freed African slaves, indigenous tribes in the Amazon, and European settlers of greatly differing economic circumstances who had ventured across the Atlantic to start a new life. In many of these images his subjects’ quizzical gaze suggest that Stone was as much the observed as the observer.

Stone’s photographs are an invitation to travel back in time and witness a nation on the cusp of modernisation where there was a stark contrast between the untouched wilderness of the Amazon and the industrialisation taking place in cities such as Manaus, the capital of the rubber trade. Many of those contrasts persist and help us form a more faithful interpretation of the contemporary conjuncture.


  • Plot, José Damasceno

\\ Holborn Library until 23 November


Starting from the peripheries of vision for regular users of Holborn Livray, Plot draws visitors deeper into the building on a disorienting journey. Works are found in different parts of the working public space, from co-habiting areas used for reading and research, to a series of linked encounters towards a former auditorium on the top floor. This journey is not unlike those we take in the reading of classic literature, to imagined lands and places of allegory and satire, shifting our perspective, transforming the familiar into something alien.

Inspired by the artist’s research into London’s architecture and social history, along with seemingly disparate influences that range from Jonathan Swift to Hammer Horror, Holborn Library becomes the departure point for an excursion into a realm where two dimensions become three and one time is transposed onto another.

José Damasceno was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1968, where he continues to live and work. The critic Gerardo Mosquera has described Damasceno’s work as offering “a succession of adventures and surprises.” His versatile approach encompasses sculpture, drawing and collage, creating a rich interaction between these various methods which informs the scope of his installations.

Damasceno represented Brazil at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and he was also invited to create installations for various public spaces in Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofía, presented as the exhibition Coordenadas y Apariciones (2008). Plot is the artist’s first major solo show in the UK, following his 2010 exhibition ‘Integrated Circuit’, which took place at the Thomas Dane Gallery.




  • Stefano Bollani & Hamilton de Holanda | Barbican (20/11)


The duo formed by the Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and Brazilian Hamilton de Holanda – considered the Jimi Hendrix of the bandolin – radiate irresistible enthusiasm with a repertoire of samba and tango songs and the pair will be performing at the Barbican, on 20 November.

Considered a virtuoso in Brazilian music and with international recognition, Hamilton de Holanda has his origins in the choro music, but since the release of his first album, Destroçando a Macaxeira, in 1977, he has constantly experimented with new ways of playing to jazz, samba, rock, pop, lundu and choro. His main innovation was to add two extra strings to the bandolin, which reinvented the instrument and earn him the nickname of Jimi Hendrix of bandolin in the US press.

In 2012, de Holanda recorded the live album O Que Será with pianist Stefano Bollani. For the critic Thom Jurek, the album brings an intense dialogue between two musicians who understand music as an adventure, “they completely deliver and bring a sound full of warmth and intimacy.” The album certainly represented a high point in the careers of two musicians who will have the opportunity to show London their partnership in global music.


  • Metá Metá | Cafe OTO (1/12)


Over a squalling mass of improvised guitar and sax, a twisted, almost broken female vocal cries out to Exu, the gatekeeper of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé. This is the ‘Afro-punk’ sound of Metá Metá – vocalist Juçara Marçal, saxophonist Thiago França and guitarist Kiko Dinucci – a trio of São Paulo’s most sought after musicians, struggling to survive the sonic schizophrenia of their home city.

Metá Metá’s second album, and first with the Mais Um Discos label, MetaL MetaL launches itself from the ancient chants of the orixás into a dirty brew of psychedelic samba, distorted jazz and Afro-punk. The band integrants are all followers of candomblé yet they do not use the orixás to preach certain beliefs but to provide a framework within which to tell their stories.

On MetaL MetaL they mix these spiritual and rhythmic foundations with influences ranging from Afrobeat to Afrosambas, punk rock to be-bop to create chaotic, life-affirming music that explodes with the rage of The Stooges and Sonic Youth, the spirituality of John Coltrane and Sun Ra and the wild, avant-garde instrumentation of contemporary experimental-psychedelic outfits such as Melt Yourself Down and Goat.

As the band’s own description says, “the trio works with the diversity of Brazilian musical genres, using economic arrangements that highlight melodic elements and signs of African influence in the world music, exploring the silence and the counterpoint, running from conventional ideas, either the aesthetic features or alternative way to share their art”.




Céu @ Under the Bridge – 21 November

Tania Maria Trio @ Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club – 28 and 29 November

Lucas Santtana @ Southbank Centre – 10 December