Brazil, do you hear the people sing?
This is Marc Quinn’s most famous piece of work, Self, made using 4.5 litres of his own blood, which was slowly extracted from his body over a period of five months and frozen in a cast of his face. Quinn has been making these roughly every five years since 1991, and each one must be maintained carefully in fridges. The fragility of the media means exhibiting is difficult - the head has to be placed into a glass case which is chilled from underneath. It reminds the audience of the fragility of existence and the precise conditions necessary for the flourishing of life.
It all started with the Movimento Passe Livre (“Free Fare Movement”), with protesting against the increase of R$0,20 for tickets of public transportation. Different cities adhered to the idea, including São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre, and millions of people gathered in the streets to scream against the taxes.
It all started with R$0,20, but it was never just about that. It was about our high taxes and low quality public services, it was about comparing the minimum wage to the R$3,20 (or small variations, depending on the city) of the bus, it was about watching in silence this price getting bigger and bigger each year. It was about seeing vavrious problems from a distance, from schools and work, from our living rooms and from casual conversations, talking and joking about the corruption or failures in the system, rightfully angry, but doing nothing.
It did started with the Free Fare Movement, with knowing that we need to pay at least R$130 (of a R$678 minimum wage for a large number of people, or more, but also forced to afford high prices for everything else) to work weekdays in a month.
It was - and still is, because it didn’t stopped, not in São Paulo, not in other cities - a fair complaint. It was a fair complaint, and the protesters were right in being angry. They were shouting for “No violence”, and were answered by rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, concussion grenades (here called “moral effect bombs”), spankings and arrests.
The right-wing media is calling the protesters vandals and rioters (although some people broke things, it was a very small group, largely criticized by the rest), the conservative middle and upper classes are saying it’s an exaggeration. I say it’s in time. Since the dictatorship and Fernando Collor’s impeachment, Brazil’s middle class (more than 50% of the country) was caught in a lethargic state, but 2013 is trying to change that, and now we finally have a chance to rise, and fight against violence, inequality, and taxes most of the population cannot afford to pay.
Here’s my Junior Thesis! Our theme was “Kings and Queens,” and although the individual we chose did not need to be an actual monarch, we were not permitted to choose anyone fictional. The paramaters of the project dictated that it be 1) biographical and 2) span from early life to death. I chose John Lennon as my subject (King of Rock, I suppose). PRINTS HERE!
Dammit Amanda, you talented fuck.